A year of lessons

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A lot can happen in a year, or in our case, six months. It’s hard to know where to begin, so how about the beginning?

When we set out to try living in Paris, we jumped head-first into it. The thing you should know about Gui and me is that we’re not really planners, we’re doers. I’ve been this way as long as I can remember, and Gui’s been a willing participant since we started our adventure together in 2006. There’s nothing I love and crave more than change, which is all good and well when you’re a young spring chicken - or a couple of young chickens - but, keeping up that same lifestyle when there’s a little one in the mix makes for a constant struggle of emotions - stay or go, settle or set-out. 

So, when we made the decision to move to Paris, it was done as it always had been done: on a whim. We gave ourselves two months, which was pushed back to five months and eventually happened seven months later. We only had one thing sorted out when we moved and that was Avienne’s school. We figured everything else would fall into place, and for the most part, it did. Gui started a job two months after he arrived, I was able to set up my business fairly easily, and Avienne was absolutely thriving at and loving her school. The problem? We couldn’t find a decent place to live. 

It’s a well-known fact that you’re more likely to become the French president than find and qualify for a nice apartment in Paris.  Somehow, though, after an exhausting and demoralizing search, we finally found a great place through a friend of a friend. But, by the time we got news of the place, we had been living in Paris for six months, previewing our future life in the city. What did that future life look like? It was a daily struggle of train, bus and car commutes across town to work and school; living with someone else's furniture from year to year; long waits and arguments at the prefecture for visa renewals; paperwork wars and exorbitant taxes for my small, growing business; smaller paychecks and less savings; double strollers up and down metro stairs in between long work days and doctor’s visits. It was also longer vacations to closer destinations; history lessons for a curious girl on weekend walks to the park; and, well, the city life I so madly want to live. 

It never occurred to us before we moved that we could be making a mistake, and I don’t think anything but living through it could have prepared us for the immediate struggle we were facing as a growing family there. When it came down to it, we were not realistic in thinking life would be just as it had been when we first lived in Paris. There is just so much more to consider now with Avienne in the picture and with our hopes to add to our family in the near future. 

Gui had a standing offer to return to his former job in Austin, so during our two week road trip through France and Italy, we made the difficult and emotional decision to go back to Texas. Hoping not to waste anymore time, we hightailed it out of France as soon as we could get our goodbyes in and organize the move. 

Here are the lessons I learned from all of this: First, planning is a good thing - especially when it comes to moving countries. Also, have a backup plan. We didn’t have one spelled out, but man, are we glad we had the option to change our minds. And finally, toddlers are so resilient. Avienne came away from this with a wonderful grasp of the French language and some incomparable cultural lessons learned. Not to mention, she bonded on a whole new level with family and forged new friendships along the way. 

In the end, we feel really lucky to have lived this year how we did. The places we went, the things we learned, the people we bonded with - it was an expensive experience, but one that was worth every centime spent. 

A few of my favorite moments from August . . .


Justin said...

And we are so happy to have you back. Good on you for taking a chance. Now let's start working on a visit from us to Texas!

Anonymous said...

there's never a bad decision, and you can take lot of good things from these months. living in paris isn't easy but it's great at the same time, france's a beautiful country, my parents in law had a vacation house close to paris and i really loved to spend my holidays there...

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