When I was 13, my family underwent a restructure of sorts. Upper management felt that it was best for everyone if the organisation split off into two directions, and owing to financial constraints, both parties relocated. Ergo, the home I grew up in was no longer my home. I thought my heart would break. It didn’t. But it was a difficult time. We had lived in that house for 8 years, and I had also gone to the same Catholic school for all that time. Public high school was looming, and though I had a terrible time in my elementary/middle school, I didn’t know anything else, so I was more than a little apprehensive about what was to come. It was the end of so many things and I was frightened; it was also the beginning of many wonderful things, but when we’re fixated on the past, it’s very hard to turn our attention to the future.
Three years later, across a continent and over a rather large “pond”, C, having recently discovered basketball, was being discovered himself. It’s not every day in France you find a decent 6’7″ 16 year-old baller. And so it was that he was recruited to a team near Saint Etienne and moved away from the home into which he was born.
From those respective points onward, we moved about quite a lot, from one (mostly shared) apartment or house to another, once city to another, one country to another, and so on. Until we arrived back in C’s hometown, neither of us had lived more than a year and a half in the same place. We thought we’d only be in Le Puy for a couple of years at most, but as it turns out we’ve been here a little longer than planned, and we’ve spent the whole of the past three years in the same flat. We love this flat. I’m not exaggerating when I say that we visited 15 or 20 flats before we found this one. And the moment we walked through the door, we fell in love. It was a little more expensive than we had hoped, but it was still cheaper than renting a tiny room in a tiny 2-bedroom flat in London. And for that we got high ceilings, three bedrooms, hardwood flooring and antique tiles, super tall windows, three bedrooms and a massive living space, an excellent kitchen and lovely neighbours in a beautifully refurbished apartment.
A few months ago, entirely by accident, we found a flat in the old town here for sale that we really liked. Buying that flat would mean we could stop paying rent and instead make an investment, and that we could also rent it out if we found a way to go globetrotting again. It is not as big or bright, and it is entirely new, so no hardwood floors or antique tiles. We don’t know our neighbours yet, but we know lots of business owners around there. And it is lovely.
I’m looking forward to moving, but I’m nervous, too. France has been good to us, and maybe especially to me. I’ve learnt French, got quite healthy, and we’ve finally made some good friends. I’ve certainly spent a lot of time frustrated, and it has by no means been easy, but it has been good. And I suppose I associate much of that with this flat, because it has been to these four walls we’ve come home, and it has been, overall, the most welcoming home we’ve ever come home to.
This is not a problem – it is in fact a very positive thing: we will be home owners for the first time in our lives. If we keep the flat long enough to pay off the mortgage, we will have made a good investment and might also have new means to continue traveling. But it will be a big change. And yet, we have been presented with a much needed adventure we didn’t see coming, and that has softened the blow somewhat of not yet finding fulfilling work abroad.
Where we live; where we work and what we do; the people with whom we surround ourselves…the ability to choose these things is such a precious gift – one that I too often take for granted. I am grateful for this change…even if I am still a bit nervous. The past three years have been good, but the future holds a lot of promise for both of us. We have so many mountains to climb and rivers to cross. I know I can look back on our time in this home with very happy memories, so here’s hoping I can look to the future with as much hope and inspiration.