We'd been planning this move, moreover this life, for years; talking, dreaming, negotiating and hoping. The move to Ireland six years ago was a stepping stone to European life--a way to land softly in a country with a shared language, lifestyle and for me, genetic history. It was so much more than what we expected in many ways and changed us all irrevocably. I love Ireland, my Irish friends, and our time there more than I can say.
|Irish send off|
The night ferry between England and France eased us into the way of things to come. There was soft music, French, French everywhere, pain au chocolat and chocolat chaud for breakfast in the little ferry cabin and quiet, calm from our French fellow travellers.
|Versailles in February|
I remember wanting to take it all in, to really see the place where my new life was going to be. And as I looked at the area around Nimes and Sommieres I was reminded of the Texas Hill Country and the area around our hometown of Austin. There are the same scrub oak trees, white limestone hills, and big blue sky but there are also rows and rows of grapevines, olive trees and the occasional nuclear power plant emitting puffs of steam.
The differences in my family as a whole and as individuals through this year are immeasurable. For us, this has turned out to be better than the dream we nurtured for so long and even with the challenges, perhaps because of them, we feel like we've done the right thing.
The other night I went to a meeting of Anglophones living in France and it was wonderful to speak English freely with other adults--to have a complex point to explain and to be able to do so without stammering, gesturing and butchering French to get that point across. Everyone else seemed to feel the same way judging from the noise level in the bar.
In one of my conversations we were talking about how the life abroad becomes addictive. How it can be hard to know when or if to go back home and indeed where 'home' is. I've said many times that home for us is where we five are and this continues to be true. And the addictive kernel is found in the everyday challenges and small victories as well as in the longing for people and past conveniences, flavors and customs.
I am eternally naive and optimistic. And that's ok with me. I look forward to this second French year with a tingle of excitement. I am ready for the changes of spring like the budding vines, fresh asparagus, longer days and fresh air. And then the summer of visitors, sun, beach, berries and sausages and lazy wine afternoons on the terrace with friends.
I hope you've enjoyed the year with me and that you'll stay with me for what's next. I love writing this blog because it connects me to all of you. Life abroad before this connective technology would be an entirely different prospect. I'm happy I'm not alone.
|the first of many terrace lunches|
When I Went Crazy for An Egg
The New Neighbor Monsieur Coq
House Hunting Blues
Do NOT Speak French to Your Small Children
Falling In Love with Language