We’re nearly at the end game now: My husband and I have told our bosses that we will not be renewing our contracts. He has sent his letter of resignation, and I am turning mine in tomorrow; only five weeks remain. And yet I’m as afraid as I am hopeful. Can we escape the inertia of the lives we’ve always led as we approach critical mass?
I feel weighted down by the seriousness of the decision, the fear of the unknown, the niggling questions and details that I’m afraid could hold us back. What if my father-in-law has cancer? What if the payment won’t go through on my husband’s British passport, forcing us to restart the paperwork process? The strange fact is, I feel nearly as much trepidation of going as I do of staying. It’s like this tug of war waged between the momentum of life as I know it and the pull of the life I’ve hoped I could lead.
France is not paradise. I know that it has its problems and drawbacks, but I have felt for a long time that the French philosophy was more in line with my own. Le travail n’est pas la vie or “Work is not life,” has come into my mind over and over since I became a (disillusioned) working adult. The fact is that I want to live in a society that works together as a community instead of being continually at odds a league of individuals, and I just plain don’t like capitalism. There, I said it. However, I do like the American proclivity to think outside the box, honor individual choice, and to root for the underdog. On the other hand, my concern for the environment, desire to be exposed to other nations, and my love of culture, art, and cuisine pull me firmly in the European direction. Then there is the history: You’re absolutely surrounded by it in France. You see human achievement at every turn and can even live in an apartment building that was constructed in the 15th century, the same century in which the western world established the existence of my continent.
The French are a courageous people. In 1789, they chose to pull their society up by the roots and change everything, to start from scratch. And they keep revising their government and rewriting their constitution as needed. The people use their voice in protest, petition, strike, and sometimes riot to express their discontent, and I’ve had some of the most stimulating, intelligent conversations with average citizens whose lively minds, sharp tongues, and quick senses of humor remind me that even speaking to one another is an art form.
Come what may, I want to remember the preciousness of each moment. With my mind and spirit unfettered by culture or time, I choose to explore the world and life with my husband. We’re being called to a new home. I feel that France is welcoming us with open arms even if America is holding on for one last embrace.