Friends to Last a Lifetime

Okay, so I have kind of a gushy post for everyone right now.. I’ve said before how I have the workd’s best friends ever and that will never change. Last year, my best girlfriends sent me a care package in Paris from the States to cure my homesickness and tell me how much they missed and loved me. It was absolutely wonderful and uplifting and I couldn’t believe they did something like that for little ole’ me. They’re truly the best.

And now anyone who knows me, knows that I love my birthday. Like love love love it. I typically tend to celebrate my birthday for at least half of October with my various groups of loved ones in my life.. Yes, I’m that girl. It’s not like I shove it in people’s faces, I just love my birthday and love spending it with the people I care about. And this year was wonderful hanging out with my family all weekend – especially with being away from them for it last year while in Paris.

So, remember how I said I have the best of friends? Well, they’re from all around the world and my best friends from Paris just sent me birthday presents from abroad!

   

Seriously, I love these girls so much.. I’m so shocked that they thought to do something like this for me and I couldn’t be happier that God blessed my life with such beautiful souls.

When I say I have the world’s best friends, I truly mean it. 

   

Readjusting

A week and a half has gone by since I moved back home and I’m still overjoyed to be back!

Since coming home, I’ve spent all of my time just indulging in lost family and friend time. The first full weekend I had my baby cousins the whole time and I didn’t let them out of my sight. I’m so happy just to be able to hug those beautiful babes again. 

    
 And I finally got to go on a movie date with my little bro again! He, I and his girlfriend spent the whole day at the movies and it was so nice to be able to hang out with him again. 

 I’ve eaten enough El Mags’ Mexican food to last me another year.. 

 And I dyed my hair again (finally!!).. Oh, and cut it.. 

 I spent a weekend in the city with one of my best friends, Liz.. I got to finally see her apartment and I loved it! Seriously, I want it. 

 Aaaand the world’s best roommate ever – Amy – drove an hour and a half to see me in KC for lunch. She’s actually the best.. I cannot wait to live with her again in less than two weeks!

Last but not least, I’m soooo happy to have a real kitchen back in my life. Yesterday, I made mini rainbow chocolate chip pancakes and they were a total hit in the house.

So, I guess you could say I’m happy to be home.. I miss Paris, definitely, but for now I’m just overjoyed to be back.

How Paris Changed My Life

I remember the first time I thought about it.

I remember thinking, “This is crazy.. I’d never actually do it..”

And then I remember realizing that actually nothing made more sense to me than moving to Paris.

After just one year, my time in Paris has changed me. I’ve grown into a completely different being. I’m more me than I’ve ever been and I’ve never felt such an intense longing to stay put somewhere.

After this short year away, Paris has become my home. She’s a constant in my life that I’ve never known before. She’s the love I’ve never had before. She’s the embodiment of who I am as a person now.

After all of the tears, laughs, picnics, strolls, complaints and wine glasses I’ve gone through this year, I can confidently say that it’s been the best of my life. Paris has opened up my horizons and filled my heart. She made me realize more than ever before that travel is in my soul; it’s the essence of my spirit. I’ll never stop until I’ve seen all that’s humanly possible on this magnificent earth that God created for us. It’s within me now, as is Paris.

Though I adore this city and have seriously contemplated staying, there were times when I wanted nothing more than to go home and be in the presence of my family again. In this year I’ve never felt so completely whole and so entirely split in two before. And as I sit here in my room for the last night, I don’t have a choice than to return to the wondrous love of the family I have waiting back home.

Yes, Paris is a part of who I am today. I’ve changed in ways I’d never anticipated before and have grown into a different woman because of her.. But for now it’s time to say goodbye.

To say goodbye to the family of friends I’ve created for myself here. 

    
    
   
To say goodbye to the city that drastically changed my life.

To say goodbye to my home. 

 

