The streets of San Francisco’s Financial District were swarming with men in business suits and women in pencil skirts in a hurry for all different reasons and I awkwardly contributed to the endless hustle and bustle of the scattering morning. The buildings around me were breathtaking, ranging from squared, pyramid, and circular architecture. The fog was still covering up the blue sky and the air was refreshing. It was a beautiful atmosphere to appreciate if I didn’t have ten minutes to make it to the French consulate. I was walking rapidly, causing myself to begin breathing heavily, obviously making it clear that all I wanted to do was find the damn building at that point.
I stormed in with an echoing click clack of my dress shoes in the halls of the marble floored building and pressed the elevator button at least nine times with such discretion as I awkwardly forced a half smiled at the people waiting behind me while trying to control my almost hyperventilation. It was real cute. I heard they send you home if you're one minute late. I finally made it to the right floor after coming back down from a random floor, exiting the wrong set of elevators, and crossing the hall to the 1-12 level elevators which were the ones I was supposed to take in the first place because that was my life that day and situations like those happen to me all the time. It's fine. Then, I experienced a mini freak out session when I saw the security guard sitting next to the metal detecting frame for some reason. I had nothing to worry about, but just about anything was mind blowing and startling to me at that point. I had never felt so claustrophobic in a small room in my life. Not even at the club. The deep silence and a few eyes on me was a little more personal and threatening.
I sat on the edge of my uncomfortable black plastic chair staring at the room all while my impatience and nostalgia for the Starbucks next door kicked in at 100mph. The walls were so clean, yet so boringly crème colored with nothing but a big fat black and white clock on the center top of the wall. This room made me so uncomfortable for no reason. I felt like a criminal waiting for his appointment to obtain his visa in hopes of fleeing America.
There were only two booths open. There was a French man and a French woman working behind each one and they looked and sounded so legit with their French-American accents. The woman looked like a French version of Anne Hathaway. I’m not even kidding. However, the people around me were interesting. The French man was helping a middle aged Indian man who was struggling and shuffling with an array of papers in front of him. The woman was helping a bobbed haired San Francisco State University female student who found out was missing like all her express mail stamps. Finally, behind me was an older man falling asleep faster than you can say “How.”
Once the female student left the booth practically sprinting for the nearest U.S Post Office, the intercom blurted out my name and I jolted. It was loud, I was nervous, and I was startled. Thankfully, it went way better than I imagined. I was afraid that I had forgotten my passport at home or I would open my folder and it’d be empty knowing how life likes to treat me sometimes. French Anne Hathaway had a checklist ready for all the required forms I needed to present. Successfully, I provided all the forms. I felt all the feelings in the world when she paper clipped my photo to the application and filed my passport giving me a wide smile and an okay. I was getting my visa in the mail in one week and I received it in five days.
I booked it out of there to the Starbucks next door where my friend Cyle was already waiting with my drink. I came into so much realization after my consulate appointment. It was such a mixture of intense realizations with dashes of excitement. I made him wake up early and come to the appointment with me because I would have needed someone to vent to if anything went wrong. He had finished his drink and half a croissant.
“How did it go?” He asked.
“I puked all over the desk and on top of my passport."
He wanted to laugh, but didn't dare to.
"I'm kidding. It was great. Everything went surprisingly well.” I replied.
“Haha, that's good. Are you ready though? Are you excited?” He asked, as he took a bite into his croissant.
“Yeah… I think I'm ready to leave California for a year, you know? I need new and refreshing surroundings and I think France will definitely bring me that. I’m just a little nervous for the first month. I'm probably going to take the wrong bus, end up on the border of Spain and France and never make it to my first day of class or something like that. You know?”
“Do not be dramatic. I feel like once you understand how everything works and you get a hold of your routine, you’ll be all right.”
“Yeah, that’s true.”
I looked out towards the street. I’m going to miss California.
I have my life put together here. I feel under control; well, mostly. I have hot beaches just five hours south of San Francisco, the best Mexican restaurants, and grade A hole-in-the-wall type coffee places. I'll miss my friends who sneak me into the 21+ clubs , I’m going to miss the cultural clash of people walking around Dolores Park, and the perfect city view of Twin Peaks. I’ll miss missing the BART train ride back to school—actually no. I will not miss that. I’ll miss cruising down HWY 1 in my best friend’s convertible blasting Lisztomania by Phoenix, watching the California sunset on the warm, sandy beach of Huntington Beach, and the endless bonfires of Laguna beach.
However, it’s time for yet another chapter, a new beginning. It’s time for new friends, new food, and a new lifestyle. It’s time to leave those Starbucks faux-croissants and indulge into the mouthwatering fresh-out-of-the-oven-I’m-late-to-my-morning-class-but-I'm-stopping-at-the-pâtisserie-because-who-wouldn't beignets. It’s time to have a good time out on the town (legally), and time to FINALLY practice my French with natives. I think that's what I am most excited about. It’s time to bring out the scarves I never use and wear those stylish peacoats. Aix-en-Provence in nine days.