My name is Nina Sovich. I am a reporter and traveler, a seeker of solitude and a woman in the perpetual grip of wanderlust. I have trekked the Karakoram mountains of northern Pakistan and braved the Saharan Tanzerouft in May. I am fearless. I am resourceful. I am not to be trifled with.

 

At the moment, however, I appear to be a mother who lives in Paris. I am married to a man from Burgundy and bringing up two French children. I am grappling with the rigid and perplexing codes of life in a country where much is expected of women – beauty, discretion, a kind of steely cheerfulness – but little is explained.

 

It is easy to feel lost here and, in the context of France, I am infinitely trifle-able.

 

This blog is the story of love, but also of loss. In my youth, I lived in or visited Pakistan, Palestine, Egypt and Azerbaijan. I loved the quiet and the heat of the desert. I remember trekking in the Sinai—a place so barren and harsh not a few tribes bemoaned the trek out of there—and thinking, what a lovely place for a summer house. The excitement, the fear, the sense of discovery, felt for me, like love.

 

Then after a series of heartbreaking affairs and frustrating professional turns, I fell for a French man. He was kind, he was sure. I moved to Paris to be with him because it was and is unimaginable to live without his love.

 

But I still yearned for the freedom and excitement of travelling alone. Soon I found myself in West Africa where I explored the continent from Dakar to Timbuktu, as I tried to reconcile my devoted married self with my adventure-loving side.

 

Those early years of marriage were not easy but I did make peace with the life I have chosen. Now with small children in hand, it is hard to spend a month in a tent alone in the Sahara. The long weekend in Marrakech or Venice is possible, however, and from Paris relatively easy.

 

This blog is devoted to those stolen days. It is about the need to find solitude even while feeling alienated in a foreign culture. It is about reconciling the adventurer and the mother, without sacrificing either my own sanity or that of my children.

 

And it is about all the mysteries that go into French culture. How does one eat cheese after every lunch and resist obesity? How does a family of five finance four vacations a year? How does one come to care, truly care, about beautiful lingerie?

 

These are the questions I set out to answer, and many more.

Nina Sovich

 

 

Landing page illustration by Natalie Turturro