“Je vois la vie en rose.”
“I see only beautiful things in this life.”
Or something along those lines.
That’s how the French people used this line in their context, popularized by the singer Edith Piaf and by that 2008 American movie of the same name.
Every single day I spend learning French, I pick up not just grammar rules and vocabulary but a collection of local expressions and must-see places (courtesy of my fancy professor haha!) I didn’t really have a particular inclination or love for France or Paris; I am more of a girl who wanted to see everything, the whole world. Hearing my professor tell our class, “When you go to Paris,…” with the conviction that he truly believes that we would all be able to go really makes my heart flutter with flattery and excitement of the prospect of a future in Paris. Especially when he adds at the end, “Especially for the French majors,” and by this he means me and my other friend, “You should visit this place when you go to France.” There’s nothing really more kilig than having your professor believe in you, especially when he believes that you’d be successful enough in the future to travel to France.
I’ve never always considered myself bewitched by “wanderlust”, as people call it; I used to believe it’s a concept that’s for really cool, rich, and obligations-free people, but I’ve been feeling this itch to go and see the rest of the world for quite a while now. This restlessness suddenly cranked up more or less when I entered college, and now the urge to just drop everything and go somewhere has been piling quite nicely in my head (and in my heart).
These days I feel this really intense longing to be somewhere far, far away, surrounded by strangers and their little stories and their smiles and grief and the anonymity that serves not as a wall but as a unifying trait that we all share. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s here in Asia or in Europe, or even in Africa or Latin America–I just want to be with them.
Of course, I really love my family and–at times–my friends (lol) but I think there’s something more magical about being on your own, getting lost at unfamiliar corners and finding little moments to keep as treasure instead of something tangible but superficial.
Not that I’m romanticizing the idea of getting lost–I’m certainly the last person who would want to be lost somewhere, especially in another country, given my track record of getting lost even in my most routine-like travels here in the metro. There really isn’t a place that anyone could “safely” get lost in without worrying about all sorts of crimes and bad intentions from strangers. If there is one, please feel free to send me a one-way ticket. No preamble, no turning back.
What I really fear the most is that I’d waste away what’s left of my youth stuck in front of the same people, the same tableau. Sometimes the problems of this country, and even the people, can be really frustrating but it’s not the reason why I want to leave. I just really want to see the world. I want to pack my whole life in one bag and just leave, be somewhere else. I just feel like this isn’t just the place I should be in. I feel like I should be everywhere, like I shouldn’t be just one mass, one piece–like I should be made of fragments left in every secret corner of this world I visit, or every person I see on a foreign street.
I want to study abroad and not spend my time there swallowing textbooks but learning to be with them, to be another blurry face in the train, another pale face crossing the street while carrying a to-go cup of coffee. I want to be a student of different cultures, an apprentice of their natives on how to live a day (or year) of their mundane lives.
I want to see colors in a different perspective; I want to see if their skies held the same shade of pink that I remember from my childhood home. Or see if other people taste the same blue that I do.
I want to plant myself in a place where I can drop my guard completely and lose myself to the strangers around me. I want to wrap myself with anonymity and take comfort in its security.
I want to be able to just hop on to a random train and sit on lumpy seats, and I’d spend the whole train ride writing in my journal about new dreams and aspirations, about people, about food and culture, about art. I want to step into a random museum and just look around, absorb how other people viewed and created their own art. I want to own a camera, and I’m no professional but I want to be able to take one snapshot (or three), freely without any restriction or any second thought.
I want to be jailed, just for a moment, because I fell in love. With something. Or even with “someone”. It doesn’t matter if I find love along the way, because what matters to me is that no matter how early or delayed I am, I want to learn to simply hop on to the next train and move forward to my next adventure, without chains like obligation and society’s expectations for an “innocent, unattached, and young woman”–fuck that.
“La vie en rose”–the beautiful things in life aren’t found in a single place; they’re scattered around the world, owned not just by one people and viewed as beautiful not by everyone. I want to see all those beautiful things, things that sometimes would only be beautiful in my perspective. Life shouldn’t be denied of beauty.
When I’m steady on my feet, I’m going to bolt and run not to the nearest destination I could think of, but to the farthest that I could go until I am captured, enraptured. And from there, I will fling myself into a life that’s filled with curious things, and little treasured moments more valuable than any superficial material.
There would be no promise of returning–but I will, of course I will. But I will be different then; I will be abstract, neither here nor there, boundless–and that is how I will travel. Free.