Mom & Dad Take France, Pt. 1: Paris

I FINALLY SAW THEM! Eight long months after leaving my loving parents, we were reunited in Paris! I gotta say, that long wait at the front of the greeting line at the airport was quite tense for me.. Waiting, watching for those two faces while grasping a fresh baguette and doting a black beret and striped tee, I was ecstatic and all over the place to say the least. I’d waited so long for them to finally arrive and these last few moments at the airport were tough. I can’t even imagine what all the Frenchies around me were thinking.. “AMERICAN,” “Idiot,” “Who’s this weirdo making fun of us?” “I feel bad for whoever she’s waiting for,” but I didn’t care! I looked like a stereotypical American idiot but I was overjoyed that Mom and Dad were about to arrive in the first country outside of the U.S. that they’d ever been in and I wanted them to have the best greeting ever.    Therefore, the costume was very much needed. Trust me. So anyway, I’m waiting at the front of the greeting line for them and then all of a sudden the military guys come over and start yelling at everyone to get back and they shove all of us away from the gate. “BUT NO BECAUSE MY MOM AND DAD ARE HERE AND I DON’T CARE WHAT’S HAPPENING, JUST LET ME SEE THEM.” Then, I realize why we’re all being pushed back and it’s because a large black bag has been left in the middle of the area where I’d been standing and the police are treating it as a bomb. “Oh.. Okay.. Well. Maybe this was a good reason to shove me away from the big black possible bomb bag.. BUT STILL.” A few minutes later, everything is okay and turns out it’s just a regular suitcase someone dropped and we’re all allowed back at the greeting gate. I rush over to the front again grasping my now not-so-fresh baguette and wait. And wait. And wait. And then I receive a text from my Dad stating, “We’re taking turns going to the bathroom, be out in a few minutes.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME, GUYS!? I’ve been waiting 8 months for this and you’re wasting time in the bathroom!? COOOOME ON. So, I wait. More. Then.. THEY’RE HERE. I duck under the bar and run to them in front of everyone at the airport and grab them both in a baguette-filled hug. I’m sure all the Frenchies now understood that this was a big deal and they all got a good heartfelt reunion showing. Despite what everyone probably thinks, surprisingly no tears were shed. We were all too excited about the moment to cry. So, we shuffle ourselves over to the side and what do we do? We take a selfie. Yeah, first thing we do. Take a selfie.   After the selfie, I proceed to lead them through the airport to the metro where they take their first metro ride in Paris. It was full of horrible stares at me, English speaking tourists and plain just full. My parents got their first taste of Parisian life on that metro ride – so many stares at them. My Mom didn’t like it one bit. But they learned to get over it and ignore all the looks throughout their time here just like all the other Parisians do. During their time in Paris, we went to all of my favorite places, met most of my friends, ate crêpes, drank wine and champagne, met my host family, had picnics, explored all of Versailles and climbed to the summit of the Eiffel Tower.               

Speaking of climbing the Eiffel Tower.. I’d never been to the tippy top. I was saving this bucket list moment to experience with my parents. And boy, am I glad I did. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m terrified of both heights and elevators. Sooooo, going to the top of the Eiffel isn’t exactly an easy feat. BUT! I’m not the type of person to let fears control my life and I have no problem with conquering my fears. I never hesitate to try new things and escape fear. So, I climbed the Eiffel. It was terrifying sure, but I had my Mom there to comfort me when I started to have a (teeny tiiiiiiiny) panic attack at being 300 metres high. Even so, I walked to the edge and stared over the bars onto my beautiful home of Paris. I walked along the entire perimeter of the edge and am so proud of myself. I finally conquered the Eiffel! Thanks to my parents.        During their time here, my parents both embraced French life. If you know me, you know I love wine. Like, loooove love wine. I want to work in the wine industry. I love wine. Anyway, if you know my parents, you know they don’t drink. Like anything. Ever. I think I’ve seen my Mom take a sip of wine twice in my life and those two sips are the extent to which I’ve ever seen her consume alcohol. And I’ve never seen my Dad drink before in my life. So, when I saw them embracing French life in the form of wine and champagne, I was overjoyed. Mainly just with the fact that they were trying to see what it’s like to live like me and that they were open to so many more things.   They both enjoyed the wine and champagne that France had to offer them in addition to so many more things. They tried foie gras (without knowing what it was), they tried all kinds of French cheeses and they let me show them around Paris as a true Parisian. They were truly open to broadening their horizons and I couldn’t be more overjoyed with them. To sum it up, I had the most wonderful time with my Mom and Dad while they were here in Paris with me for two weeks. Saying goodbye yesterday at the airport was harder than I thought it’d be but it will only be two and a half more short months before I see their shining faces again.   I am one happy American girl in Paris.

Side note: I crossed two things off of my Paris Bucket List. 

 

My Christmas in Paris

If you’d asked me at any other point in my life, I would have told you that I’d never spend a Christmas away from my family. It’s the best time of the year and I cherish this time that I get with my family around the tree, cuddled up in blankets, hugging mugs of hot peppermint cocoa watching Elf. I would have told you I’d never put myself through this season without them. That’s if you’d asked me before I moved to Paris.

