Re-entry seems like an appropriate term to describe the process of re-adjusting to life in the US. Most days, I feel like an astronaut plummeting to the ocean with only a tiny parachute to slow the impact: Everything looks familiar, but the perspective is all wrong. Everyone speaks my language, but bars and restaurants are deafening and meals are rushed and where’s the good cheese anyway?? Our entire Paris apartment would fit in the kitchen of our new Midwestern apartment. I feel every bit as strange and out of place as I felt in France, but here I don’t have an excuse.

In any case, because we must, we are plowing ahead with things like work and moving. We have a new apartment that is five times the size of our Paris studio, and we’ve slowly been unpacking – and donating – boxes of things we haven’t seen in over a year. But some of the most precious things that we are definitely keeping are our souvenirs from last year. I may have cried when I unpacked our magnet collection; it’s one of the few things that makes our new, palatial apartment feel sort of like home.

Anyway, here’s the magnet collection on our tiny Paris fridge before we moved (artwork courtesy of my niece and nephew ❤️). Not pictured are magnets from London and Antigua, which we brought back to the US earlier in the year, and Morocco, which we hadn’t traveled to yet. We have magnets from everywhere except Israel, which didn’t have a single non-religious magnet in the airport gift shop, and Germany, where we had to sprint back to the train station after grabbing a beer during our hour-and-a-half layover.

Sometimes it feels like last year never happened, but I like looking at our magnets and remembering: It was real! We went to all these places! Before we moved to France, we expected that 2018 would be the hardest – but best – year of our lives, but 2019 is so far infinitely harder, maybe in part because everyone expects this transition to be easier than the last. Public service announcement: It’s not. Here’s hoping that parachute kicks in soon.

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