Today, this blog is just a dream.
I wonder about what a life in Paris would look like. Could I do it? Would I manage to survive or – thrive – in my beloved city? Would my relationship survive along with me?
I am an American. I am a Francophile. I am also unbelievably risk-averse and nervous when it comes to big decisions and complicated life choices. Moving to France to be with my boyfriend? Check, and check.
The dreamer in me hesitantly says… “wouldn’t that be exciting?” She starts feverishly Googling other expats and Americaines who have taken the leap before her. The dreamer thinks if they can do it, she can do it, right? She says… “why not?”
And then my nervous instincts send me running the other way, throwing all the reasonable “here’s why nots” over my shoulder all the way home. How would I even do that? What would I do for work? My French isn’t nearly good enough for that. What would I do with all my stuff? What do you even pack to move to another continent?
As if packing is the number 1 concern when deciding whether to move to Paris or not.
Of course, I’ve done this once before.
Once upon a time, a whopping 5 years ago, I moved to Wales. Yup, Wales like in the United Kingdom, in the land of tea and scones and sheep and rain.
It was a terrifying decision, and even then it didn’t bear the dramatic consequences that a potential move to France would hold. I went to Wales for grad school, straight out of college. I didn’t have an apartment, or furniture, or a job to hold me back. I was otherwise living with my parents and found a program that fit exactly what I was looking for.
I remember researching this Masters program and thinking how perfect it was, and reflecting on how it was such a shame that it was located in Wales. I kept researching programs, and kept returning to this one. I longed for it to be stateside. And I’ll never forget what my mother said when I spoke with her about it for the hundredth time, saying it sucks that it’s overseas, and I could never go. In her wisest words to date, she replied “… well, why not?“
I was dumbstruck.
It was a great question. Why not apply and see what happens? Why not move to the UK for a year to get the degree you want in the program that sounds perfect? I had no answer. And so I applied. And I went. And it really wasn’t so hard after all.
All those little things that add up into “why nots” just aren’t so daunting once you start to check them off the to-do list one by one. Sure, it’s a pain to apply for a visa and wait anxiously to see if you’re even approved, but once you send your passport to the consulate, that hurdle is jumped and all you have to do is wait.
The job and life stuff is a little harder. What do you do with all your furniture and physical things that you wouldn’t take with you? I’m not convinced that my parents will want to give up a quarter of their small basement for a collection of my belongings I may come back for at some unknown point in the future. And am I really ready to quit my job and just hope I get a new one when I get to France? I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to find a job where, even if it’s an English-speaking company, I wouldn’t need a fast, fluent proficiency in French above my current capabilities.
The hardest question of all is what will happen to my relationship. And that’s the one that I’m not sure anyone could answer except us, while we’re in it. I have doubts and fears about whether we’re meant for each other forever, and whether we would resent each other over time with the kind of pressure that a transatlantic move would put on us.
All that and this move isn’t even a reality yet. Maybe it never will be. But it might be, and all I can think of is all the glorious, terrifying, confusing things that will come of it if this dream comes true.