Monday, November 1, 2010

The People in My Neighbourhood: The Parisians

There a quite a lot of second homes in the village, places people either have inherited from aunts, uncles, parents, and cousins or houses that by some strange twist of fate now belong to people from Holland, Germany, or *gasp* even Paris. Estrangers who have bought old places and fixed them up during their short and infrequent visits to the mole hill.

I like it when they are all here. They open their shutters and turn on the lights and the life of this village changes. There are more bisous to give, more stories to share, and more good excuses for a lengthy dinner by the wood stove. Not to forget, the best excuse for grabbing a bottle of wine from the reserve section on the wine rack. 

There's a couple from Paris, so to speak, who bought their house about the same time we bought ours. They had moved all over France with His job over the years and after spending time in the Auvergne, decided it was here, in the sticks, that they needed to find some quiet. I can recall numerous vacations and long weekends when She would be here, working late into the night, sanding and painting, just to get their old house looking as wonderful as it does now. I'd see her in her work clothes, smudged with dirt and dust and then on the day she'd be leaving, this beautiful woman would appear at my gate, wearing shoes fit for Paris, and say good bye till next time.

I didn't get to see much of them this year since He had been transferred to another job in Eastern Europe. A massive life change for them which meant changing everything about their lives. They left their apartment in Paris, had to figure out how to get their three not-quite independent children set in various schools and towns around the country, and then move themselves to a place where they had no contacts and needed to learn a language that most of us have forgotten exists.

It's been hard for them. 

The Man and I sat with them in the lounge last night and talked about how hard this year has been. How hard it is to be in your 40s (or almost) and realize that this isn't really where you want to be: full of stress, anxious for the future and worried that your children will resent you for choosing to do as you've done. We talked about how difficult it is to take risks and not lost sight of who you really are. We talked about how being together in our couples is so much more than one could have ever expected when we said those words, "I Do" ever so long ago. 

We pondered 'why.' We tried to understand how things have gotten to this point in our lives, not sure that we have any good answers to any of the big questions, knowing that we are basically fumbling blindly through this life. We talked about how when it comes right down to it, the thought of giving it all up and running away to a shack in Idaho sounds just about perfect...

It's been a shitty year for so many people.

I don't blame them for not opening their shutters this time.

1 comment:

RHB said...

Glad you're getting to see your neighbors. It's kind of theraupeutic to discuss living a l'etrangere avec des autres qui comprendents.