With time, I’m falling more and more head over heels for this spectacular city. When I first moved here almost four months ago, I didn’t see it becoming home. But now I can feel myself becoming attached to all of the magic that Paris has to offer. I loved it when I came but not in a “home” way. I loved it in a vacation way but today I can proudly say that I call Paris my home.

So, during this Christmas season away from home, I find myself incredibly blessed. Yes, I’m away from my family and that hurts but if I’m going to be away for Christmas, what better place to be than in Paris? Amiright? I know I am. I’ve come to accept that I won’t be with my family and I’m surprising okay with it. This will be the only Christmas I won’t be home for and I am taking full advantage of all that this city has to offer that differs from America. “Like what?” you might ask? Well..

First of all, the Christmas markets. I went to my first Christmas market on the Champs Elysées right after Thanksgiving. It was like a carnival for adults. Everywhere there were trinkets, food, ice skating and “vin chaud,” which is literally hot wine. It’s spiced and delicious and I don’t know why I haven’t been drinking it every Christmas! It’s seriously wonderful. In addition to all of this, there’s a HUGE ferris wheel at the end of the market.View-from-Arc-de-triomphe-of-Champs-Élysées-avenue_17243426_xl-600x400

Second, every single street around me is decorated specifically for that street itself. For example, my street has a string of lights across the beginning of each end that reads, “Joyeux Fetes Rue Vignon,” which means, “Happy Holidays Vignon Street,” and then Christmas lights decorate the rest of the street in between. It’s beautiful and I love looking at them every time I come home every day. Also I live right by Galeries Lafayette and it’s all lit up as well with dancing lights that put on a show all day.

Third, I still get to spend a good amount of time with my family thanks to Skype. That’s right, we’ve been Skyping together quite often this past week to watch all of our Christmas movies and put up our tree and it’s made it so much easier for me to be away since I’m still able to see them and be a part of it as much as possible. Just last night we had a marathon with It’s a Wonderful Life, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Christmas Story.

Fourth, my girls here in Paris are like family to me and have made this time so much fun. Last weekend we had our Secret Santa gift exchange and it was a blast. Speaking of, I need to hurry this post up so that I can go meet them for quiz night at the bar..

Last, my best friend is flying to Paris to spend Christmas with me and she arrives in just a little over 12 hours!! I can’t wait and can hardly contain my excitement! So, I will have a taste of home with me!

Even though I’m not at home with my family, I refuse to be sad because if I’m going to be away for Christmas, I might as well be in Paris.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM PARIS YOU BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE!!

Thanksgiving In Paris

Well, my first (and hopefully only) Thanksgiving away from home was sad and a bit lonely but I realize that I have so much to be thankful for – no matter how far from home I am. So, here’s a list of things I am so incredibly thankful for right now:

1) My morning today that I spent with Emily wine tasting at the Salon du Vin wine expo here in Paris.

2) My wonderful kiddo who panicked this morning when I said, “Happy Thanksgiving! It’s a biiiiig holiday in America.” And he replied by saying, “YOU GO TO UNITED STATES!?” freaking out that I was leaving him.

3) My wonderful family who Skyped me in for dinner tonight while I sat in my apartment eating Chipotle. It ALMOST felt like I was at home.

4) The package that my parents sent me for Thanksgiving yesterday.

5) The fact that I’m living out one of my dreams right now by living in Paris.

6) Last but not least, my amazing friends I have here in Paris. When I mentioned last week that I wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving but didn’t know what I was gonna do, they all immediately volunteered to make food and join me and offered up their apartments for the occasion. They truly make me feel like I’m at home when I’m with them and I love them all more than I can express.

So, there you have it. Even though I didn’t get to spend Thanksgiving with my family this year, I still have so much in my life to be thankful for.

God is good.

Feeling Loved

I just need the world to know that I have the best friends in the entirety of the world.

Today, I received the most amazing package from them with all of my favorite things, stuff I’d been missing from home and some creative cards as well. They coordinated together to get me this awesome package while they were all moving across country and leaving home. That in itself is impressive. But what’s even more impressive is that they literally got me EVERYTHING that I told them I’d been missing from America. Sneaky little Aubs brought it up in our groupchat one day and got me going on what I was craving.. Little did I know that she went out and bought EVERY SINGLE ITEM THAT I LISTED THAT DAY and then paid an enormous fee to get it shipped internationally to me. I sat and bawled my eyes out while my two kiddos watched Madagascar. I’m serious.. their heartfelt notes and thoughtfulness in general just blew me away and made me unbelievably happy. I miss them so dang much and honestly can not wait to see their beautiful, sunshine-y faces once again.

