I realize this blog is titled “A Year in Paris,” but I need to clarify something. I lied. I am not spending a year in Paris. I am spending a year in the French countryside and approximately 40 weekends in Paris. Always being honest when writing my blog, I knew I could not continue this lie anymore. In my defense, the blog was titled before I knew what I got myself into.
So now that the tittle issue is all cleared up, let me try and explain my last few months… I have continued to write. Many of the entries are things I wrote at the time–just as if I had kept my blog. Some things that were written days, weeks, or months apart might be combined because they are on the same subject. Here you go….
Before Sian and Nic moved to London, they had bought this house in Vaux and lived in it when Victor was a baby. I could not wait to see it. I did love Chambourcy but it never felt like mine. I was always anticipating the next move. Vaux-sur-Seine.
Vaux is the gorgeous little village right on the Seine River. I have never lived in a place so green and beautiful. I feel as if I was plopped into some fairy tale taking place in the French countryside. Brick houses with magnificent gardens line the streets, each beautiful in their own way. The village centre is much like any typical Parisian suburb: boulangerie, poste, hairdresser, pharmacy, florist, two schools, a library, a church, a chateau, and a recreation center—you know, the usual.
The first day we arrived in Vaux, it was just Sian, the kids, and I. My room was empty except the pile of things I had managed to bring over the day before. There is some sort of excitement in moving. I love the smell of new houses and the simplicity of the empty rooms. Eventually, Nic brought over my mattress so I had somewhere to sleep. That night, I pushed into the corner and thought about what was to come. I was finally in Vaux, finally in my room.
The next day was busy. The boys started school and the movers and the furniture were due to arrive. It was strange to think of not being with Edgar and Victor for the whole day but I was anxious to get settled in my new room. I had spent about entertaining the boys for 13 hours a day. From this point on, I would only have them a few hours a day.
Sian had picked out a matching chest of drawers for me and was going to give me their old desk. I was going to have proper furniture! I sat there watching the movers slowly piece together my room: first the bed frame, then my new dresser, then a bubble-wrapped TV, and eventually my desk. I couldn’t wait to make the room mine and unpack my stuff.
During the chaos of the move, we had been invited over for lunch by the exceptionally friendly neighbors, Danielle and Jean-Claude. It was such a beautiful day. One of those days that you just think to yourself how lucky you are. The sun shining and everything in Vaux looked magnificent. Danielle and Jean-Claude are probably the cutest older French couple I have ever seen. Jean-Claude is so animated and funny that not knowing French doesn’t really matter when you are with him. They both know a bit of English, but for the most part, when we are with them everyone speaks French. For lunch, they prepared a typical French feast with all the courses. One thing you must know… is the French love their meals. It is a time to get together and not only enjoy the food, but also each other’s company. We started off with bread and homemade pâté. Then moved on to tomatoes and olives in a vinagrette. For the main course, we had ossobucco. It was incredible. Before now, I had not tried veal. I always had a morality issue with it. But I made the mistake of trying it without knowing what it was. The taste is phenomenal. After the incredible first experience with veal, I moved on to dessert. We had ice cream with these pears that had been soaked in wine. So delish. Somewhere between the veal and my second glass of wine I realized what was happening—I was in France, in the French countryside, eating a meal with wonderful French people. I was here. I made it. I have to say that this was one of my happiest moments. I was officially in love with Danielle, Jean-Claude, and Vaux.
The next few days in Vaux are a blur. I spent time between watching the kids, helping out Sian, and organizing my room. By now, Sian and I have become good friends. I really enjoy her company. For some reason, although this is my job, I feel like this is my extended family. I love my boys more than anything and Nic and Sian have become dear friends of mine. Having these days with Sian having time off meant a lot to me. I really got to know her. We went shopping for things for the new house and helped each other with the kids. I still count my blessings on how fortunate I was to find such an incredible family.
I have been in Vaux for almost 3 weeks now. Still no Internet or cable. No Internet. I had no idea how much I rely on the Internet. I seriously feel lost. For about the past week at least, I have been contemplating going to the library, but hesitant due to the ongoing language barrier. Today, I got the courage to go. Somewhat successful. Of course, the woman who worked there needed to tell me all these things in French and I have to reply in the most ignorant way possible “je parlez par Francais.” I cannot wait to learn French. I am beginning to understand more and more but I hate not being able to communicate. Anyways, I was able to use the computer. However, they had four with one in use. Of course, the French way of making things difficult, I was only able to use the one in use. So I meandered around the French books and waited. Finally I got to use it and did little in accomplishing all I wanted to before the closed.
Tomorrow marks the day of my 3-month anniversary of being in France. I cannot believe that it has been that long. I have survived. And have no intention on leaving. It is incredible how much your life can change in such a short period of time. My world has been picked up and turned upside down and for some reason that’s normal to me now. 75 percent of my week is dedicated to thinking about the wellness of other people’s lives. Everything I do is around these two little people that consume my week. The other 25 percent involves the greatest times of my life. I live for the weekends. Life in Vaux has been really tough for me. I have always been very social. I went from living in my sorority house with 35 women to living in the French countryside completely isolated. With no car, limited public transportation, and no internet, I am basically on my own. My closest friend here, Robin, is only about 15-20 minutes away from me and it is more impossible to go see her than to have the option of getting into Paris. It blows my mind. If I had the option to see her during the week, I think my whole attitude would change. Fortunately, we both have unlimited text so we get to rant and rave about screaming ninos constantly, which definitely helps.
Overall, I am completely satisfied with my decision. No, Vaux was not the idea I had for myself for this year. Although it has been tough, I have learned. That is why I came here–to grow, to experience. I am doing incredible things and meeting incredible people. I have the opportunity to travel. Whenever I begin to complain about my life in the sticks, I remember why I am here and what I can do. I am taking it day by day. Even the bad times can’t change how happy I am to be France and how proud of myself I am for doing this.