Chantilly

Location Paris, France

Hello, old friend. It’s been a while, and I’ve missed you dearly.

This article is something that has been really difficult for me to write. I consider myself to be an extremely private person, and I don’t really like to broadcast everything that’s going on in my life; however I feel that I owe you an explanation for my sudden disappearance, and to be honest, I think that this is just something I really need to talk about. So settle down and get comfortable, because this is a long one, and it’s going to get personal.

You may have noticed that it’s been just over 4 months since I last updated Virevolter, and that the last few articles before my absence were a little bit dark, and maybe even a little out of character. Unfortunately, despite being unbelievably excited to move to Italy and to start a new adventure, when I arrived things did not go as planned or expected. I ended up in a situation where I was being mistreated, bullied and taken advantage of, where my beliefs and lifestyle were not respected and where previously agreed terms and working conditions were completely disregarded. The situation started out okay, but was slowly deteriorating right from the beginning, and soon began to rapidly decline to a point where I didn’t feel safe. Therefore at the beginning of June, I made the difficult decision to abruptly leave the host family, and end my time as an au pair.

Living in such a toxic situation really took a toll on my happiness, health and creativity – it put me in such a horrible, self-doubting headspace that I had no motivation or inspiration to create photographs, to write, to do anything really. I was constantly questioning whether what was happening was my fault, how I could fix it and why it was happening, and it put me in a space where I just wanted to curl into a ball and do nothing. I stopped creating imagery, stopped writing, stopped reading, and began to avoid all the creative outlets I had, the things that make me, me, because I honestly didn’t know what to do, what to say, or how to convey how I was feeling. It definitely wasn’t the healthiest way to deal with the situation, but I was at such a loss as to what I was doing wrong and why it was happening to me, that I just didn’t know what to do.

Looking back now, I can see that it wasn’t my fault, and that there really wasn’t anything more I could have done to change what happened. Honestly, I feel a bit cheated. I was so looking forward to moving to Italy and having a new adventure, and put so much of myself into it; that to be completely taken advantage of and treated so horribly makes me feel like I missed out on what could have been such an incredible experience, and a bit like those months of my life were wasted.

It’s taken almost a whole month for me to even start to feel like me again, and to make my way back here to Virevolter. There’s been a few stops along the way, but I’ve ended up in Paris, a city that I love dearly. I’ve been here for a few weeks now, staying at a friend’s place (thank you, Bérangère!), and I think it’s been the best thing that I could do for myself right now.

This set of photographs feels like the perfect fresh start for me, and for Virevolter; a return to the things I love. Getting dressed up, twirling in front of castles, eating delicious food, and adventures with one of my dearest friends (warning, this is going to get real sappy). One of the reasons I headed to Paris was to see Monique, one of my bestest friends who is currently following her dreams in Paris. I couldn’t be happier for or prouder of her, and she actually recently started a blog about her adventures, which you should totally check out! Although she’s working full time, we managed to spend a day exploring Disneyland Paris together, and just the other day we ventured a little bit out of Paris to visit the Château de Chantilly.

Chantilly was a dream: we twirled, we skipped, we danced, we picnicked in the gardens, we ate chantilly cream in the kitchen of the chef who supposedly invented it, we explored the art gallery and apartments, we saw horses and donkeys, we got locked in (100% serious – apparently closing times are just suggestions here), and we just had the most amazing day. It was exactly what I needed; a day to remind myself of what I love to do and who I am.

Monique brought this up on our day at Chantilly, but we actually have the most unique friendship story. Although we’re both from Australia, we’re from opposite sides of the (very big) country. We met whilst working together at Walt Disney World, next saw each other on two short trips I made to Sydney, and our most recent adventures have seen us twirling in front of castles and playing in the streets of Paris. I’m so lucky to have friends from all over the world, and whilst it might suck not being able to see them whenever I want, it does make the time spent together even more special. It was actually Monique who encouraged me to come back here to Virevolter, something that I had been thinking about and wanting to do for weeks. I just wasn’t sure how to approach it; and if I’m being truly honest, I was a little scared. So when Monique surprised me by saying ‘don’t think I haven’t noticed you haven’t posted in forever‘, I was a bit taken aback. To be honest, I didn’t think anyone actually read or checked Virevolter regularly enough to know that I hadn’t posted in a while, so to find out that someone does, even one of my closest friends, was a bit surprising, but in the best of ways. I know all of my friends love and support me, but there’s a difference between wanting someone to succeed, and actively following and contributing to their journey.

I’m not someone who has ever had just one ‘best’ friend – I’ve always had a small group of people that I consider my closest friends, and I’m not going to make them compete for the title of ‘best’ friend. Sometimes you just meet people who are kindred spirits, and you know you’re going to be friends for life. I guess what I’m trying to say through all this sappiness is that I am so grateful to have a friend like Monique, who always knows what to say or do to cheer me up, who supports and encourages me in everything I do, is always willing to go on adventures and puts up with all my weirdness. I can’t wait for many more years of visiting castles and meeting characters and being obnoxious – I love you more than Pooh loves honey or Tigger loves bouncing, and there’s no one I would rather twirl in front of castles with than you!

Top: Bruug
Skirt: Virevolter
Sandals: Zomp

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