If I hadn’t gone to medical school I would never have met my first boyfriend.
If I hadn’t hated medical school I would never have gone to law school.
If I had never gone to law school I would never have met the second boyfriend.
If I hadn’t gone to NY for a summer internship he wouldn’t have broken up with me over the phone.
If he hadn’t broken up with me over the phone I would never have gone to Boston.
If I had never gone to Boston I would never have gone to that party.
If I hadn’t gone to the party I would never have met M.
If I had never met M I would never have moved to Boston.
If I had never moved to Boston M would never have followed me back to Paris.
If M had never followed me back to Paris we probably would have never moved back to California.
The linchpin was the internship orchestrated by my father. Without that one summer job I would most likely still be living in Paris. I would have gotten my degree a year earlier and I would either be teaching or working in advertising. My children – presuming I have some – would undoubtedly be French and look French. They’d wear patent leather mary-janes and thick button down wool coats with velvet collars.They would go to French schools where they’d be taught to stand when the teacher enters the room and they’d sit in little desks in neat little rows facing the blackboard. For their afternoon snack – the gouter – they would eat pain-au-lait with slabs of chocolate shoved in the middle and at night I don’t know what they would have, but it wouldn’t be mac&cheese or chicken nuggets.
I can see these children clearly, and yet I can’t picture myself as a Parisian any more. I was one for years and yet it’s so far from my current reality that I can’t place the me I am now in the world I used to call home.
I wear flip-flops to work. We eat mac&cheese and make pizza at home. We go to the beach on the weekend and watch sea lions play in the Bay. I know what to do in case of an earthquake and when people ask me where I’m from I no longer hesitate.
I’m from California. It’s my home and the home of my little Californian babies. It’s where my path has taken me.
(Want more details on the circuitous route that brought me to CA? You can read the whole story here.)