LOVE YOU BABES.

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Catacombs!

IMG_5336So I just got back from hanging out with six million skulls.

I finally went to the catacombs in Paris today! The day before Halloween! Perfect timing!

So this was yet another thing to check off of one of my bucket lists. Anyone who knows me knows that I love scary things. Scary movies, scary books, scary places (I hang out in the cemeteries here in Paris just reading horror novels, yeah I’m creepy) and anything else weird/odd/creepy. So touring the ancient catacombs of Paris was absolutely amazing.

But honestly, I have to confess something. I’d never even heard of the catacombs until my baby brother (he’s 20, and like 6’1″ so he’s definitely not a baby at all – but he is to me) told me about them this past summer. He told me about the movie about to come out, “As Above So Below,” and that it was an actual thing in Paris and asked if I was going to go while I was here. Well, today I went. And I couldn’t help but think the whole time that I wish he was with me. It was just the kind of thing that we would do together. We always went to movies together when I was living in the US and we’d call them sibling dates. Okay, well I would call them that but he wouldn’t. Anyway, we’d go see comedies, kid’s animated films, scary movies.. things like that. And it never failed, when we would go see a “scary” movie, afterwards we’d both be disappointed because we don’t really scare too easily. I love that about that kid. He matches my creepy-weirdness to a T. From our love of scary movies, to our sci-fi passion, this kid is totally my partner in crime. We always used to play Star Wars outside together. BUT! I’m getting off track. That’s a story for a different time. Basically all I’m saying is that my little bro is the bee’s knees. And that the only thing that could have made my tour of the catacombs better today would have been if he were at my side.

And now without further ado, please enjoy some creepy photos.IMG_5260 IMG_5265 IMG_5270 IMG_5275 IMG_5281 IMG_5286 IMG_5288 IMG_5289 IMG_5290 IMG_5294 IMG_5295 IMG_5300 IMG_5306 IMG_5312 IMG_5317 IMG_5318 IMG_5326 IMG_5327 IMG_5328

Yeah, I would. And I did. And yes, I wore that shirt on purpose. Of course.

Memories to last a lifetime

I feel it’s time to follow that last sappy post up. With another sappy post. But in the opposite way. So, here goes.

I’ve been in Paris for seven weeks now. And I have to say that I’ve met some absolutely wonderful, beautiful, stunning and kind people. I have to start this post off with my first two friends in Paris and talk about how super duper cool they are.

Picture me, sitting in my apartment one night when I get a text from a random number addressing me by my first name and everything, asking me to lunch. I’d been in Paris for like two weeks at this point and hadn’t really met people yet so imagine my surprise and intrigue at this text. The person(s) sending said text were Aimi and Julia. These two ladies were best friends with the previous au pair to my family and had my number from her and decided to reach out to me and welcome me into the city.

It couldn’t have come at a better time.

So, I text back and tell Julia that I love bagels and she proceeds to find a DELICIOUS bagel place called, “Bagels and Brownies,” that I’m just obsessed with now. We went to lunch at the Luxembourg Garden and ate on the grass and this chick made me feel so welcome in a city I was feeling so lonely in. She and Aimi reached out to me (quite creepily in an awesome and weird way, I might add) and I can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done already – listening to me complain, directing me throughout the city, calming me down during stuck-in-an-elevator-panic-attacks. They’re great. And I found out later on that before sending me that first text, they had debated it for a while and eventually decided on being creepy and not caring to send some random girl a random text out of the blue. And thank goodness that they did.

Julia and Aimi introduced me to some of the most wonderful girls I’ve met in my life. Just tonight, some of us had a dinner party at Aimi’s with home cooked food (thanks Aimi and Gemma) and homemade desserts (even homemade crusts, thanks Julia). It was soooo good and the company was terrific. These girls are teaching me so much about the world and life and for instance about the fact that I’m apparently “incredibly American.” Whatever that means.. Just kidding, I know exactly what it means. These girls are from all over – Wales, England, Ireland, New Zealand, America. Just everywhere. I’m learning so much from them and I’m so grateful for this experience.

Also I love the way they talk.

I find myself speaking with a terrible, fake British accent after being around them for extended periods of time and they just deal with it. And for that I love them.

I’ve made so many memories already after this short time and can’t wait for the numerous more with them. This experience has already been life changing and though it gets tough at times, I wouldn’t change a thing about this choice I made and the year I’m spending in Paris. After all, I’m living out a dream.

