After 35 hours in transit I made it back to Nice and the city has welcomed me with glorious, bright, warm, sunny weather.
Despite all of my traveling, I have yet to figure out how to pack light. This is a cause of great consternation for the Englishman, who manages to never bring more than will easily fit in his tiny and stylish antique suitcase.
This latest trip was no different. I used every ounce of luggage space allotted to me, resulting in one behemoth of a suitcase and two deceptively small yet bone crushing, densely packed carry-ons.
If anything could teach me to change my horderesque ways when it comes to packing, the myriad bruises on my hips, knees and shoulders might do the trick.
After sleeping my way through the past couple of days I have emerged from the thick haze of exhaustion and jet lag, and I find myself back in this lovely and increasingly familiar place.
Things are just as I left them here, and it was nice to come back to what is becoming a comfortable home.
The view from the balcony off the living room is my favorite thing about the Englishman's apartment. No matter what time of day or night, there is something going on in the little square below, making it hard to feel completely alone.
I have come to appreciate the familiar sounds here: the little fountain in the middle of the road below the apartment that splashes and gurgles through the day and night, and the sense of calm order that comes with the subtle clang of the tram a few streets over as it passes its nearest stop.
It will take some getting used to though, being along again. The Englishman won't be able to visit for another few weeks, so for the time being it's just me knocking around in these rooms and in this city.
It is an especially stark contrast coming from the west coast where I was so ensconced in the familiarity of friends and family for so long.
But I am someone who enjoys a certain level of solitude. It surprises me sometimes how easily I find ways to fill my time. In recent days I have discovered a newfound appreciation for the intrinsic value of the podcast.
Now that I have finally escaped the clutches of the most brutal jet lag I've experienced, I've been out and about, checking in on my favorite things and places here.
The Cours Seleya flower and fruit market is just as bustling as ever, each table artfully laden with colorful Ranunculus and spring's early strawberries. And my beloved Islam Viandes, Nice's most unassuming and affordable grocery outpost, is as well priced and well stocked as ever. I loaded up my shopping bag yesterday with every vegetable I could hold for €7. The best deal in the city I am convinced.
March is proving to be one of the best times to be in Nice. The weather is mild and warm this month; a gentle training period for the scorching heat that is just around the corner.
The city is palpably preparing for the onslaught of tourists and sun lovers that will descend in the next few months; repairing sidewalks and sprucing up storefronts while the throngs are still relatively tame.
For the next few weeks though, the gorgeous Mediterranean will be empty. The pebbly beach is scattered with the constant sunbathers and students, but the glassy indigo water seems to be untouched for the moment.
I forgot how different it is being here 6,000 miles from home. How the act of getting on an airplane, as banal as it has become, can transport you to a different reality.
I am easing back into my French life. I have visions of hosting dinner parties, filling the apartment with interesting French friends (or any friends really). I have a ways to go before reaching that goal though. Now that I'm back, I'm taking things one day at a time. My first order of business is to expand my social interactions beyond the friendly guys at the Arab grocers.