Monday, February 22, 2010

The Countdown - 4 months, 7 days

I've always had a thing for France. OK: by "thing," I mean "obsession," and by always, I mean since Mademoiselle Onesto's high school French IA class way back in the last millennium.

This thing/obsession/love affair with France grew between the daily chants of "je suis, tu es, il est, elle est nous sommes, vous etes, ils sont, elles sont" and those loud, silly Gallic pop song sing-alongs in the labo. It probably reached its climax at one of our class's Friday-night French-themed parties, where Anthony, LeeAnne and the rest of our geeky gang of would-be world travellers expressed our sophomore sophistication over decidedly non-vegan baguette-and-brie hors d'oeuvres, brave nibbles of garlicky escargots, and sips of de-alcoholized sparkling wine. It all felt very grown up, and a world away from the cowboys-and-jocks scene at NUHS.

I didn't get to France until I was in my twenties, but once I arrived I immediately understood what Gertrude Stein meant when she said "America is my country, but Paris is my hometown." Actually, I never really identified with the "America is my country" part, but Paris definitely feels like my idealized version of what a hometown could be.

For one wonderful year, from May 2004 to May 2005, Paris was my hometown. I hadn't planned on moving there necessarily, but a chance encounter in a crosswalk with a car going 40 MPH left me temporarily handicapped and forced the abandonment of a long-anticipated 6-month bike tour from Morocco to Finland. (I finally got to do an abbreviated version of this trip last June. More on that later.) Instead of a bicycling, I limped. But at least I limped someplace interesting. Now, I'm ready to go "home" for good.

It's a long process. Our pre-departure to-do list looks something like this:
  • Renew Passport - done
  • Get photos taken for visa application - doing tonight
  • Apply for Compétences et Talents visa - in progress
  • Finalize business plan for visa application - in progress
  • Sell car - done!
  • Decide what to do with our rent-controlled apartment - agonizing!
  • Decide what to do with our furniture and other household belongings - storage or sell?
  • Vaccinate Fanny and get her travel documents in order - to do
  • Find a place to live in Paris - rent or buy? where to stay when we first arrive? - to be determined
  • Buy plane tickets - to do
I'm sure there are other things I'm forgetting, but (thankfully) I've got four months to work it out.


  1. Yay!! This is all so exciting! I can't wait to hear more about the particulars of your trip. How long is the visa valid? Is this a temporary, permanent, or not sure kind of move? Bonne chance!!

  2. Merci, Mademoiselle M! Visa is valid for 3 years, and renewable for another 3 after that; The idea is that one returns home with something that will then benefit American society (or maybe franco-american cultural connections; i'm not completely clear on that). But! After 5 years of established residency, you're basically "in," and that's what I'm hoping for.


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