When we moved from a quaint little cobblestone town, South of Paris, to the booming financial district of La Defense where we settled across the street from a mall, I knew I had found happiness.
Don’t pity me for my lack of culture, as I know you are bound to, and just let me repeat that there was a mall. In the other town, I had nowhere to go and nobody talked to me, even on the playground. In my new area, I could take on even the coldest, rainiest days with fortitude simply by pushing the double stroller over to the mall entrance and losing myself in a Starbucks latté while trying not to lose my kids as they ran freely down the carpeted corridors. We’d all go home to our apartment for a nap afterwards, cheerful and spent.
But what was even more wonderful was the group of international friends my kids and I made. We lived in the tallest residential building in all of Europe, and our playground was in the midst of a series of high-rise buildings. The public school was located at the base of our building so we only needed to take the elevator and descend a set of steps before arriving. There, we greeted each other in the friendliest way possible, and everyone would make plans to meet up again later in the day at the playground. (more…)