Today, I booked a flight to Paris. This trip is part healing journey, part future reconnaissance mission and part letting my inner gypsy stretch her wings after a year of staying put! It has been two years since I have been to the city of lights. The last time I was in Paris I was a wife, celebrating a 10th wedding anniversary with a husband. This time I go as just, Renee, a woman desiring to reconnect with a place that she loves. I also go as a woman stepping into her future.
I have always wanted to live in France obviously since I am an American there are only so many visa options available to me but the one, I have my eye on for now is the one-year extended tourist visa. I feel like having a year in France will either confirm my dream or change it.
Since the one-year visa option requires you to have your accommodation determined in advance at least for a decent duration of your time there, I need to know where I want to land for that year before I apply. So, the reconnaissance mission that I will be on is to reconnect with Paris again enough to ask the city girl in me if I love the city enough to also accept winter weather and the distance from a large body of water and palm trees. Or do I feel called to something smaller, more intimate? I plan on exploring the city of Biarritz. Biarritz is on the southwest coast of France near the border with Spain and climate wise it is about as close to San Diego weather that you can get in France. Biarritz is a cross between luxury, seaside community and surfer mecca for Europe. I am drawn to going there, it feels right even though that feeling is hard to explain. When you get an intuition about something, that “gut feeling” you just know, and it is not something that is explainable always, sometimes you just have to trust it and go with it.
The other area I plan to explore is the Mediterranean coast in the South. From Argelès-sur-Mer near the Spanish border to Menton, the last train stop before Italy both cities coastal and Mediterranean. Between now and July I need to narrow that part of my search a bit, but I am amazed at the amount of information you can find out about a place online these days and thanks to YouTube you can take a virtual trip to most places by watching videos posted in those places to get a sense of what they are like.
By the end of this trip, I want to have that gut feeling confirmed of where I want to base myself during my year.
Obviously, I am watching the announcements from the EU closely since while they are going to open to non-EU citizens with health documents on June 9th, they are currently in lock down and it is not at all likely that they will go from lock down to wide open movement in one go. So, I am prepared to go with the flow of things as may be needed.
The healing part of this journey is much harder to articulate, I think part of it is good old programming taking a hold of something and creating an expectation that nothing or no one can live up to. Like creating an expectation for how you and your significant other are going to have this amazing, romantic, connecting adventure just because you are in this place that is known for delivering that kind of thing but does a place really have that kind of power?
Of course not, the connection is about those to people and what is between them and when that changes perhaps there is a part of you that feels like, “let’s go to Paris” that will fix it, that will return that spark that had been there. Let’s go away, by ourselves and leave the world behind so we can just focus on our connection but that too is very hard to do these days, there are very few places that you can go where you can actually force the world to leave you be, particularly if that is not a choice that you are called to make in the first place.
Other people tend to get brought along because that is a choice you make but all of those little seemingly innocuous choices speak to your intention whether you intend them to or not. We bring along all of the people that we read a text from and decide to take a moment to return the message. All of those “quick calls” you “need” to make. I am pointing no fingers here; I am just as guilty as the next. What I am looking at here are those subtle choices that I made, I can only speak for my actions, I can only assess my part in things, so I ask myself what in me thought that those choices to bring others along when I was meant to be with my significant other was okay, that it wouldn’t matter. I know that it did matter, it does matter.
These days with all of our devices, inputs and choices that we are presented with each day, they all matter. I want to make those choices consciously and wisely, ensuring that they reflect my values.
So, I go back to a city I love, to walk its streets, to sit by its river, to watch its people while sipping a thick, silky espresso, to overhear its conversations, to be present with its aliveness and with me in it.
I feel like I am in the process of stepping back into my own aliveness, the last year has felt like I had stepped outside of the world. I watched from the confines of my bird’s nest apartment as life continued on, but I haven’t felt much like participating in it, I have felt more like a wounded animal, sequestered and healing; waiting for the right moment, when I felt ready to stick my head back out into life again.
I don’t feel ready today, but an airline ticket and the city of lights has my inner gypsy pushing me, telling me it is time, it is time to step back into life again.
I hope you are well and living your very best life! Hugs – Renée