Nobody said it’d be easy.

Well. I’m finally ready to admit it (although those close to me already hear this constantly). I miss home. Like reeeally bad. I knew it’d be a struggle to move an ocean away from everyone I love but I never imagined it’d be this hard. Don’t get me wrong, I love Paris and don’t wish to change a thing – I just need to get a few things off my chest.

I think I’m going through the first wave of homesickness that I knew would come. And I’ve been going through it for quite a bit now. I constantly find myself thinking of home, questioning my reasoning for being here and missing my family.. Like A LOT.

I miss everyone so much.

Let’s start small. And by that I literally mean “small.” Right before I boarded my flight to France, my cousin Kourtni had her first baby. A precious little girl. I’m watching her grow her first year through Facebook and social media and that crushes me. Because anyone who knows me knows that I ADORE the three babies in my life. Like I’d give my life for them I love them so much. So you can understand why it kills me to be so far away for this little one’s first year of life. Especially considering that I was sick when we visited her in the hospital and I didn’t get to hold her but once before I left. And then there are my two babies. Not literally mine, I didn’t birth them, but I’d claim them as my own. Abagail and Aliveia have been the highlights of my life since Abagail was born 6.5 years ago. I try to FaceTime them as often as possible but it’s just not the same as real cuddles and kisses. It does help though that my Momma told me Aliveia (2) has been asking about me: “Where’s Megan?” “Megan come?” “Call Megan.” So obviously they do and it makes my day to see those little faces on my iPhone screen.IMG_4910

I also miss my best friends whom I talk to (almost) daily. I miss them so dang much. I miss having someone to regularly go on El Mags dates with. I miss having someone to tell me it’s okay to eat that ten pound second round plate of HuHot that I just brought back to the table. I miss having someone to sneak into movies with. I miss margaritas every Thursday. I miss all the little things. And texting just doesn’t do all of their awesomeness justice. Even though most of them tend to blow my phone up daily – it’s just not even nearly enough. And it pains me to say this but I can feel some slipping away from me and becoming distant and that honestly breaks my heart. It’s so hard to lose a relationship when you’re so far away. It’s heartbreaking, honestly.

But most of all I miss my parents and baby brother. Man, I honestly never thought I’d miss fighting with someone so annoying so much. But I miss all the little spats with my kid bro. And I miss our frequent sibling movie dates. And I miss having someone to rescue me when I need help in the middle of the night. That kid may drive me crazy but I love him to the ends of the earth and can’t wait to punch him again. And my Daddy. Our song came on my iTunes yesterday and usually it’s too sad and deep (I know, I know) for me to listen to so I skip it so I can stay peppy and happy. IMG_4663But yesterday I listened to the whole thing and just cried. That man is my superhero and I miss him so much. He must miss me too because he FINALLY got with it and bought himself a smartphone so that he could actually communicate with me while I’m here. Now we text and Skype regularly and it still makes me chuckle to see his big smiling face excitedly say, “Hey Sweetie!” literally every time that he answers. Warms my heart. And anyone who knows me knows that my Momma and I are inseparable. Like really. She is my rock and what gets me through every tough situation. I miss her more than words can describe and what breaks my heart the most about this is that I broke her heart by leaving. I know everyone will roll their eyes and be like, “It’s just one year, chill.” But this one year of separation between my Mom and I is like an eternity to anyone else. I hate the fact that I don’t get to go on Walmart trips with her. I hate the fact that I can’t surprise her at the front door with a visit. I hate that I don’t get to interrupt her work day with a visit. Honestly it’s all of the little things.

I know my parents will be crazy upset after reading this post but I just had to  finally get it all off my chest. And now that I have, I feel loads better. And I do have to say that this experience has taught me that I can never live halfway across the world from everyone ever again. I don’t plan to live in Missouri again, but I do plan to live my life in the US.

Although I miss home tremendously, I love this dazzling life that I’m living in Paris. It’s beautiful and filled with awe and it’s truly an adventure I never thought I’d actually get to go on when I started dreaming about it in 6th grade. I’m cherishing every moment and living out a dream. I’ve made new lifelong friends, explored weird places and eaten such fattening food. OH! And drank lots of wine. It’s safe to say that I love my life. You just gotta let some things off your chest sometimes. And now that I have..IMG_4887

OH LOOK. The mom just brought me home a baguette. I’ve been hoping for one for two days this week now. And now that I finally have one, all is right with the world. And you bet your booty that I’m about to eat the entire thing. With butter. Go ahead, judge.