Home is Being with the People I Love — Marc-Antoine Jarry
NAME Marc-Antoine Jarry
ROLE Executive Planning Director at TBWA\Chiat\Day
BIRTH CITY Paris
CITIES LIVED IN Paris, Los Angeles, New York
Why did you move to New York?
I first moved to Los Angeles in 2014 as I got an exciting job offer. Then my former creative partner joined TBWA Worldwide in New York, and he asked me “Why don't you join me?” and I said, “Yes!” So that's how it basically worked out. I had been in my previous agency for 15 years. It’s good to change, it's good to expose oneself to new challenges, feel less comfortable, and reinvent oneself a little bit. I always wanted to work and live abroad and when the opportunity came I jumped on it. It was work that got me to the US.
Was it challenging for you to move to LA?
I think you always underestimate the change and you always underestimate the culture shock. I hadn't lived in LA before so it was a completely unknown experience, and I was not sure of what to expect. I think a lot of the changes like getting used to the system, getting used to everyday things like driving, shopping, etc. was a bigger change than I thought.
I was lucky because Sébastien, my husband, joined me. We moved together so even if the changes were big at least we experienced them together. For me, home is being with the people I love.
And then the second part was that, we were very lucky to quickly make a lot of friends in Los Angeles. We could recreate ‘our’ circle of friends, a community, a feeling of home there, which we have kept. We are still very much in touch with each other all the time, and we visit each other regularly. It was really random how we met people. It was people we knew from France, and the weirdest connections happened with time, nothing planned, but actually a lot of luck. And then when we moved to New York two years after, we had to start again.
Already being in the US for two years the experience of moving to New York was completely different. The shock wasn’t getting into a foreign country. It wasn’t even a shock really. The big difference is, New York is so completely different from Los Angeles. A majority of our friends in Los Angeles were more locals and American people. But the funny thing is, we became friends with a lot of French people in New York, because there are a lot of French people here! We also met a few friends that we knew from before moving to the US so that was sort of also a bit helpful. What I liked about New York is that people are very easy to engage with. They talk easily and are very friendly. You can start a conversation anywhere and anytime. So that’s a great plus for New York. You never know where it's going to go but at least you can start it.
What gave you a feeling of home in New York?
My husband for sure, and then our cat, Horace. Sébastien and I have been together for 20 years. We met at the university and known each other for 27 years. The life we have created for us is home to me.
And then the ability to have friends around you and meet new people. It makes such a huge difference. I think if you move abroad it's not easy to make new acquaintances, meet new people for a very simple reason that people already have their life; they have partners and they have a family. So, with time the desire, the need or the opportunity to meet new people declines naturally and you no longer need it. You have your own circle and it’s harder to get in touch with people.
Do you think things would have been different if you didn't have Sébastien with you?
Yes, I think it would have been tougher. When you’re alone it takes a lot more energy and will to meet new people. It all depends on you — to make an effort all by yourself. Because we were together, we motivated each other and knew when the other was not as happy or had a little bit of a downtime, and helped to make it better.
One thing that I think it is probably is that the first step is always the toughest. The idea of getting out of your comfort zone, going to a bar, or engaging in any kind of activity so that you can meet new people with the same interest takes a lot of energy. You have to force yourself not to be shy and introduce yourself.
The reality is, Sébastien and I walked downstairs, two doors away from here to a French restaurant and bar, Pardon my French, and it happened for us. We together always try to find a social place like a coffee shop, or a bar or a restaurant where we can go regularly, because if you become a regular it's easier to meet people.
We’ve always done that even in Paris where we went regularly to a cafe or a bar or a place where we felt like this is our joint. This is our place.
Also, our neighborhood (East Village) is very nice. It's a very friendly neighborhood that I really appreciate and like. Everybody knows each other. There's a tattoo shop downstairs and we know the guy. We know the neighbors. The people from the deli from across the street know us. It’s a very tight community. I don't know about all the other different neighborhoods in Manhattan, but I think this neighborhood has something special about it. It's a friendly neighborhood, at least a friendly block!
What kind of a home did you live in while growing up?
I still remember the first flat that I was born in (face lights up). I remember the balcony where I used to paint when I was two or three years old. For some reason, I remember the name of the street, the full address — 2 Quebec Street! Part of my family still lives there and in the same city, so whenever I have the opportunity to go back to France, I try to visit them for sure — my sister and my mother.
Is there anything special that you’ve carried from Paris?
There are a lot of them. I got some of my furniture with me; we came with a lot of books and the artworks. That’s the other part that I feel makes you feel a connection to new place is — I carry a lot of my stuff. I think some of these books have been there forever. But also the oldest books that I owned I gave them to friends and family when we moved to the US because there were so many. But actually the one that I carried until then, which was probably for the longest was a children's book by Lewis Carroll, and it's called Through the Looking-glass. It's the second part of Alice in Wonderland and I love it. I love that edition because it had all the engravings from Tenniel, who was one of the illustrators that did a lot of work at the same time as Lewis Carroll. It had a lot of notes from the translator trying to explain the choices that he made to turn all the puns and the wit, and the poetry and sense of humor of Lewis Carroll understandable in French. I have a lovely memory of that book but I gave it away when I was leaving France to a friend’s daughter so that she could enjoy it as well.
Why did you choose this loft when you moved to New York?
We’ve always lived in open spaces and I wanted to have an apartment with open spaces. When we first met the owner of the loft, we shared a lot of common interest with him in terms of art, photography and history so that’s how we got the place. Also, I needed some walls for the artwork that we collect; we have a lot of them, haha! Apart from that, these sculptures hanging on the wall needed to go up. They are from a friend who is a sculptor. We got them as a wedding gift so it's a very special piece.
What do you do to make yourself comfortable?
Sometimes when I sit down, I put on some music and I read. I love reading so that's the best thing that I can do here in my living room — sitting on the couch and reading. That's the best moment of the day for me.
How do you feel about the current situation in Paris and the global environment these days?
I think all around the world there are a lot of people who are feeling rejected, and dejected, and can no longer trust institutions. It’s important to listen to them because if you don’t listen to them and don’t take them into account, things might get worse. Because the reality is — people don’t like to feel rejected. In France what you see around the riots is a lot of people that feel they are not listened to, not taken into account, and forgotten. So I think everyone individually as well as many of the political leaders of the society need to shift their mindset a little bit, and not think everyone is like them. They need to listen to what they’re saying. Personally, I may not agree with a lot of them but I try to listen.