“I have two loves – my country and Paris.” Josephine Baker
Believe it or not, there are a few things I miss about America already. Most of these things are California-specific, especially lately, but still: the US will always be home, for better or for worse.
Almost every weekend, I treat myself to a late breakfast at an American diner in an otherwise super French neighborhood. This diner has normal-sized coffee mugs, and they serve normal amounts of coffee (read: bottomless). No tiny espressos in sight. They also have orange juice. They have pancakes. They have bacon. They have ketchup for your breakfast potatoes. Old-fashioned silver toasters dot a few of the tables. The diner plays really cheesy classic rock music and the menu is in both English and French.
It’s the best. Breakfast is hard to come by in France — these are lunch people, not breakfast people — so it’s such a treat for me to be able to escape back to America for a quick, calorie-filled hour every Sunday morning. Who says you can’t have your pain au chocolat and eat your pancakes too?**
Aside from the diner, my other most important discovery: the library. There is an American Library of Paris, and I found it, and now I volunteer there a few times per month. The other volunteers are fellow Americans of all ages and backgrounds, everyone in Paris for their own simple yet complicated yet simple reasons, like I am. And during special events, there is wine — because we are, after all, in France. But everyone definitely partakes of more than just one or two glasses of said wine because we are, after all, still American.
And this means I still have a steady supply of books at my disposal, which at this point is almost a necessity for me. If I had to live somewhere without being able to stop by the library and wander through the quiet aisles after a long day at work — guys, not to be melodramatic, but I would definitely die. I’m fairly certain my body has become convinced that library book smell is actually a vitamin it requires to function.
Other small victories: I found popcorn and peanut butter. I brought NyQuil back with me after Christmas and assigned it a place of honor in my cabinet (it is my prized possession). I asked my mom and sister to bring me Girl Scout Cookies when they visit next week, and I’ve already had dreams about them. The cookies, not my family.
The point is: I think it’s fully possible to embrace the best parts of French life without entirely giving up some of my favorite things about American life. But I do wish France would embrace NyQuil.