by Fiona McMurrey
Courtesy of Hello Her

There are no lack of songs, poems, ballads, novels, any criteria of art actually, that depict the act of “Going Home”™ as something done for self-healing, out of exasperation, and something accomplished generally with chaotic results. As such, composing a list for what to bring back to my parents from France is child’s play compared to unpacking - psychologically and physically - what I take with me on my dazed return. The result is far more poetic than practical one could argue, but this is a matter on which I am not predisposed to lie.

1. Bandaids

This one might seem counterintuitive but if you have walked half an hour in my shoes let alone a mile, bandaids are your best friend. Unfortunately, in my experiences in France, I have found that the elasticity cannot compare with whatever substance is utilized in American bandaids. Maybe it’s the same thing and their sturdiness is attributable to magical thinking, to the idea that because they are from the same box that bore witness to me pulling two inch cactus needles out of my legs after I fell unceremoniously off my thoroughbred who has moved on to greener pastures.

2. “Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever)” by Noah Kahan

Courtesy of Imprintent

Perhaps not applicable for anyone outside of New England, the 2022 album “Stick Season,” is essential listening for the homesick, to remind you why you will always return and, more poignantly, why you will always leave again. The song “You’re Gonna Go Far,” is a particular tearjerker for all expats who have decided to make their permanent home abroad. As my mother sang through her tears on the painfully sunny drive to Boston Logan, “Say whatever you feel, be wherever you are, we ain’t angry at you love, you’re the greatest thing we’ve lost.”

3. American Filter Coffee

Author of image unknown

This item is also requested by many of my American friends in Paris as it is slightly stronger than French coffee, a fact of which I am always reminded when I accidentally drink a full cup with reckless abandon and suddenly the room starts spinning and my heart-beat palpitates at a new rhythm. Born to punk parents and incurably a hipster in my own right, I would advocate for purchasing American coffee at your local coffee shop thereby supporting small business and your community.

4. Books and other Family Totems

My family is currently in the process of moving, packing up every vestige of life from their Rhode Island rental and preparing for the next phase of their, and I suppose our, peripatetic journey. As anyone who has moved several times must surely know or else is blithely unaware of, this process can be excruciating. Rarely in life, for the fortunate at least, must you decisively choose what to save in a fire, the question is usually presented in the hypothetical, that generous conditional tense that suggests nothing further than a dim, remote possibility. This time around however, my family wanted to purge everything, understandably, we are all genetically linked by the dual impulses of the hoarder and the magpie and the anxiety at saying goodbye to anything. But there we were and I snuck books intended for GoodWill into my already bursting suitcase along with a silver ice bucket that belonged to my grandparents, and took pictures upon pictures of physical photographs as if by doubling preserving them in physical form and digital, I could never again lose the people within them.

5. Swimwear

While France has many commendable athletic stores, perhaps out of a lingering thread of deeply suppressed patriotism, or having been raised watching Michael Phelps swim for the gold every four years, I prefer to buy my swimwear in the states. As I began writing this, I expected to encounter a rhyme and a reason but the only handful that have arisen require psychoanalytic treatment before they can be publically divulged. Sorry.

6. Dunkin Donuts

Courtesy of Boston CBS Local

I myself am not much of a donut aficionado and have a distinct lack of sweet tooth. The same cannot be said for my French partner, who, if possible, would probably live off of sugar alone. As such, no trip to the North East is complete without bringing him the maple-glazed souvenir of Dunkin Donuts purchased last minute through bleary, mournful eyes at one of the myriad kiosks in the Boston Logan airport. He specifically requested “Nature donuts” which I interpreted as glazed and which I purchased in tandem with the maple flavoured one - you can take the girl out of Vermont but you can’t take Vermont out of the girl or whatever.

87. Maple Candy and Maple Syrup

Courtesy of Vermont Country Store

At a risk of sounding like Buddy the Elf from the 2003 Christmas classic, “Elf,” maple-anything truly is a New England food group unto itself, the ratio of maple to designated food item drastically increasing the closer you get to the Canadian border. As such, it would be a travesty to return to France without sufficient supply of said maple products in the form of candy or syrup - whichever piques your fancy.