This September, like every September, I have conformed to the Parisian tradition of La Rentrée, meaning quite literally The Return. Every year in France starts in September and terminates in June or July, depending on how lucky one is to receive proper paid holidays. The French calendar is thus organised around that of an academic school year. One returns back to their normal humdrum life in September after all those luxurious holiday moments of bliss that made up one’s Summer. August is the official holiday month, transforming Paris into a deserted phantom land, where only hungry, overbearing American tourists, and the city’s mentally insane, too poor or too spaced out to leave, roam the streets. I stayed in Paris this August. Although I wouldn’t consider myself as one of the crazies, muttering and rambling through Paris’ neighbourhoods, insulting my mother and random passers-by, I didn’t have enough money to go anywhere. It was a very long and depressing month, waiting for something to happen, for shops to open, for jobs to become available. It reminded me of those three lonely months at the beginning of my first year in Paris, June, July and August, throughout which I would walk around town for hours on end desperately seeking something to do or someone to meet. Sometimes I would go swimming at the local pool. Other times I would hang out in a public library checking out the sad little shelf that housed the English-section. Most of the time I walked just to exhaust myself.
September’s Return back then, however, put an end to all this introspective solitary suffering. I got a job working in an English speaking call-center; I made new friends, a few successive boyfriends, and my French started to improve enabling me to actually communicate with the locals. This September, ten years later, the Return had the same therapeutic effect on me; I found a job, got some easy-peasy translation work on the side, and started to feel on the whole more positive about my life. In this respect, France’s Return is comparable to the Anglo-Saxon’s New Year’s. We make resolutions; promise ourselves that we’ll stop smoking, take up yoga, make To Do lists, find the job of our dreams; we ride on a refreshing wind of hope; we become new again. It lasts a few months, weeks, days even, and then we go back to our miserable, self-negating true selves.
Click here to read more and to check out Hell’s Hostel, an entertaining glimpse into the mind-boggling day to day shenanigans that take place in the Hostel World.