When I left the US in 2003 to move to Paris, I never expected my sojourn abroad to last quite so many years. Life in America had become insufferable (at least from my privileged viewpoint), and this was even before any whiff of Trump poisoned the air. I was one of those people who actually acted on the threat of “if Bush gets elected I’m leaving the country.” Not that my country cared.
I had given myself a year to see whether I really liked living abroad, or if Paris was just somewhere I enjoyed visiting on an annual basis, as I had for the past 10 years. I figured I could always return home again if I didn’t like it. So I put my house on the market, and packing only two large suitcases, left for Paris.
Well, 14 years later I am still living abroad and it was the best decision I ever made. I have never once regretted leaving my home country, though things have over the years gotten decidedly difficult at times. There are, of course, no perfect places; and although I did eventually leave Paris, my time there was incredibly formative and I will always be grateful for what it taught me.
I wrote these journal pieces during my first year in Paris, as I did my best to adjust to life as an expat American. Most of the articles were originally written for Paris Metropole, a wonderful web site created by Ric Erickson that was an ideal resource for anyone who loved Paris, whether they were new to the city or just loved to read about it from the comfort of their armchair in New Jersey. The site sadly is no more, but for over 10 years it was one of the best places to indulge in Parisophilia.
I had originally planned to morph these pieces into a book, but then I realized there are already a slew of books out there about expat Americans in Paris. It would be just one more to add to the pile, and publishers these days seem more interested in “edgy” books about millennials with heroin addictions (not that there’s anything wrong with millennials).
So I will be republishing them here, with a few (hopefully interesting) additions, given the gift of hindsight. Maybe one of them will inspire others to make the leap.