|The island of Moloka'i, where we visited in March|
We moved to Honolulu right before Maëlys turned one. She hadn't started walking yet—she was still doing her funny one-legged crawl. She didn't understand most of the words we said to her. I was feeling guilty for not throwing her a first birthday party, but we had no furniture in our apartment and few friends to celebrate with. She didn't mind—she enjoyed opening presents from her relatives, and then lost interest and moved on to something else. She was changing rapidly, but still firmly in the baby category.
|Maëlys at 20 months|
In our eight months here, France has also quickly faded into the background. Now, a dream-like fuzziness blurs the edges of my memories of Paris. My French accent sounds atrocious. I have not kept up my French skills as I had wanted to, unfortunately, and it's surprising how quickly my vocabulary has dwindled, only to be replaced by long Hawaiian words that I frequently mix up: Kapahulu, Kaka'ako, Kalawao, Kapiolani. I still keep in touch with a few friends from France, and we send occasional Maëlys photos to our sweet former landlady. But for the most part, our lives have become firmly entrenched in Hawaii and France is now just an anecdote that makes me sound cooler than I really am.
Still, every time I watch a movie set in Paris, my heart skips at the familiarity of the simple things: the blue and green street signs on the corners of buildings, the bright neon vests of the sanitation workers, the sound of the doors-closing alert on the métro. It feels as if I'm still there and need only open a window for the smell of cigarette smoke to waft upwards, for the blaring of car horns and sirens to punctuate the usual low rumble of noise. I miss it. Something which was so frightening and unfamiliar to me for so many months now feels like home. Never mind that in Hawaii I can go to the beach any time I want. Never mind that I can see tons of constellations from my balcony, not just an occasional star or satellite. Never mind that I can breathe clean air and feel safe in my neighborhood. I miss the character of Paris. I miss the feeling of power that comes from crossing a busy street with a throng of other pedestrians. I miss addressing people as monsieur or madame and knowing that I'll hear “Merci, au revoir” when I leave a store.
I'm certain that when I look back on my life, our time in Paris will be two of the best years I ever had. Perhaps two of the hardest as well, but certainly two of the best. That's not to diminish the wonderful new lives we're building for ourselves in Hawaii, of course. I'm constantly in awe of our surroundings--Rory and I get to live in a gorgeous place that most people only dream of visiting, and we both get the chance to work and do what we love while raising an incredible daughter together. Hawaii is full of aloha.
But there's something special about Paris. A certain je ne sais quoi...