May 10, 2016
Moving to Provence.
We are moving to Aix-en-Provence, France this summer.
The pace of the project is swifter than we expected; we put our house on the market a couple of weeks ago and within about a week it was done. Made it hard to decelerate what we had set in motion.
On our recent trip to Aix, we found a house. The trip was really a house treasure hunt and we walked away feeling like we had won. It took just 3 visits and then we knew it when we caught sight of it. It is a big old bastide (~17th c.) charged with all the charm of Provence.
We are all walking away from a New York City life: stirring in all the best and worst ways – our city streets have a pulse, dynamism and force all their own. The girls don’t know suburbia and they certainly don’t know pastoral life. Their loping is limited to stretches of grass in Central Park, which, in all its splendor, still isn’t sweeping. We are all accustomed to screeching sirens and horns honking just outside our windows. We want to get closer to nature – to wild things and raw sun. I want them to know those things by heart - as a constant, not just in summer patches.
That said, we love New York City. Wet eyes when I think about really leaving. A tribute to come. It is where Xavier and I met 10 years ago, it was where all the girls were born, it is where two of my brothers and our dearest friends live, it is where we bought our amazing house – it has been our place.
When we told her,
Colette said: “We won’t live in New York City anymore?”
I replied: “No, but we love New York and may come back some day.”
Colette: “Will we look different then?... Will our friends be gone?”
I choked back lament.
They are antipodes: New York and Aix-en-Provence. A move this radical requires some serious commitment, strategy and planning. Good thing I look at Xavier and think to myself, there is not one person on earth with whom I would rather partner for a move across an ocean with small children. Xavier is completely undaunted by this sort of thing.
I have been daydreaming for a long time about this move; pining for certain things in Provence. My list is something like:
Green green grass
Sun (over 300 days a year)
My girls in the sun
Marguerite in regular doses
Bicycling on streets without taxis
A swimming pool (lifelong dream)
Our own olives for pressing
Learning to cook à la provençal (or, at all, really)
Time - stretched out with my girls and Xavier:
Time to compose photographs
Time to write
Time to play
Time to train a puppy
Time to drop Colette off at school every day
Time to get Colette and Romy started on the piano
Time to teach them to swim
Time to study their little faces long enough to watch them grow before my eyes
I am ready to give up a finance/business lexicon I was never comfortable speaking. (Although I will admit I have ambitions to one day write a play about my experiences). I have felt disconnected from myself – stretched in bad and good ways too – working in that industry. I’ve become more rigorous and less fun (I hope to coax that side of me back out) and I’ve worn a serious expression far too much of the time I spent there (6 years!). Those years helped build structure for things to come – including some components of this move, so I don’t regret them.
Maybe we are pushing our luck with this whole thing - but we are 100%. Provence, here we come.