The Revolving Door

Isabelle M. is currently a junior at SYA France and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Wilmington Friends School in Delaware.

Two adults standing in jackets on a bridge in front of a river

I am standing, spinning, in a revolving door. It's odd, though, because this is not an ordinary door. Not the kind you spin through half a rotation just to enter the lobby of some five-star hotel. This door does not stop, and where there would normally be openings allowing for easy in-out traffic, there are windows. Every window we pass by has a different assortment of people behind it: first, a family. A husband and a wife, both aging and probably close to retirement. Second, teenagers. Staring at Apple phones and carrying hydro flasks; they must be Americans. Third, a group of adults. They wear stripes and scarves and a lot of layers, so clearly, they're French. Fourth, a faceless crowd. They are all dressed for different occasions, some in dresses, some in jeans, carrying bags that all serve very different purposes. There are suitcases, purses, and backpacks. Fifth, a continuation of the fourth, only this time, rather than stagnantly staring forward, stuck in place, they are walking. Or, rather, their legs are moving as if they were walking, but they are not going anywhere.

I rotate in the revolving door, and with every rotation, I see all five groups of people, again and again. Some, like the group of teenagers, interact with me, raising a hand to wave or laughing at something I must have said. Others pretend I am not there, like the faceless crowds of Four and Five. Perhaps they would react if I interacted with them directly, but I don't bother. I spin in this door for hours, days, months. I can't draw, but I have spent so much time seeing the faces of those on the other side of the glass that I could probably recreate their likenesses perfectly with a pen and paper. Family, teenagers, adults, faceless and still, faceless and moving.  Family, teenagers, adults, faceless and still, faceless and moving. Over and over and over again. Family, teenagers, adults, faceless and still, faceless and moving. Family, teenagers, adults, faceless and still, faceless and–wait. 

A large group of students standing outside near a large amount of international flags

Where there formerly stood the constantly moving but never progressing horde of faceless people, there is now just… nothing. Where could they have gone? I swear I saw them just seconds ago–

The door continues to rotate, not leaving me enough time to stare at the empty space through the glass. Maybe I’m just being paranoid at this point, but it seems like I'm spinning faster than before. The door whips me around and around, and the faceless people behind door five don't return. Around, around, around, and around, and then–look at that. The faceless and stagnant crowd, formerly behind door four, have disappeared too, leaving nothing in their place. I start to panic, and I don't know why. I never knew these people. Never said a word to any of them, at least not other than the odd “pardon,” and “excusez-moi.” Yet, somehow, their absence makes me uneasy. These faceless people, dressed for different destinations, their minds occupied with their own daily stressors, probably never even noticed me, standing next to them on the bus and metro, but I noticed them. They were a constant. They were reliable. And now, they are gone. 

I try to get out of the revolving door to no avail. I don't want to be here anymore, but I stepped onto the door’s platform of my own accord–now I have to stay until the end. I don't know much about this revolving door, but clearly, there's no quitting just when the going gets rough.

As I continue to rotate, the people behind the other doors disappear too. The French adults, the American teens, the family. Soon, surrounding me on all sides is, well, nothing. Blank walls, empty rooms. In a cruel twist of fate, now is when the revolving door decides to stop, letting me walk out.

I hesitate. If I leave the door, will I ever be able to see these people again? Maybe if I stay, I can find out what happened to them, where they went. The choice seems to be out of my hands, though, as something (or someone, I don't know) pushes me out, and the revolving door seals shut.

In exiting the door, I return home, only this home is not the same as it was before. All around me, on the walls, in the trees, drifting through the air, I see and hear echoes of the past few months spent in the door. Tamzen’s infectious laughter ricochets off the granite countertop, melding with Gaby’s sound effects, James’ adoration for french onomatopoeia, Mollie's unconscious humming of the song she listened to last, my host parents’ saying, “Bah…” in the most french way possible, EV’s squeals when she sees a baby, and so, so many others. I may no longer be in the door, or rather, to break the fourth wall a bit, in France, but the people I met there will stick with me, their influences forever changing my perspective and reflecting off the walls of my home town.

Thank you to my teachers, host family, and friends. Thank you, SYA. You've forever changed the way I see the world. 

  • Campus Reporters
  • SYA France
Ha Sido un Placer

In her final blog, Camus Reporter Meredith M. reflects on the letter she wrote to herself at the beginning of her year abroad.

The Revolving Door

In her final blog, Campus reporter Isabelle M. describes her year abroad in France as a revolving door.

Time Travel

Melinda D. reflects on her final weeks abroad and how she and her peers have changed at SYA Spain.

Arrivederci Roma

Campus reporter Camila F. writes about saying goodbye to Rome and shares the music that defined her year abroad.

Thank You

Julia A. expresses her gratitude to her host family, friends, and parents for her time at SYA France.