I have no roots.

I realize this each summer when I travel back to Paris where I grew up.

I have no roots. I feel it every so often while experiencing micro culture shocks while living in America.

Here in the states, I feel very French and sometimes think Americans are silly, not realizing I am now one of them. In Paris, I often find French people very snob, not fully admitting that I am one of them as well.

I came to the United States to open a branch of the Parisian company I was working for, with my firefighter husband and two kids in tow. I came for a year and never left. I fell in love, again.

For the first two months in Miami, I thought I could never get used to the place, I mean, the airport had purple carpet, and the PA system kept on yelling : “Bienvenidos a las playas.’’

I was already in shock, culture shock that is. And I was not an innocent tourist, I had lived in San Francisco, New York, Sydney, Africa, and London before.
Then the violet sunsets, the mighty breezes and the relaxed mood sank in and I decided to stay, despite the fact that the people in Miami never went to the beach, still a mystery to me.

Now I am an American citizen, but each time I return to France, I blend in right away. No one stares at me, they ignore me, I am part of the crowd, I am French.

My first impression each time I get out of the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris is the smell. It stinks. Between cigarettes (yes, they still smoke way too much) and the pollution in the air, my lungs shriek in disbelief, my pores immediately clog up, and my head starts pounding. Yes, the first thing I do each time I travel back to Paris is to get a headache- welcome back.