The Pendulum Doth Swing – Revisiting Our Relocation Decision

Today, Stuart popped the question.

Since we’re already married, you might be wondering “what question?”

“Might it be better, less stressful, if I were to come to America?”

Stuart and I are now both wondering if we aren’t totally nuts planning on living in France. Life has become so complicated! France may be beautiful. It may be cultural heaven. It may be close to everything we want to see and do. It may even hold untold gifts for us. But even running a business, let alone two, over there is getting a bit daunting. I won’t go into French business structures and taxes lest the eyes with which you are reading this roll back into your head and never return; suffice it to say, “Merde!” Stuart also brought up the unthinkable,”What if something were to happen to me? You’d be stuck in France alone with no income and no home to return to.” Apparently it has been weighing on his mind, and I can’t say it hasn’t crossed mine.

Ironically, for several months, we’ve tossed this decision of where to live around and around until we finally began making moves towards the realization of living in France just a few weeks ago. It felt good. It felt right. It felt “verified” by Spirit. It was a relief! And now? Now neither of us are so sure. France once again presents the extraordinary challenge of daily and business life in a nation that speaks…well, French!

Our choice to live in France all made perfect intellectual and heart-felt sense. Stuart was settled there making it easy for me to go as his spouse. It was a gateway to the UK if necessary. It was something I’ve always wanted to do. But what if it isn’t for us…not yet…and maybe never? I’m having to really look at my attachments to living there: “Oh, Europe! Far from Fukushima, nonlabeled GMO’s, and American stupidity”…and the assumptions I’ve made about it: “My true destiny awaits!” What if all moving there served to do was complicate our lives in irreversible ways?

What are the consequences of altering our decision? I’ve quit my day job and put my house on the market. I’ve organized all the forms I need to close my business in December, turning away opportunities and not bothering to cultivate new ones, started changing my domicile to Florida (opened a new bank account there, got forms I needed from the post office certified, purchased a mail forwarding service), gave away a bunch of my belongings, and have been doing research about France to the point of turning purple. So, if we brake and reverse course, what happens next?

  • I’ll have to undo everything I can undo including taking my house of the market and buying things…like a hammer…that I really don’t want to have to purchase again.
  • We’ll have to now initiate the CR1 Visa process with a 6-month-average wait time and burden family with sponsorship.
  • While we wait, we have two households to pay but I’ve quit my day job and Stuart’s income remains capped due to all that stuff I didn’t get into that would have made you blind a couple of paragraphs ago.

It isn’t too late to change direction. It isn’t like I’ve had offers on the house. I haven’t sold my furniture. But it is so disorienting…like some kind of creepy fun house that  isn’t really all that fun. Every corner provides some new “pop up” obstacle or consideration making me drool and make musical noises with my lips. Can the straight-jacket be far behind?

I’ll have to deal with the, “I thought you were moving to France,” comments and explain to people…wait…forget that part. Romantic notions about living in France are all well and good, but this is a decision with just about the biggest ramifications imaginable. Do I really need to explain anything? What’s really important here? We want to be together.  We want to be happy. We want to create and prosper. Where’s the best place for us to do that???

I feel utterly, completely, entirely torn apart because I want it all and want it NOW! (A Veruka Salt moment brought to you by Youtube.)

It has made me call into question this so-called gift of free will. For one thing, it’s an illusion. For another, I don’t want it anymore! Would someone up there please just tell me what precisely it is we’re supposed to do in a clear, irrefutable language that even a very stubborn human can understand?

My head hurts.

Helpful Quick Bits: Your US Cellphone in Europe

Thought I’d just quickly share that today I learned my CDMA Smartphone will not do me any good in France, even if I have a service provider unlock it. France…Europe…uses the GSM platform. So, I’m adding my Smartphone to my growing list of things to sell before I leave. No sense having it take up precious luggage space if I can’t use it!

Here’s a link to a good article I found on the topic at Expat Focus.

Moving Stuff Overseas: More Than I Ever Wanted to Know

So, today, I have begun my research into moving all of my crap overseas. You may be able to tell by my use of the word “crap” that I am less than enthused by the impending process.

It’s a good thing I starting looking into this now, because like every international process, it is incredibly complicated, costly, and full of bureaucratic delights. Today, I discovered, for example, that I need what’s called a “Certifcat de Changement de Residence” from the French Consulate. (What would have happened, I wonder, if I had failed to realize this? A 21.2% TVA on my items?) This gets sent to me, I fill it in, it goes back to them for a stamp, and then gets sent back to me…or something like that. And rats, I think I also need a Certificat de Non-cessation to prove all items are for my personal use which I failed to request when I called the consulate not 20 minutes ago. Doh! Maybe, just maybe, they’ll include it?

There are other things it says I need but I don’t think they apply to my situation as a spouse of an EU citizen. I’m not relocating for work, for example, so I can’t provide documents to that effect.

I am not bringing a lot with me, and the more I learn, the less I feel attached to things. Nothing I own is really worth anything…’cept to me, of course. I have very little furniture anyway, and only three small pieces that I want to have in my new home. I do have several electronics items and my sound healing tools, and hopefully, I can locate some proof that I own all this…ahem…crap because supposedly, I may encounter difficulties without recus or receipts.

I’m also bringing some clothes, shoes, jewelry, suitcases, books, much-loved kitchen items like the colonial flatware I grew up with and ye olde US measuring utensils, and papers. Really, I can’t imagine it taking up more than 25 sq ft. of space. Though I would like to bring my unused cosmetics, supplements, and food items, it sounds like that will be more trouble that it’s worth. Best to start using it up (and yes, I will grieve the loss of my irreplaceable, beloved Neem toothpaste).

