August 15, 2010 was the day I left the US with big dreams, 130 pounds of luggage, and a one-way ticket to Charles de Gaulle. The days leading up to the anniversary are always full of reflection and nostalgia for me. I spend a lot of time looking back at what I’ve accomplished — or failed to accomplish — but I also look ahead to what the new year might bring my way. It’s a bit like New Year’s in mid-summer.
Two years ago, on my first anniversary as an expat in France, I recounted the beautiful story of what led me to this country in the first place (“The Patience of a Butterfly“). Last year, as my second anniversary rolled around, I waxed rather philosophical about it all, writing about change as the very essence of life (“Every Beginning is Only a Sequel“). This year, I’m doing something quite a bit different. You see, I have a Facebook tradition every August 15: I start a new photo album into which I will post scores of photos of my life during the upcoming year. A few days ago, in preparation for “Ma vie à Paris: la quatrième année,” I was scrolling through last year’s album, and I was reminded of what a monumental year it’s been: chock full of the usual stresses of expat life, of course, but also charged with exciting developments that promise good things to come. This August 15, then, I’ve decided to share with you a little photographic montage of the last 525,600 minutes of my life as an expat — the mundane and the exciting, the frustrating and the promising, even the delicious and the inebriating … and the sentimental, of course. So … how do you measure a year in the life?
Note: There are ten photo galleries in this article. You can see all the photos without opening individual galleries, but opening them will allow you to view the photos in a larger format. To open a gallery, simply click on one of the photos. You will then be able then scroll through all the photos in that gallery. You will then need to close it to move on the rest of the article and view other galleries. You can close a gallery by clicking on the “x” in the upper left corner of the gallery screen.
I was still a student.
Thankfully, the French government was still onboard with renewing my student visa while I “perfected” my French language skills:
And I was still banging my head against the wall …
thanks to the French immigration system. Having to show up at the prefecture four times in seven months was no picnic, but I finally ended up with a residency permit good for four months longer than expected. That pushed my next visit to the prefecture a little farther down the calendar. As they say, “every dark cloud …”
Peter DuBose, my fifth-great-grandfather, was a captain in the South Carolina militia under the command of the “Swamp Fox” General Francis Marion. He was also the grandson of French immigrants to Carolina, Isaac Dubosc and Susanne Dubosc, née Couillandeau.
My great uncle, PFC Marion Stuckey (born Buddy Marion Skinner). He attended The Citadel before being inducted into the Army on June 10, 1943. He served in G Company, 71st Infantry Regiment, 44th Infantry Division. He was killed in action on January 4, 1945 in eastern France (probably in Bas-Rhin based on his regiment’s position at the time). He was 20 years old. According to family history, he studied French at The Citadel and served as an interpreter. He was killed, we believe, by friendly fire when the convoy he was traveling in was mistakenly targeted in an American air attack.
And with old friends from back home …
one of whom I hadn’t seen in decades:
I met Jill in grad school at UVA back in 1995. We saw each again for the first time since 1996 in September 2011 when she and her husband came to Paris. This is from last September’s annual visit.
Piper and I first met back in 1996 at my first job in DC. When we met up here in Paris last October, it had been almost four years since we last saw each other.
Keith and I met first met back in 2008. When came to Paris last November, it had been more than four years since we last saw each other … even though he had been my virtual French professor when I first Michel and needed pointers on how to say sweet things in French.
Amy and I first met in high school back in 1989. We went to the same college, but after that we lost touch for a while. Before we met up in Paris in April, the last time we had seen each other was probably in 1994!
Jean and I met at Capital Pride back in 2009. Then she moved away to Chicago, and I moved to Paris. When we saw each other in June, it had been about four years since we last saw each other. She’s a fellow blogger, too. Check her out at That Makes Me Nervous!
I first met Strother at church back in 2006 or 2007. She ended up leaving for a foreign service assignment soon thereafter. We saw each other next in July as she passed through Paris on her way to a new assignment in Brazzaville.
John and I met at church, too, back in 2008 or so. Before John came through Paris earlier this month, the last time we had seen each other was probably in 2010.
There were several others who didn’t make it into any photos. Maybe next year?
Of course, I made new friends this year, too:
So … how do you measure a year in the life? In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights
In cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife. And in love … seasons of love.