I grew up in Nice, France. This city, that I have rediscovered recently, allowed me to have an easy and free adolescence. The climate was idyllic, I went to the beach after school and all through summers, my friends all lived in the same area and we never had to catch a bus, walking everywhere. Nice was fine but for some reason, I come to realize that I never really envisioned to stay there. For as long as I can remember, I was dreaming of other places.
My father is French and my mother American. The notion of travel and especially expatriation was not only present but essentially, the reason for my being. My mother left the USA when she was 21 and didn’t look back until much later. As a young couple, my parents lived abroad. In Morocco before my birth and Jordan shortly after. I spent my first 3 years playing on the beaches of the Red Sea. We used to visit my grandmother in New York and once we were back in Nice, I would close my eyes in bed imagining I was there. I fantasized about having a duplex in Manhattan. It was only a short leap from Nice to other continents.
Through a series of circumstances, I ended up studying in Australia and have been living here since February 2004. I left Nice on Friday the 13th and landed in Sydney on Valentine’s day. I like to think these dates were charged with symbols, and if not, at least they are memorable. Nevertheless, once I got my degree, now 3 years ago, it did not really cross my mind to leave. I have built a life here which I am very grateful for. From Nice, I have the climate and the water. From Australia, I have the laid-back-can-do way of life and Thai food. Sometimes, I think I am uprooted like a tree struggling against the wind but maybe I am more like an ocean, flowing between continents and hemispheres. No borders, no limits, everywhere at once.
After I graduated, I worked as a graduate architect for 2 years in a small office in Surry Hills, the Architecture beehive of Sydney. Those couple of years were great. We had a busy work life balanced by a busy social life. We earned money and enjoyed it. Nevertheless, there was a voice in my head that was urging me to have a break, take some distance and figure out what I wanted to do with my life.
Just over a year ago, I got married on a beautiful summer day in the Sydney Botanical Gardens. Rather than having a traditional honeymoon, we had made the decision to take some time off and go traveling. We went across Asia to Europe by bus, train, boat and bike. It took 8 months before we arrived in Nice with the plan of staying until Christmas. After so much time on the road, our heads were full of ideas, projects and a sense of new beginning. We settled in for a few months and got to work on some personal projects.
This blog was born during that time. As I told someone recently, Aloud. is the sort of thing that happens when you have too much time on your hands. These couple of months spent working on this project were a small revelation. As we were leaving Nice, a couple of weeks ago, I told my husband that I felt as though I had just brushed, with the tip of my finger, the life I want to have. It suddenly felt precious and fragile. So easily lost.
Back to Australia
As I struggle with jet-lag and prepare to settle back into my Australian life, I think about this quote I used recently “You can never step into the same river twice, for the river has changed and you have changed.” It is hard to tell how much the river has changed but I know I have. I feel like the last 10 years, from the first time I left home, have brought me to this moment where anything is possible and depends on me. Life isn’t something that merely happens, it must be built and I am my own architect.
The road ahead
As I contemplate the future, it seems a bit premature to say too much about my ideas. My aim is to keep promoting talent and creativity which seems to be so abundant all around me. The form it will take is something I have been thinking about almost constantly and I am not scared anymore. Of course, things may not work out the way I would like but I am ready to go on that journey anyway. Hopefully, I won’t be traveling alone.