I apparently will need a detailed inventory of all items, one inventory per box, electronics separate, in duplicate, signed and dated…and of course, translated into French. Wee. And I’m not talking French! (Please pardon my oui joke.)

Now, as for getting it there, I seem to have several options starting with air or sea. They say sea tends to be more economical, so that’s most likely the way I’ll go. Now within that category, I can pack and transit myself to the carrier, pack myself and have it picked up, or have it packed, transported, and shipped for me. I can also have a private or shared container, in which my belongings would be created with the belongings of others. It can arrive at a terminal in France where I can pick it up or it can be brought to my French residence. So many options!

I don’t know anything else yet…and frankly, even this was more than I ever wanted to know. I’ll post more as I learn more. Wish me bon courage!

Ode to Asheville

As I prepare to bid adieu to my home for the last 10 years of my life, I find myself becoming a bit sentimental. Asheville hasn’t always been an easy place for me to be, but it has never failed to nurture and comfort me through the growing pains it induced. Only now that I’m leaving do I see the extent of the community I’ve built for myself here, and for a recovering hermit such as myself, that’s been no small feat. I am letting myself grieve for Asheville. I know I will miss it, but I also know it is time to move on. I have learned what I came here to learn.

I came to Asheville alone, with no plan, and not knowing anybody in 2003, following the unexpected death of my brother. With the assistance of my sound healing mentor, I was welcomed by a Nepalese family and given a job in their shop. That year had been a strange series of endings and beginnings. I had gotten divorced, my work contract ended, my lease was up. So I moved temporarily to Garden of the Goddess ranch in Cerrillos, NM and spent my days chanting Ngondro and my nights battling the mice and listening to the coyotes. I didn’t know where or how, but I knew I would be going somewhere else soon. All the signs were pointing to, “Go!” On my cross-country travels which included sound healing studies in Pennsylvania with my mentor, it was recommended to me to pass through Asheville. That pass through has taken me to 2014.

There is a myth about Asheville spitting people out if they aren’t ready for the energy here. I heard story after story about how hard it was to make a living…that people either love it or hate it. Like many others, I knew instantly I had to be here. It was something about the Smoky Mountains. They sang to me when I drove through them. They knew me. Somehow, I always managed to find a decent job, often with pay that exceeded the pathetic minimum. I don’t know why I was so fortunate, but when I needed it, Asheville even coughed up a business grant and eventually, my house.

I think I became an adult in Asheville…a real adult: a person who knew how to be there for herself, take responsibility, and face what needed facing. I went through some serious karmic trials, from a horrible stalking relationship to illness to the death of my Dad, but through it all, I somehow discovered a love for myself. It helped me break many bad habits like hiding and hating life. Asheville drew me out of myself.

It did that by giving me endless opportunity: to dance, to sing, to write, and to make friends. I found here a family that shine brighter than any people I have ever known, genuine people who have been tempered by their own trials without being soured by them. They are artists, musicians, writers, teachers, and creatives of all kinds, gentle and open-hearted, generous souls who appreciate the gift of life.

I am so grateful to this land (this holodeck of jobs, friends, and entertainments) for providing for me these past 10 years. I am so grateful I got to experience one last glorious fall season here. I am so grateful for my dear friends and creative colleagues…several relationships I know will last a lifetime. To a woman such as myself, a Dorothy always looking over the rainbow, Asheville gave me a true experience of “there’s no place like home.”

And perhaps most importantly of all, I know that place is within me.

Learning French II: Anglench or Franglish?

Last night, I attended my very first soiree that my native French-speaking friend and teacher MayaJoelle held at her house. It was an evening of French and a potluck followed by a French movie. It was a well-timed opportunity for me to experience immersion before I really experience immersion. What it showed me is that my dabbling with French since May and mere three lessons with MayaJoelle in the past few weeks have actually been effective. I’m learning to converse!

Granted, I understood about 15% of what was going on around me and probably spoke even less, but I was able to interact, nonetheless. I am proud of myself, but also painfully aware of how much there is yet to learn. It makes me feel like a child. Fortunately, I was in a room full of encouraging adults not overly amused with my slow, stilted, and sometimes grammatically incorrect attempts to speak. I actually constructed some decent sentences and listened for familiar phrases here and there, gathering meaning from gesture, facial expression, and context.

The mind really is an incredible tool, hell-bent on understanding. At one point, I had a rather one-sided conversation about French immigration with someone, and though I didn’t really know what he was saying, whether he was telling me about what I’d be facing or what he was facing, my mind had decided to interpret his words and make meaning from them. I may never know whether my assumption that he was speaking of his own experience was correct.

I was thinking in the car on the ride home in a sort of Anglench…or is it Franglish? It made me think of some of those Bollywood  films where the actors will suddenly throw in an English phrase mid-sentence. I even caught myself thinking, “Je ne sais pas”…as if that was the only way to say, “I don’t know.” Maybe that’s the approach I need to take. In order to get as much practice as I can with what I know, perhaps I should be using as much French as I can in every sentence I speak, using the English when I don’t know the French equivalent.

Another thing I noticed was this weird reflex to throw in Spanish or Italian. I think I said, “Gracie” about three times. After listening to one man share a brief story, I almost blurted out, “Il parles muy bein francais!” Fortunately, someone else spoke first. The fact that I’m going on a spiritual journey to Mexico in a couple of weeks is NOT going to help matters! Of course, there, I’ll probably be speaking some kind of Spananglich. Frenishlench?