I have started multiple posts trying to tell what happened in the past month. But you know, there is too much. From the selling of our first house, to the packing, sorting, storing, getting a container shipped, a truck driven to California, more packing for three months of transitions:
- from the selling of our house to a Portland borrowed apartment, a road trip to California, staying in California for two weeks, leaving for France, staying in Rouen (with one day trip to grenoble to sign papers for our new apartment)
There were a lot of :
- farewell parties, more good byes to friends, final days of work, good byes to long time students and families of students.
- a lot of papers scanning and translating for several apartment applications and shipment organization,
- some crazy shocking US passports incidents that made impossible to use them and added so much stress a week before leaving Portland,
- some stomach flu(s), fevers, stress, strep throat and jet lag combined, sleep deprivation, insomnia, back ache,
- more paperwork, more packing, more sorting, more saying good byes to family and friends,
- more bills and last day in Portland parking tickets (I had paid but kept the receipt in my wallet because you know, I was not tired)
There also were :
- relaxing California,
- wonderful family and kiddos/cousins, family reunion,
- laughs and smiles and great memories made,
- the "POOL" (Mael's favourite) and the "BALL" & "BUCKET" (Maceo's favourite)
- books read, World cup matches watched, childhood memories shared and sorted,
- many birthdays including Maceo turning 2 (also not spending a birthday or major national holiday in an hospital)
- more smiles and laughs and memories... and SUN.
Now the real stuff: THANK YOU !!!!! Thank you to all of you out there far and close, further and closer. We are lucky to have such an incredible amount of friends, family and friends of family looking out for us and our boys.
Thank you to the recent emails I have had or reach out from expats who are asking how we are doing.
Your messages in the past three days have actually made a difference because not only was I dealing with feeling completely exhausted, sick and overwhelmed but I took a train to Grenoble, got there, sign the papers for an apartment, visited it briefly, saw where the park was, where the school was, saw how close everything was, walked everywhere and took a train back to Rouen. Although, all of this seem cool (I really like that we are going to walk everywhere), I was in a state of complete doubt and culture shocked. I was wondering what I was doing, breathing deeply, almost crying and trying not to swallow (because my tonsils which I don't have were on fire). The three hours in Grenoble were a little like hell. I don't want to scare my sister. She is going to feel bad. To reassure anyone, I think I would have felt that way anywhere.
I felt like I was getting assaulted by my own culture. I could hear everything that was saying anywhere, I could smell smoke from cigarettes more than I have in years, I could not find any food that actually could be good (I was sick too, remember).
I felt that I would be bringing my family in a place that they were going to hate (not Grenoble per say), just any French cities. This was real French life, you know with dirty sidewalks and advertisements but I could see deeper in all of these things because I know, I can see what's hiding under all of it.
Yes, that's how I felt. No, no, it's not only that I was tired and sick. That's always how I feel when I come back except before I was not staying, I could decide to not care.
I got home, I hugged Mael who was sleeping deeply. I slept a little. I talked to Adam the day after via skype (I felt better already). I went to see the doctor. I slept well for the first time. I started taking care of things that needed to be taken care of. Receiving messages from expats reaching out to ask how I was feeling was the best. Because THEY KNOW. They know what it is to come back to a place you know unconsciously, that you cherish because it's where you are from, it's what you are made of, but you left, whatever your reasons, you left and you never come back the same, you never come back home. They did not say much, they mostly asked. But they did not have to say much. It felt great to feel understood.
10 years in the US went fast. 10 years, here, now, seems that I have left an eternity ago. I feel old and older. Nothing is the same and so much is.
So when I have been asked : are you excited? I always said yes, because it's what you should say but I always added "scared" too. Now I am going to be asked : "So are you happy you are back?" and I am going to say yes, because that's what I should say but I am going to add "and scared" too because it's still how I feel.
We are still in transition and all my efforts right now is to get us ready to be in that apartment in a couple of weeks, to make it our own and to make Mael comfortable because I am going to have to talk to you about him. He does not speak much but when he opens up, there is some laughs and some heart aches and some complete wonderful things he says because he is 5 and 1/2 and that the important things to him sometimes are not what I think.
I want to say thank you to my boys for being such incredible troopers. They are always calm and happy (90% of the time). They are so easy going even in the storm. They never cease to amaze me that way. I want to say thank you to Adam for being so supportive and so excited about this new part of our life. Also, for wanting to do it (ask him, he always was the one pushing to do it, he always knew we would) so he can understand what it is, so our boys can experience their other culture.
Thank you to Marc and Libby for the apartment in Portland, it was priceless.
Thank you to John and Kathy for taking care of sick Maceo and driving a truck for us, hosting us so many days.
Thank you to Sue and John for the wonderful daily pool visits we had.
Thank you to all our friends for taking, buying, helping with stuff.