After my two-week summer vacation, unevenly split between Portugal and the South of France, a conference in Bavaria and a brief appearance in lab, I am just back for a 10 days stay in Paris, triggered by my best friend's decision back in January to ask his girlfriend to marry him despite my having made my opinion of both marriage and weddings very clear to him (I still cannot believe that those two have the cheek to do whatever pleases them with their own lives), and filled with much more debugging than I ever care to do (I was working this week).
Portugal already seems like it happened so long ago, most of the conference is better forgotten except for the few connections I've made and the growing mentoring relationship between my boss and me, and Paris was emotionally intense. I spent a great deal of time talking about academic research (mostly from a political point of view, and in one instance despite the consensus that one shouldn't talk shop nor politics at a wedding) and being jealous of the amazing view one of my assistant professor friends has over Paris from her office.
I caught up with as many people as possible, for what quite obviously felt like too little time with each one of them. Precious moments nevertheless. I had a great time showing a friend from California around. She's here for a few months, studying French and discovering Paris, and it is fascinating to match our mirroring expat experiences. Too bad I missed two other friends I made there and who left town a few hours before my train arrived, and my favorite mad hatter of a roommate who landed a whole day before I left and was so certain I'd be in Germanland she didn't bother letting me know before it was too late.
I even found the time to re-open some familial wounds, to try to help them heal better. Poking at scarring tissue is no fun, mentally or otherwise, but I have hopes that it's for the best in the long run. (What do you mean my medical metaphors aren't the finest literature you've read lately?) Let's just say that making plans to visit the Christmas market in Strasbourg, hearing how much people like my new haircut, and laughing to the point there are tears in my eyes was much more enjoyable that that.
"It's so great to see you like that," one of my friends said. "You look so happy and confident!"
I'm actually not so confident about the future, though, what with the German-French split I am experiencing (the Rhine is my new Atlantic Ocean). Unlike the US, Germany is a country where I can contemplate living (my best argument being that "the people are, like, normal?" I am still trying to get rid of "like" as a punctuation sign and failing, probably because I do need to find a filler word to replace it first). Soon I'll be trying to get an academic position, and that will mean deciding in which of the two countries to settle.
On the one hand I quite enjoy my life out here, in my small city with its laid-back lifestyle, and the fairly decent work prospectives Germanland has to offer for someone like me. On the other, my social life is still rather poor here, and Paris fills me with joy, with its dear friends, beautiful sights, language I master and utter lack of academic positions. Looking very far ahead, past a number of insignificant details such as overcoming a few trust issues and finding someone I'd consider falling in love with and reciprocally, I'd like to have a family at some point, which I'm foreseeing as being even more difficult in a country where working mothers are still mostly considered a disgrace.
In any case I still have a year and a half more of funding, and my plan for now is to apply in both countries. I'd be smart anyway not to sell the skin before catching the bear, and to focus most of my energy on the most important thing I can do to build up my resume: making my current projects work. This is not a given when the ones I'm the most busy with feel like they're stalling, but this should I hope solve itself once I'm back to my regular working schedule.
So, plan for now: deep breathe, and focus on what's taking place now rather than worrying about what might or might not happen years down the line.