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.