Running is unmistakeably a huge part of my life and who I am. Naturally, that's meant that in order to remain (debate-ably) sane, I've needed to keep up the running habit overseas, and that has been easier said than done given I'm from California. Today the high is hovering around 27, and the warmest it's been this week is about 32. I've never been one to just plain old give up though, so I'm bearing the cold temperatures to the best of my ability. As a result, I layer it up with the long sleeved wicking shirts, arm warmers, and gloves, though I desperately need to buy a legitimate running jacket so I don't look like the Michelin man, though if there's any country where it's slightly appropriate to look like him, I guess it would be France. The Michelin brothers were French, after all.
It's also more than necessary to run considering the amount of butter, sugar, and cream that is loaded into food over here, so running is also as much of a health and sanity thing as it is a vanity thing. One of my best friends is getting married upon my return stateside, and as one of my host mama's friends jokingly put it, "il faut etre tres fine, taille 36!" roughly translated to "you've gotta be real thin, size 8!"
Nevertheless, this running habit of mine has led me to become involved with a marathon training group in Paris, which is where you'll usually fine me at the hour of 9 on Saturday mornings. I've also volunteered to become one of the groups three head "coaches," as I'm one of the most experienced members of the group, despite being the youngest.
As a result, despite that it was cold, cold, and more cold today, I dragged my ass out to the train and then into Paris for an easy 10k around the Bois de Boulogne. Having people to show up to makes the cold bearable.
Luckily, today my friend Iris showed up, and we did a good three laps around the large lake together. Iris is, simply put, awesome. She's probably mid to late thirties and single, but again, she's lead a fascinating life. She grew up in Germany near the French border, and her mom was a French teacher. She did her undergrad in France and has worked all over Europe--in fact, she spent two years living in London, then one year living and working in Vienna, and now she's working in Paris. We had a good conversation as we ran today about living around the world and how good and necessary it is, if you can, to see what you can while you can.
I talked to her about how much appreciation I have for different lifestyles now that I'm living in a different country, and how I get discouraged sometimes back in the states about how narrow minded people can be, because we're not as exposed to different countries, languages, and people. Europeans are used to having more than one country next door, or even surrounding them, so they seem to be a lot more tolerant, a lot more cultured, more open to learning. We talked about missing family and the holidays, as she can hop on a train and go home within two hours; we talked about the time she spent a year living in New York City as an undergrad while interning for a German company and how she loved it. I shared some of my anxieties about the possibility of being in France for two more years, and she was very encouraging.
Being able to chat with her was nice, and as much as sometimes it's odd to be the "pipsqueak," as I put it, of the group, it's more than lovely to be able to talk to people who are older than I am and who can give me some perspective on living the international life, or life in general. I may be stubborn in my decisions, but I'm definitely not someone to go into decisions blindly, and I tend to mull things over, and I do a hell of a lot of investigating my options before I decide which one I'll take.
Call Iris some form of investigation, call her a running comrade, call her a friend, but whatever I end up calling her, I'm really glad she's there.