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No. 364: Family and Friends

It is our last night in Paris.

It has been a day of lasts. Last croissant, last picnic at the Champ de Mars, last walk along the Seine, last steak and frites, last sparkling tower and last goodbyes. I didn’t think I would be so completely gutted turning the light off for the last time in our apartment, but I was. Locking the door behind us really seemed like the end of an era.

But a great era it was.

Our last five years have been remarkable and memorable both in France and in the U.S. From our first topsy-turvy move to la belle France in 2009 to moving back to Colorado to be with my mom in the last 2 years of her life, to watching Kitcat learn to re-walk and then dance again after her tumor was removed, to our second move to France in 2012, and two more years of highs and lows in the City of Light.

In these last years, Button changed schools four times in five years; Kitcat changed universities twice. Both girls learned to speak a second language fluently, expanded their worldview and truly become transnational citizens. Somehow they have managed to maintain their sense of American optimism, childlike hearts and love of the arts, despite the oppressive French school system. You two widgets inspire me and make our family better.

As for Superman, he did the impossible. He worked his derrière off to bring us to France not once, but twice. Although Paris was never a natural fit for him, he did his best to stay sane in a stressful job in a stressful city with some difficult global characters, all in a foreign language. Wow. That man loves me, this I know.

And me? Well I tried to hold the family together in two alien countries (reverse culture shock, it ain’t easy…), raise good kids, restart my professional life, learn a language and reinvent myself in this complicated and crazy country.

And in the end, France is where I found myself again after so many years of floundering. France is where I relearned to take risks and be more happy with who I am. France is where I finally found my footing and learned not just to stroll, but to stride.

It is possible that this personal transformation could have occurred in a different place at a different time, but I do think it has a lot to do with geography (the heart of Europe), beauty, and the sense of adventure this insular culture inspires, as well as the kind of people that those three things attract. I was very lucky to find myself as a parent at a bilingual school filled with amazing and dynamic women with huge hearts ready for any sort of madcap idea or caper. To all of you who welcomed me with open arms and nurtured and celebrated with me, who were eager to explore this amazing city and country together, who laughed so easily and were so generous with their time and wisdom, and who inspired me with their smarts, hard work, bravery and own reinventions, thank you for being part of my journey and for letting me ride along on yours.

You know who you are et je vous embrasse.

Missing you already, but knowing I will see you again soon, un grand merci to you all…thanks for helping me find my feet in France.

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20 Comments Post a comment
  1. That is a piece of writing impossible not to like nay love … What a family, what a gal – go you🙂

    August 31, 2014
    • And, what a very kind comment. Thank you for being such a faithful reader…stay tuned for more from me. After 48 hours in the US my head is spinning…so many contrast in the “land of the free and the home of the brave”!

      September 2, 2014
  2. Jennifer Riccio #

    Beautiful sentiments…. so much I have lost track of!

    August 31, 2014
  3. Melinda Lusmore #

    Amen!

    August 31, 2014
  4. What an inspirational post Nancy! Bon voyage and many good wishes for your future adventures (which hopefully you’ll be blogging about!). I am just about to go to our younger daughter’s farewell party (she leaves for London on Wednesday night ) so it’s quite a poignant day for me and your post has really touched a chord. Merci beaucoup!🙂

    August 31, 2014
    • Thank you for the good wishes. Still recovering from jet lag and am overwhelmed by many, many things stateside…lots of fodder for a new blog, me thinks. I hope your farewell to your daughter went well. Best to you!

      September 2, 2014
  5. Quite the farewell post….can only hope it’s au revoir and not goodbye! Wishing you ‘bon vent’ wherever you may travel!🙂

    August 31, 2014
    • Thanks for the well wishes. I already miss being in France after 48-hours in the States…a lot. Sorting out internet at the moment, and hope to be back online soon. Meanwhile, I will have to live vicariously through you.

      September 2, 2014
  6. Sophie B #

    Will miss you😦 All the best in your new life and let’s keep in touch. Love Sophie B

    August 31, 2014
  7. In Hemingway’s words, Paris is “A Moveable Feast.” You and your family will take your memories and what you’ve learned everywhere you go from now on. What a wonderful gift you and your husband have given to each other and to your family. Thanks for sharing. I’ll be thinking of you from my home in Steamboat Springs. Colorado has its own charms as a home and a base for travels!

    August 31, 2014
    • Hello. Thank you for the nice comment. Yes, Paris is a moveable feast, but I already miss her terribly. Trying to keep my chin up as we all recover from jet lag and work through culture shock. Colorado is a beautiful place to be though, I agree.🙂

      September 2, 2014
  8. Debra #

    I was very moved by this lovely post. Thank you.

    August 31, 2014
  9. Your stride will find another good and beautiful place… looking forward to taking a few strides with you again! You can speak of the country in which you have found your feet as we move forward in a country that will welcome you and your soul(s). 🙂

    August 31, 2014
  10. Well wishes to you and your family! I can’t imagine leaving Paris after living here for a year. Like yourself, Paris is more than a city to me. I hope you’ll write about your readjustment to life in Colorado🙂

    September 2, 2014
    • Thank you for the sweet comment and for understanding what it is like to be under Paris’ spell. It is more than a city, n’est pas? Stay tuned to this space for the next step in this adventure.🙂

      September 2, 2014

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