I saw a nice surprise yesterday. Years ago I used to read a particular blog. In those days, I had no idea about platforms, I just signed up for emails when she posted. Her tale was interesting – she was an English woman living in Paris. I guess from her perspective, it was just “life”.
I used to love it in Paris, I’d have liked to have lived there myself, but my choice of career made that unlikely. IT is very English-language-focussed and France is, well, French! And by working in both London and New York, I was already in the Premier League, and France would have been a step backwards.
I must be roughly the same age as this woman, had kids at roughly the same time, etc. I think mine was a little bit older, but only by a couple of years. We diverged because while I was settled down by then, she was going through the shitstorm that is life – maybe that was partly why she was interesting, because she had a different life to me?
The woman wrote in an age when a good blog could lead to a book deal. Maybe it still can? And she duly published stuff. I read her first, but it was largely a re-hash of the blog. I think she wrote some more, but I stopped at one.
At some time, years later, I got myself a Facebook account. Maybe I re-read this woman’s book? But whatever the reason, I found her on Facebook., although she’d stopped blogging by then. I forgot about it until I logged on yesterday and saw a post from her, linking to a new blog she now writes. Lots of water under the bridge, and she now writes from the perspective of having bipolar problems.
With recovery, I think a big thing early on is what manages what. Do you manage the illness, or does it manage you? I found that with the stroke – some people could spend the day in bed due to fatigue, but I fought tooth and nail to get past that. And as I managed to get more control, my world got bigger, my horizons broadened to the point where I now blog about all sorts. With this woman, I scanned through the new blog yesterday and saw posts on what seemed like a variety of subjects – there’s certainly been a change over the last couple of years, and seems to have moved away from her health. I hope that’s an indicator of recovery from her perspective too, claiming life back for herself.
The posts are quite infrequent, so presumably there is a whole load of other shit going on, and the blog is just the stuff she chooses to share with the world. I don’t detect a lot of conscious “recovery” stuff, although I suspect that she, too, would define recovery as “getting your old life back”.
Incidentally…in the mid-nineties, I used to visit Paris maybe one weekend per month, before I went to the US, before marriage, before parenthood, before flying was bad!
I used to live in and fly from Southampton, and home-to-Paris could be as little as a couple of hours. The areas I knew well were those around the fifth and thirteenth arondissements, away from the centre a little, the area around the Rue Mouffetard, the Avenue des Gobelins, out to the Place d’Italie, if those places mean anything to you. I used to stay in a tiny hotel on the Rue Censier, when not with friends.
I used to love going to the Louvre on Sundays before I flew home, first because it was free on a Sunday. and second, because the bus to Charles de Gaulle went from the nearby Opera. My wardrobe was mostly French, and I’d have places to myself when I shopped – Saturday morning was my favourite – because “real” Parisians wouldn’t get up until lunchtime!
But Paris was really my bachelor playground and after I got together with my wife, and certainly after my daughter was born, our stays in Paris were sparse. We tended to go to France still, but stayed outside the capital. I have a friend who still lives just outside Paris, so we would meet up occasionally, and children with very little language in common would play together for a few hours. Daughter and I did the obligatory trip up the Eiffel Tower etc. – if it hadn’t been for her, I wouldn’t have bothered but it was worth it just to see her face when we came out of the metro and saw the tower for the first time.
The last time, 2008, we took a day trip there – Christmas shopping – from one of our new favourite haunts, Rouen, and had to fight our way through manic crowds by the big shops.
I don’t now know when, or even whether, I’ll get back there given my mobility these days. And, I’m reluctant to travel without money coming in. It’s one of a long list of places with very fond memories, but not really vital to revisit.