It’s coming up to a year in France and it wasn’t all Peter Mayle like.

( photo by Brent Curtis )

I’ve never moved out of country before. For some, this is no big deal. For me, it’s a new adventure. The brie is always more ripe on the other side. You have grand ideas and hopes and new plans for your life “over there.” It’ll be different. It’ll be better. It’ll be fun and exciting. Then, when you get there you see what it’s really like. I can’t believe it’s been a year. When we headed out to France we said we’d rent for a year and figure out where to buy a house. So far, we’re still renting and not signed on a house. Though we’re excited about a house that will suit us to a tee. Nothing is set yet, but if it all works out, we can close this move-to-France chapter and begin our life as farmers.

But what the hell did I expect for a year in France and what actually happened? The biggest shortcoming I see is my French. You’d think that living a year in France would improve your French. Well let me say right here and now, if you have a Visa card, you do not need to learn French to live in France. My comprehension is impressive, buy my recall is atrocious. My lack of language is not mirrored my lack of motivation. I want to speak French. I want to speak French well. I hope to woo people with my cute outfits and fancy French so that they will buy my meat and proudly serve it in their restaurant. And so, I’ve taken a more guerilla approach to my studies because whatever it was I was doing before was not working. In the last two weeks, my approach has been working.

What else … I thought a year in France would be a long time. It’s not. I can’t imagine uprooting my family and moving them out here for only a year. If I moved back today, I’d spend most of my time recreating the things I love about France into my everyday life. This poses a huge problem living in America, as Americans are work-aholics. You see this most clearly in their inability to sit the fuck down for a minute and drink a coffee. In Southwest France, there are no to-go cups. No one walks around with a latte in hand on the way to work. They sit at the bar and knock back an espresso if in a hurry; otherwise they sit down at a table and enjoy a coffee. It doesn’t take long. In fact, I know I’ve waited in line in America for my to-go latte longer than it took me to sit down and have an espresso here in France. I do love America, but I wish they would take a minute to have a good lunch or drink a coffee. This spoken as a former latte lugging, commuting yuppie with too much pointless unread email who has decided to step into the 00’s and live life.

The internets reduce isolation. I’m connected to everyone. I’m sure that but a few years ago, I would be writing different words about my experience. The internet has had a HUGE impact on my feeling great about the big move. I talk weekly face to face(ish) with my Mom on Skype. I can read that a cat was stuck up a tree or that a strong wind is headed to Seattle in the morning headlines. Or that Riri wore (or dare I say whore) a crazy outfit to the Grammys. I can watch video of my friend’s dance performance. In some ways, being out here is no different than living in Seattle (except you can buy foie gras). I have a few friends that believe this is all a ruse. I’m still in Seattle, living in my crazy craftsman house pretending that I’ve actually taken the family to France. But I have. I did move. And everyday as I drive the winding road to e.leclerc. I think to myself, “holy shit. I love it here!” No joke. But please read that with “holy shit. I love it here” accompanied by Fun Radio playing Lady Gaga’s latest Poker Face moment. France is okay. I think I’ll stay some more.

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2 thoughts on “It’s coming up to a year in France and it wasn’t all Peter Mayle like.

  1. Paul Blaum February 6, 2010 / 11:02 pm

    What a great, insightful blog, Jean. I want to keep reading. I think I don’t not like you anymore.

  2. Lyn McIntosh-Sherwood February 7, 2010 / 2:38 pm

    Loved your post. We have been in our little part of France two years as of last October and still loving it. Our French is improving (although we are not studying as we should be). Mine is better but that’s because I had two years in HS (back when they circled the wagons!) and my adopted Grandfather (who I lived with) spoke French at home. However, after he passed away when I was 27 I didn’t speak or read it until I was 51 and on our first trip to Europe. We’ve had more wonderful experiences here, and they just keep on coming. Friday we met a elderly lady (at La Mairie’s office after her Granddaughter had shown us how to get to a Tabac shop so we could buy the stamps to renew our TDS’) and she told us that she was here when the Americans liberated our city, Brou. General Patton (my Uncle was one of his interpreters) actually came down the very street we live on. I thanked her for the fact that they have a memorial (at the end of our street) and they have a ceremony every year to honor the Americans. She said, “No THANK YOU!” and then she tapped her heart and said, “Le coeur souvenirs.” Well, everyone there was in tears and I leaned over and gave her bisous and she just held me. What a moment! Last year I even gave a speech for the memorial! So, needless to say we ain’t going anywhere else! Staying here until our toes curl up! Also looking for a house to buy but haven’t found the right thing thus far. We have a three year lease with first right of refusal if the owners want to sell. Crossing our fingers they’ll be reasonable on the price but doubt it. They think we are “rich Americans.” NOT!

    Bon courage et bon chance!

    Lyn McIntosh-Sherwood
    Brou, Department 28, Eure-et-Loir

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