There's 2 things I want to say and they are:
1. Now, I cannot go into the city anymore and not come across a French person
or 2, or 3 or even more depending on how long I'm in the city for. I don't live or work in the city and usually rarely go but since I started my classes at Alliance Française in January I have had to go in at least once a week. As well as this, summer (that's December-February just to remind you so you're not confused ;) ) heralds the start of a series of wonderful outdoor free events all over the city so I have been going in a LOT more than usual.
It doesn't matter if I'm walking down the street, in a store or mall, in a cafe or restaurant, on a bus or train, somewhere, somehow I will start to hear French being spoken into a phone, or to another person! And I am certain that the majority of these people are not tourists either but actually live here (mostly on the working holiday visa, I'm sure).
2. If you don't put yourself out there you will not meet new people no matter where you are.
Let me warn you now this is going to be long-winded. OK, so sometime in the near future I want to go to France. If I haven't said it enough times already I'm saying it again. Not for a holiday comme tout le monde but to actually live. Now I know people are going to poo poo my idea so I have not even told that many people close to me in real life about my idea (on another note, I haven't told a single person about this blog either as it's my secret hideaway...)
I have travelled extensively and lived overseas and I know what I'm like and I know what everybody else is like too. When you are in your own city you never really see the big picture, you never take time to really soak it all in, you end up taking everything for granted and perhaps resenting the fact that you are stuck 'here'. You think that by going elsewhere your problems will vanish. But, if you actually take the time to appreciate and be grateful for what you have, it really isn't so bad not to go anywhere.
OK that didn't make any sense.
What I'm trying to say is, I know that I live in one of the most beautiful and desirable cities in the world. Sure it sounds boastful but meh. I absolutely LOVE showing people around my city. Love it, love it. So much so I even thought about being one of those tour guides until reality came back to me. I am not sure if have mentioned this before, but I have met some people through Couch surfing and other websites and when I have time I show them around various parts of Sydney or invite them to my place. I love the comments as other people make me see things in a way that I've never seen before. I actually understand what people mean when they say they have a baby and see everything as fresh and new, through their baby's eyes. As well as this, I spend time alone just walking around the harbour foreshore and soaking it all in like a tourist would.
Today I had some time to kill and I went to the historic Rocks district, which is one of the oldest parts of Sydney. Today, it is now filled mainly with arts and craft stores and high end restaurants/cafes. I wandered into one of those information offices (which I don't ever remember going into!) and discovered that it was huge. There was all sorts of tourist information and also a big shop selling interesting things, souvenirs and books.
Then I went to Customs House in Circular Quay (nearby) to see a (temporary) outdoor exhibit for Chinese New year, these 2 huge 3D orange/red lit up origami tigers. I have been to Customs House a few times (it has a spectacular lit up model of Sydney city, which is housed under the glass floor). You literally see the city from a birds eye view, and it's all free.
What I didn't know though, was that between my last visit and today's (God, how long had it been?) they had put a library in there! On the ground and first floors there is a mini library. They also have an extensive collection of Japanese and Korean (don't know why just those languages) books, and CDs, videos and DVDs.
I had some time to kill and found a magazine section! Aaah. This is the life. I love magazines and in here, I can read them all for free on the comfortable black leather armchairs.
I headed straight for the foreign language section bien sûr and pulled out some Vogue Paris magazines. I also got another Australian one. So I was sitting blissfully in this armchair.. I took my shoes off and curled my legs under me... reading my stash of magazines. I also read an American one called the Atlantic or something.
There I was reading an article in Vogue Paris about some Australian guy and how he had worked for all sorts of different big companies. There was a photo of him with his wife and child. OK it wasn't really an article, it was only a few sentences but I was engrossed by it because this guy seemed to have achieved so much...
I was not even aware that someone was standing over me and looking over my shoulder until they started talking to me. A beautiful girl with long blonde hair asked if I had finished with the other Vogue Paris magazine and I said hadn't started it but I flipped through the first one quickly and gave it to her, and then mentioned there was one more left on the shelf.
