Traveling abroad will make you brave in ways you never thought you’d be. I won’t eat salad, strawberries, or shrimp, but today I tried foie gras, fig bread, and scallops. I’ve been known to wake people up in the middle of the night to have them come kill spiders for me, but I’ve personally dispatched a few dozen since being here (there was a hatching in my bathroom). I don’t like even hugging people I’m not close to, but I didn’t flinch through eight rounds of cheek kissing (faire la bise), even though two of the people I was meeting were boys in their late teens. (It was a large family; apparently in France you get big financial incentives for having three or more children.)
In other ways, traveling abroad will make you a coward. Everything makes me nervous. I practice the most basic phrases in my head three or four times before attempting to say them, and I still sometimes chicken out and ask if they speak English. Never before have I realized how much English makes me comfortable, how much I depend on being able to speak and understand easily.
I haven’t done any writing yet since arriving. Truth be told, I haven’t written regularly in a while. Every time I try, I reread it and hate it. I think, if it bores me, it will certainly bore others. I’m hoping a change of scenery will help with what I can only describe as a mix of writers block and low writing self-esteem. I saw Carcassonne yesterday, and the Mediterranean, and there were a few moments, while my feet were in the water, or while I was walking the walls of the city, when I thought I might have something to say, something worthwhile. I haven’t tried writing it yet, though. There’s a part of me that wonders why I should stay inside writing when there’s a whole country out there to explore.
So far, these emotions have been battling it out. I’m not sure yet which will win, who I’ll be: a confident explorer who laughs off her language (and culture) mistakes, or a scared introvert who stays home writing and eating pizza. Time will tell. I’ve got twenty-four days left.