I’ve been told that the sense of smell has an incredibly strong connection with the part of the brain that evokes memories. As I deeply inhaled the crisp Mediterranean air, I found myself thinking that it smelled like Christmas. It was mostly the smell of burning firewood that brought on this memory, but as I looked around I realized that the setting has slowly been changing around me. The Christmas lights have been hung and the temperature has dropped into what I like to call “the milds” — surely not as cold as an East Coast winter, but cold enough for me to complain. The Christmas season has always been a time for family and friends, hearty meals, warm apple cider, and snow boots…these are a few of my favorite things…when the dog bites, when the bee stings…ok I’ll stop, but seriously, If I could throw up a gang sign for the Trapp Family right now, I’d be representin’. All of these things bring back cozy memories of winter in Vermont–my first home, but not my only home.
Leaving Vermont to make a new nest in San Francisco meant leaving the familiar and the comfy, taking risks, being lonely, and discovering some new “favorite things.” Burritos from Papalote’s, babysitting for the Carter Family, Golden Gate Park, the Yoga Garden, nights out in the Mission, and friends who could blackmail me because they know me so well. But settling in SF was not easy for me either, and I recall many nights during my first year where I cried myself to sleep and longed to go home to where it was comfortable, to where I was known and to where I felt important. But as San Francisco became my home, my longing to go back to Vermont lessened and it became the place of my childhood; it’s somewhere to visit, but never again to live.
And now I’ve found myself in France, and I’m wondering again will I ever be so comfortable here that I won’t want to leave this place? I’m starting to get the hang of Sete, its people, its language, its cuisine…and as of very recently I’ve felt like I’m settling in.