A Return To The Land I Was Born

Reflections on going to Paris

Melissa Chanthalangsy
2 min readSep 26, 2022
Photo by Tom Paolini on Unsplash

Today, I’m flying back to the country I was born. The country that shaped my childhood, my life.

I feel nostalgic, happy, sad, excited all at once. To have once been called ma puce to now be called Madame, just like that.

I’d been meaning to reflect on my departure weeks ago. Yet, here I am at the gate among the sounds of vacuums, announcements, the pitter-patter of shoes, roller bags, and hushed voices, about to board a plane that will take me to a layover before another one takes me to Paris.

I’d seen photos of Americans going to Paris this past summer. I envied them to no end. The clichéd captions with “Paris is magical” and snapshots of gold-tipped architecture overlaid with gentle accordion background music across my media feed beckoned me to return even as I saw right through the romanticized, curated versions of this bustling, capitalist, international city.

I used to call France “The Motherland.” It’s my birthplace after all. Then again, the circumstances that led to my birth in that country can be traced back in time. First, colonization of my ancestors’ homeland and what I can only assume, violence. Then, a place of refuge. A second chance.

I’m not sure what to make of my relationship with France, given the political history, but I know it’ll always be a part of me. Going back is not only for leisure, food, and play. It’s also a filial duty. A family affair. Reuniting with and being reminded of the heavy history that brought me here, now.

So here’s to France. To family. To the past and the present.