04 June 2008

Leaving Home--to Go Back Home...

In a few short weeks, we make the long flight back to the United States. Am I glad to be returning to America? Yes and no. I'll be coming back home, but I'll also be leaving my other home. Being born French, having spent life here as a little girl, I will leave a part of myself here. There will be a thousand things about France I shall miss--most especially the language, hearing it all around me every day, seeing it on every sign. There’s no need to mention the wine, cheese, bread, pastry, yogurt (even the frozen dinners here are amazing; I’ve never tasted microwaveable meals so delicious). We’ve made some wonderful friends here we’ll miss, have met wonderful priests, attended a wonderful parish (which put the kibosh on the annoying stereotype that the faith is dying in France). I’ll miss the incredible churches and buildings, the beautiful architecture, the sheer living history of this and so many other cities, and, of course, all the holy sites we’ve been able to visit. Spiritually speaking, it’s been a rich year. It’s impossible to recount the graces with which we’ve been showered since our arrival.

I do look forward, though, to a more affordable lifestyle back in the Midwest. With the strengthening Euro and the declining dollar, our money goes fast here. And there are things I miss about the States: a good authentic Mexican taco; barbeque babyback ribs; Chinese take-out; even pizza. I know: how could I possibly crave such mundane fare when I’ve got boeuf bourgignon, oeufs de meurette, and hachi parmentier at my fingertips? Those are lovely, and we’ve enjoyed them all year; being deprived this long, though, of the fare one takes for granted Stateside has made us miss it. Politically speaking, I’ve been about a million miles removed. I’ve been keeping vague track of the American presidential race from a distance, though I can’t say I’m terribly excited about either candidate. Here in France, the press seems more interested in Sarkozy’s personal affairs than policy.

Coming here to live, we knew we’d have to make some sacrifices, and we’ve been perfectly happy to do it. We’ve had no car, so we’ve partaken of public transport everywhere; we have no oven, so everything has been cooked on a two-range stovetop with limited utensils; we’ve had no proper beds, and have instead slept on a canapé lit we bought at IKEA. And, because our apartment came unfurnished, we had to supply the rest ourselves; with limited funds, that meant a very spare (but spacious) apartment for the year, a very small refrigerator that required frequent trips to the grocery store for restocking, and no dryer (which meant, yes, daily hanging wet clothes on a rack). Thus, there are certain comforts we have gone without—but to live in France it was certainly worth it, and I have no complaints. I do admit, though, that it will be nice to return to the things that make life a little easier. And, quite frankly, now that je suis enceinte, it becomes even more imperative I return to the States and to a healthcare network I am familiar with (and that speaks English). I have no problem giving birth in France, but if complications were to arise, I'd prefer being able to understand absolutely everything the doctors and nurses were to say to me, and not just the majority of it.

Before reaching all those creature comforts, however, we’ll have to overcome the hurdle of a nine-hour plane flight with two bright and lively toddlers. Thus I found this article on how to keep children somewhat quiet on board very helpful.