Thursday, 5 May 2011

The other anniversary

If you've been with me all the way so far this post won't contain much that's new but I'm moved to acknowledge that this blog is a little over 1 year old so here's a belated birthday wish and celebration of the intense and unexpected life I have had for the past 12 months.

Financially I am much worse off. I have almost no belongings, certainly no furniture or appliances, not many clothes. I didn't have much to start with and I'm a little sad from time to time when I remember the things from my past I have had to give up. I'm sentimental rather than materialistic but there was no choice.

Originally I had thought to put a few things in storage in Auckland, just in case, and then come back in a couple of years time and sort it all out or move it. Unfortunately I had no space in my abode in France and no money for storage. I also ended up making a strategic decision to make it very, very difficult for myself to come back to NZ, even if it got tough or my job ended. I would just want to come back to see Laura and some friends, that's all. I can't do that for some time-I'd need quite a bit of money for that and my salary doesn't support it.

Healthwise over the past year I've had some difficulties; aging isn't dignified or enjoyable in my opinion. I'm more prone to accidents or other things going wrong that don't heal completely. That's a little unnerving and so is the chronic pain but it doesn't stop me finding ways to enjoy myself. It's just that I'm having to learn to live around the limitations of aches and pains and becoming more fragile than I remember.

Love has eluded me for a long time. I thought I had met the love of my life back in 2008. Nicolas created such hope for the future I'd been dreaming about: handsome and intelligent man, hard worker, lives near Paris, similar tastes to me, willing to sponsor me into France to live with him. Alas, it was a mirage and the cruel discovery really took me down. From time to time I have a momentary thought of him, not often now, and I wonder what has become of him but I have never made an attempt to contact him since I have moved to France. Not by phone or email or even by visiting. There's no point. The loss did harden my resolve to get to France, without him. I just had to use a different path.

I knew I was going to lose my job as a public affairs advisor in 2010 due to political machinations so I decided to try to future-proof myself by obtaining a TESOL qualification. With that I could teach in many places around the world. I wanted to teach in France but at that stage I didn't realise how impossible that would be.

I enrolled in a residential course in Brittany. It took all my financial resources and a loan but I had to do it. Things did not work out as I had expected. This blog chronicles the process my life has gone through to get from where I was in Auckland to living here in Cafeolait. Mostly it's been really tough.

 Right now things have settled a bit and a wonderful man and I have found each other via the internet. That's an adventure in itself.

I have no guarantee that I can stay here past September but I'm hopeful and trying not to think about the consequences if I can't. So the goal of this blog isn't over even though I'm now in France and have found a lover. What's going to happen? I hope there's lots of magical happy things. I hope I can find lasting love and a lasting way to stay here. I hope my work can become meaningful and more supportive of living here but I do know it's been a hell of a ride this past year and I will always be able to look back and say Shit! But I did it! Good decision.

A mini Chronology

23 April 2010 I expressed my life's dream publicly on this blog.
May 2010 I worried about the Icelandic volcano destroying my travel to France
I finally left for Brittany where after a gruelling course I obtained my TESOL certification.I met Pascal and his family and explored Brittany.
June 2010 I emailed Nicolas to say I was in France and arriving in Paris but there was no response.
I tried to arrange job interviews in France but the doors all slammed in my face- except the one at REEDS.
My first experience of Paris and my trip exploring Provence, meeting Bill Clinton and a perfume designer.
July 2010 I had only 2 months to dismantle my life and move to France, sacrificing daily contact with my daughter, almost all belongings, workmates and friends and pets. Difficulties with the French Embassy.
August 2010 Hassles with my bank over my mortgage, giving up my hobbies.
Sept 2010 Sad goodbyes at the airport and giving up my home and garden. Laura getting fulltime work. Arriving in a new country.
Oct 2010 Getting to know my studio and Cafeolait. Learning how to live here and use french transport. Starting my new job and struggling with a new language.
Nov 2010 Coping with freezing temperatures and huge snowfalls, french gangster and meeting other guys who are not viable.Buying a car. Robbed in the metro. Feeling alone, broke.
Dec 2010 Selling a car. Spending Christmas with Pascal's family in Brittany. Becoming ill.
Jan 2011 Admitted to emergency department at hospital. Having to move out of my studio temporarily, meeting Damien briefly.
Feb 2011 Exploring Rambouillet. Exploring Paris alone. Saint Valentines day - still no lover.
The Christchurch Earthquake destroys my birth city and still no news of my Mother or Brother.
I meet Jean-Claude.
March 2011 Jean-Claude and I spend weekends getting to know each other and explore the countryside together. Paris memorial service for Christchurch victims.
My daughter Laura turns 20 years old. I have a house-warming.
April 2011 JC and I visit Mont St Michel and Normandy. I turn 56 years old in Brittany. We visit Monet's garden at Giverney.
I visit Barcelona, Spain for a project launch.

Most of the above was completely unpredictable. What on earth is around the corner? I have no idea how many people read this blog or who they are. I'm aware of some of you if I get a message but I think more people read it spasmodically than I realise. Well, I hope so; it's my way to keep in touch and to let folks I've never met know a little about the adventures of a middle-aged woman called Frances Lawson. A woman who is only now beginning to know and understand herself.
Photos show me as interpreted by Jean-Claude (demon photographer), my old life, Laura.


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