Friday, April 15, 2011

The Last Fill in the Blank

I hate it that even though we won't be leaving Paris until the beginning of July, the "lasts" are already coming fast furious -- the last time at my gym (because I'm too cheap to pay the exorbitant short term membership rate now that my normal subscription has expired), my last trip with the French ladies to their favorite chateaux, my last French lesson.  Some of these are not so definitive.  Was that the last shopping trip to Tang Freres?  The last time I'll stroll past Notre Dame?  Either way, each one of these experiences feels like a chink in my protective Paris armor.

Of course there's nothing to do about it but keep on keeping on.  As much as I'm trying to cram in the expos, pastry shops, dinners out, and time with friends, I'm also trying my best to soak in the intangibles that are Paris, the little sights, sounds, and smells in the landscape that can't be bottled or pasted in my memory book.  Although truthfully with all the logistics of moving house and family, it's hard to stay completely in the present.   It's hard not to wonder about where I'll be emotionally and what I'll be doing next year at this time -- will Paris seem fuzzy and far away as if it never happened?  My kids have their own questions and fears about the future which I'm doing my best to allay without having any clear idea myself of what it will be like to be back.  I know we've all changed, them probably more than me given the share of their young lives that have passed in Paris.  But just how?  It's impossible to know now.

I have to keep reminding myself that we are already living on borrowed time -- this additional year was not anticipated when we made the leap across the pond in 2007.  In fact, had you asked me in 2005 whether we'd be living in Paris, I would have been surprised at the whole idea.  We are lucky to have the "lasts" because we had the "firsts," a whole boatload of experiences that we never dreamed of having.  Fortunately, there's still time left to make more memories before the last time I close our apartment door.

19 comments:

Brenna [fabuleuxdestin] said...

I'm leaving around the same time - and I am heartbroken. France will always be here for us! That's what I keep telling myself.

Jessica said...

Dear Anne,

This is a friendly follow-up to our first message to you (May 2010), to warmly invite you again to list your blog on our Expat Women Blog Directory (http://www.expatwomen.com/expatblog/). Blogs like yours are excellent sources of information for relocating expats, so we would love to include it with our other 1,700+ self-listed blogs.

We are also excited to let you know that we just re-launched our main website (http://www.expatwomen.com/), so please drop by and have a look if you are interested.

Many, many thanks and wishing you success abroad!

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Duchesse said...

Oh Anne, this whole idea of "lasts" makes me feel so sad! But then again, I like your outlook on the whole experience (and in general, which is why I keep coming back for more of your blog). I'm sad for you that this great adventure is coming to an end but I'm also glad you had the opportunity to live it in the first place and to truly appreciate it:)

Are you considering the purchase of a pied-à-terre in Paris in the not-so-distant future?

Mary Kay said...

Anne,

I feel for you, I really do. Having schlepped our kids all around the world I understand your concerns, for your children and for yourself. One of the best things that we did when we left a country that we really loved (Indonesia) was to go back there for vacation the following year. It was good to see all of our friends, etc., but it also helped us realize that our lives had moved on...as yours will. But for now, enjoy Paris. Have a decadent pastry and forget about future. It really will work out alright.

Anne said...

Duchesse and Mary Kay: We don't have the budget for a pied a terre and I'm a bit conflicted about making a return trip so I'm not making promises to anyone (myself or kids)about making one. All in good time.

TN said...

Anne,

Do you plan to go back to DC? We have family there and may end up there someday (hopefully at least 30 mins from my Parents...being 4000 miles away keeps the craziness away ;-)

Moving here was difficult on us and I don't want to think about going back yet (we are prb going to stay another 4-5 years).

Did you ship all of your belongings? Or just the necessities? We shipped everything as we have a local contract DH is French.

Good luck with the trip back and your LAST Spring and Summer in France it will be the BEST I'm sure of it. Already we have the warmest Spring in a long time!

Anne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anne said...

TN: Yes, we are DC bound. We still have our house which has been rented out the entire time we've been gone. My husband has a cushy expat package so his employer shipped all our household belongings plus we left a few things behind in storage (like the lawn mower!) Lots to organize, lots to do, lots to enjoy.

debbie in toronto said...

Oh Anne...I feel your pain....enjoy each day and just by sharing your feelings you might find it a bit easier...you have made slot of us happy just by sharing your journey....

Have a good weekend

Anonymous said...

Dear Anne-

I've been reading your blog everyday since sometime in 2009. I lived in Paris for 18 months in the mid-90s, and I still miss it EVERY SINGLE DAY, so I understand (to a certain extent) what you are feeling! Thank you for being my daily "window" into the city I love so much!! And don't worry- you will get back there (probably more often than you think). It won't ever be the same, but it is still Paris, and it will welcome you back, just like an old friend. :)

Good luck staying in the moment, and seriously, MERCI MILLE FOIS for letting us live vicariously through you. You have no idea how many dreary days you have gotten me through!!

-Jill from Dallas

Fatz said...

Oh, Anne! I've so enjoyed reading your blog every day and will miss it tremendously. Having only spent three days in Paris (yes, THREE), I've transported myself there through your blog. Thank you!

Good luck on your move back and I hope you continue to blog. You're so good at it!

Starman said...

It would be interesting to read what memories the kids will bring home. Perhaps you could get them each to write a short piece for posting here?

Anne said...

Starman: Clearly you don't have kids.

Anonymous said...

each day i think how i have enjoyed the journey with you...you will be missed dearly! as you have done thus far... ENJOY THAT WHICH REMAINS!

Anonymous said...

I think you will be lulled back into the ease of life in America in no time. Imagine: pharmacy, bakery, butcher, fish shop, bank,toy store, sporting goods store all in one!! I am not saying its better, just easier. Bonne chance et bonne route:)

Kate said...

Bonjour! I am just beginning my Paris ex-pat adventure in August and am very interested in joining a gym. I have seen Club Med around town and it seems to use the same exercise program my club here uses (Les Mills). What gym did you use and do you know anything about Club Med? Thanks!
Kate

Anne said...

Kate: I did belong to Club Med mostly because there is one convenient to me with hours that worked with my schedule. I used the cardio equipment, weights, and did some of the classes. But there are lots of gym options in Paris. Check out this post from my other site Posted in Paris for ideas: http://postedinparis.wordpress.com/2010/05/03/figuring-out-fitness-in-paris/

Amy said...

This made my heart clench. It was hard enough for me to leave Paris after each of my 3 visits...I can't imagine leaving her after living there.

Anonymous said...

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