She sat down on the armchair opposite mine and then I looked up at her. She was beautiful, not in a drop dead gorgeous model way, but in a cute girl-next-door way but what mesmorised me was her hair, not her face.
I couldn't help but notice that her hair was long and dead straight, almost down to her waist, in exactly the same style I had until about 3 weeks ago (when I had about 7-8 inches cut off and nobody even noticed :( but that's another story). Of course mine is not blonde and never will be (nor do I want it to be!) but later on I found my thoughts wafting back to primary school when I was around 6-8 years of age. Maybe it had something to do with Barbie, I don't know, but I loved long, straight, blonde hair. This was in the 80s when it was not cool to have straight hair, but wild curly frizzy hair! hahaha. I had the exact opposite: dark and straight hair. Still, during my childhood I thought long, straight, blonde hair was the most beautiful thing ever... So I could never be blonde but I have always had (naturally) dead straight hair that's long and I've received loads of compliments on it so I'm happy.
So where was I?
We both kind of looked at each other and wanted to speak at almost the exact same time, yet there was also a bit of hesitancy. I don't even remember who spoke first. I asked her if she was French, and she asked me if I read or study French. So we got talking... Then her boyfriend came over from the internet area and they told me they were on the working holiday visa (like everybody under 30 is) and going to travel around New Zealand first (like everybody) before coming back to settle in Sydney, although I use that word 'settle' lightly when it comes to 20 something-ers on a WHV ;) So we agreed to meet up when they got back!
Now, when I was in my early 20s I used to always think to myself, why don't I ever meet people like in the movies.. in the movies you always seem to see people accidently bumping into others, who end up being their girl/boyfriend or good friend. They always seem to meet in such interesting ways and I remember thinking that it has no semblance to real life!!
Now, looking back I knew exactly what my problem was. I was living at home with fairly strict parents. Enough said... but those days are long gone (thank God!!).
However, in my attempt to ready myself for France (and just to make my life more interesting in general) over the past few months I have done things I wouldn't normally do... and because of these things, I have met a whole heap of new people. Now I know that with the majority we won't be in touch with each other much but still... I would say that just in the last 3 months I have met easily over 50 people through different avenues, a handful of which are already very good and close friends of mine. In fact, sometimes I think I even have more in common with them than with my long-time friends that I met 10, 15 or 20 years ago.
So I think in a way, today's meeting wasn't really chance at all.. maybe it was just meant to happen. Who knows? The funny thing is, it really is true that you find things when you aren't looking for them. There is no way in the heck I went into that library expecting to meet someone there!
I read somewhere that French people (particularly Parisians or those in big cities) go out to see and be seen. I definitely think the more places you go, the more things you do opens you up to a world of opportunity when it comes to meeting people and let's face it, meeting people is fun! I love nothing more than to be able to help people and it would also be nice if they could help you too. Of course this is not a pre-requisite but if you get along with someone this usually happens anyway without much thinking or effort.
Something else I've noticed amongst people I know is (and it's not everyone, just some) that those coupled-up people tend to spend their life in a 'bubble'. It's like once they have their partner they don't need to hang around other people anymore. They don't need to put themselves out there and I think that is a very very bad and stupid thing to do. Noone knows what's going to happen in the future. Anything could happen. If you put all your eggs in one basket that's only going to spell trouble. Especially if you're in a foreign country without the support of family and friends. If you break-up with your partner (or worse, something happens to them) who will you turn to if you haven't created a social/support network for yourself? Plus it's always good to network for job opportunities too!
I really think that friends are just as important as family... and never ever put all your eggs in one basket!
I'm not sure what purpose this article is supposed to have but it's my blog and I just wanted to get some thoughts out on this topics. C'est tout!
On another note, there did seem to be a rather large number of spreads in Vogue Paris featuring bare breasts and while this didn't offend me, I guess I have been brainwashed into prudish anglo saxon ways and found it a little bizarre.. but funny in a way too.
Photos: Pablo808, on-line_writer and orin robert john.