Let me preface this post by emphasizing how much I love living in the United States. When I came here in 2011, I fell in love with Austin, TX instantly. I felt at home right away and it’s not a coincidence that I chose the USA to start a family of my own.
I always joke that the only thing I miss about France is the cheese but that’s just a facade I keep up. I miss more than our delicious food, so much so that if I let myself experience those feelings fully it gets quite overwhelming. So, I usually think about it in silence and keep these feelings to myself. I’m not fully sure why.
The truth is being an expat isn’t always easy. Sometimes I feel like a part of me is missing. I miss my friends and family of course, but not only that. It’s hard to admit. Maybe because it was my choice to leave? I miss France. I miss the smell of freshly baked bread from when I’d walk by the boulangerie in the morning. I miss turning on the radio in the car and hearing people speak French. I miss cheap French beer and the fancy champagne too. Maybe I miss my childhood the most, and friends therein.
Here, no one understand French references from Le Diner de Cons or Astérix et Obelix: Mission Cléopatre. They don’t understand what’s so funny about where’s Bryan?
I get a rush of butterflies in my stomach thinking about my best childhood memories like cheering for my local soccer team with friends. And then I feel sad that I’ll never experience it again. There’s a delicate balance between remembering happy feelings and accepting that these memories are just that: memories of time gone by. My boys likely won’t grow up experiencing that intense bond and passion I had for soccer. Maybe they’ll like football or basketball, but there’s something special about the soccer fever in Europe that you can’t experience anywhere else.
It’s even tough to see France on TV, mostly when something terrible happens. It can tear me apart watching those images. I occasionally look at photos of my hometown, Troyes, and barely recognize it. Of course, life went on without me. Still, it does something to me and I feel like a stranger – a stranger to my old life in France
Being an American citizen
As I’m filling out my application to become a U.S. citizen, I feel nostalgic, but mostly happy and proud. I’ve wanted to be American since I was a kid, and somehow it’s actually going to happen. Americans are funny you know. They drink champagne with orange juice but they think we, French people, are weird for eating pasta with ketchup.
Living here taught me a lot about the world, about people, and about myself. I’d have to write a book to tell you about it all so I’ll just stop here for today. The bottom line is that I will never forget France. I’ll tell my kids about France and we’ll travel to France together. I’m delighted to be on my way to becoming a certified, for real, 100% Franco-American.