Moving to France almost 2 years ago – time goes where…? – was an exhilarating transition in terms of well, France, changing countries and languages, a new relationship with an old love and the many great unknowns. It was also a really big step for me, even at the outset as I’m a family girl. Family as in center of gravity and feeling most myself. So, leaving my unit for the big unknowns came with some real fears and discomforts – even as a 28 year old.
There have been many ups and downs and surprise new directions since making this leap but one thing that has made just about everything easier is Paul’s family in Normandy. His parents live about 2 hours from Paris via a clunky, old and romantic train. We seem to always hit sunset hour over the fields as we blast (or sometimes crawl) through the countryside. We get off in a medieval little town called Vire in the middle of Calvados. Vire’s specialties include andouille, cream, Calvados, of course, (a few jugs of which were discovered from wartime hidden in a house of Paul’s grandmother after she passed) and camembert…
Paul’s dad picks us up from the train station and sometimes his Italian grandmother, too and we drive 30 minutes down the tiniest winding dark roads (at high, high speed) and catch the tail feathers of owls swooping beyond our headlights as we careen into a tinier town that is just a turn in the road, really: a church, cemetary and a few old stone houses – including the gate of Pauls’ parents’ beautiful home.
Even when I was a new-new girlfriend, and couldn’t speak a bit of French, the family was welcoming and lovely with me. Coming up here to their 18th century home and swimming in the heated pool that looks out over fields of cows feels not quite like home, but not not like home, either. I’m from a farming peninsula, my mum cooks seafood and we eat together in a real sit down fashion, too, talking about politics. And if I were home right now, we would be discussing the terrifying rise of certain politicians, just as I do here with this family.
It’s been 8 months since I’ve seen my family or the Pacific Northwest and my heart hurts missing them, that, those things. But I’m a lucky transplant to have a home away from home, and a house away from the city that feels like this.