It sounds shallow, but I miss the food the most.

Well, maybe not just the food but also the things that came with that fantastic French food. Like the slower pace of life, the greater appreciation for quality, and the beautiful surroundings, more imbued with history and meaning than in America.

Now that I’m back in the U.S., specifically New York City, my life overall has once again become a whirlwind of deadlines, lease-signing, rushing and worrying. But, I brought back with me a more deeply-felt appreciation of the importance of quality relaxation. I stress “quality” because often for Americans, we relax by turning on the TV and mindlessly eating chips until we lull ourselves to sleep. For me, replace TV with a computer screen and chips with ice cream and you’ve got 75% of my down-time. My goal this year is to reduce that to 50%, because I know that entirely eliminating it won’t happen in a year. My hope is that it’ll be the same as making small goals towards eating better or exercising more: incorporate a bit into your routine, a little at a time and it begins to grow on itself. Enjoying my downtime by going for a walk or reading or spending quality time with friends and family gives me energy rather than zapping it, just like a trip to the gym (that’s still unlikely to be a place you’ll ever find me, but you never know). That dedication to push myself to a higher quality of life is the greatest gift living in France for short amount of time I did gave me.

Now, of course there are things I don’t miss about France. I don’t miss mothers and dog-owners giving me skeptical looks for praising the adorable-ness of their infant/puppy. I don’t miss the lack of ice in most water glasses. I don’t miss being somewhat nervous when speaking to a stranger, even after weeks of practicing the language. And of course, just when I was getting used to walking more slowly when going to the store or class, I returned to New York where I am now officially the slowest walker in the five boroughs. So far, it hasn’t bothered me, because I see it as a sign that the sweet atmosphere of French Provençal life still lingers in my heart, and always will.

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