the oyster is mine
While waiting in line I took in all the pastries: the heavy almond croissants doused in icing sugar, the intricately layered mille feuilles, the thick pains au chocolat and the apple tarts with woven dough, revealing their soft apple insides.
I smiled at the man behind the counter and he wrapped up my baguette without me saying a word. We wished each other a good day as usual, and I left smiling, practically strutting in well-being.
I’ve been struck with happiness, health and self-assurance this week. Suddenly French formalities make sense and I can walk with ease in this culture.
Through many conversations with other nannies, I’ve come to understand my role as an au pair. I've learnt that every problem is not my fault, that all children are difficult, that no situation is perfect and that we’re all exhausted by the end of the day.
I’ve stopped seeing myself as Cinderella and have realized we’re all cleaning up after somebody else. I can see that the kids work hard, as do the parents, and I am not as deprived as I once believed myself to be.
This week a homeless man fell asleep in our building, just outside the family’s apartment. I saw him lying on the hallway floor in the morning, and still half asleep myself, smiled and said “Bonjour,” while thinking nothing of it. He smiled back then returned to his sleep.
Later I was told he wouldn’t leave, and I had to take the kids to Mcdonalds while the police got him out of the building.
It was a strange event, which switched up our routine, and made things a little more interesting. The kids faces lit up when I yelled: “Guess where we are going? The wonderful…the miraculous…the fantastic…Mcdonalds!” I honestly hate the place, and they smell like urine here, but the kids love it.
If the kids love it, I might as well too. I love it when they’re happy. When they’re happy we laugh, we play, we joke around, and my days go by with ease. These days I find myself looking at them with adoring eyes when they make scenes in public, yell swear words, and get dirty looks from more refined Parisians.
I’m even learning to manage the tears and screams, which no longer play with my stress levels so much.
The air is changing. I can feel it. And something inside of me is too.
By writing and focusing on small goals, by considering my own happiness, my whole world is opening up.
My eyes are open, my heart is open, my mind is open.
I feel like this giant oyster of life is opening up to me, telling me there’s still a pearl left inside.
I'm afraid of oysters, but I’m pretty in pearls, and I’ve realized that sometimes you have to push your boundaries to get what you want.