A Breakthrough

My husband and I went to the Prefecture today, which is where you do all kinds of super-official and scary French paperwork, and…

we have an appointment to turn in paperwork for my carte de sejour on January 8!!! We will have to get a lot of various papers together and get my birth certificate translated, etc. My husband is considered “actif” now that he has auto-entrepreneur status, but he’ll have to show his revenue in France. He’s going to do French to English translation and various other services. I’ll probably do some tutoring, etc, to help with the revenue.

But this means that I’m on my way (officially) to getting my carte de sejour (rough equivalent to a residency card or a green card) and being able to qualify for French work contracts. The woman confirmed that I can’t leave the country before I have my carte or some other visa, but I’m good with that. And she was all “sorry, that’s the earliest we have” about the January appointment, but I didn’t mind at all! I’m happy to have anything, and to have a few more steps toward official resident status and exiting the state of limbo that I’ve been in for three months.

I made a ballsy move yesterday: I made reservations for a hotel for four nights and for train tickets to Strasbourg for Christmas! 😀 It is supposed to have the best Christmas markets in France (which makes sense as they once belonged to Germany, who basically invented widely-practiced Christmas traditions). We will be there from December 22-26, heading down to Auvergne to stay with my friend Sonja until a day or two before New Year’s Eve.

We really wanted to do something special for Christmas since we are far away from our families right now. Originally, we were hoping for Germany, but thankfully, France has many great places to visit (it ain’t #1 in the world for tourism for nothin’!)  It won’t be cheap, but I have faith that we will earn more than enough money to cover the cost of the trip (and then some).

I was feeling quite frustrated, stuck, and down recently. It’s so hard for me to get out of our apartment sometimes, and I feel isolated and reclusive. I feel like things should be moving a lot faster and that I should be able to go out and be social, etc, etc. I’ve blamed the situation with the carte de sejour and not being able to look for “real” work, but I know that I could still go out and get small jobs for cash like baby sitting or English tutoring, or just go out and pursue my hobbies. I feel a lot of pressure about money right now, though. I feel like everything I want to do costs money, and so I shouldn’t do it. I should only do things that are free. I’m working on letting go of my fear that there isn’t or won’t be enough and instead being thankful for all that I have. We have more than we need, and we have enough to support ourselves and to live here. My husband and I will find jobs.

And honestly, we’re starting over, not completely from scratch since we are not venturing into new fields for which we would need another X number of years of training, or a different degree. But our social lives, jobs, church community, etc have all dissolved or have been radically altered by our move here.

The challenge is worth it, and so are the sacrifices we’ve made. Many people who recreate their lives do so in response to some great tragedy or upheaval. My husband and I have been blessed with a passion for France and sensitivities that are more in alignment with the European way of life. We get to shed our skin and begin anew. We’re toddlers again, and we’ve got to master walking before we can run. And sometimes, we don’t go anywhere, but we still strengthen our muscles.

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