By now, a lot of you get it. We are moving to Switzerland this July for, what we understand, is a very long time. I know many people were shocked by the news, especially after we had spent so long in Paris. I expected that reaction as we were pretty quiet about Mr H’s discussions with his new company until they became serious. What I didn’t expect was the reaction I’m going to call “noncommittal”. This is a generic version of this conversation and if any part of it resonates with you, don’t be upset. I am just trying to understand what is behind this:
Me: So, it’s official! We are moving to Switzerland this summer!
Other person: Oh what a shock! I’m happy for you…if that’s what you want?
There it is. Is it concern that I am upset to leave Paris? Is it worry that I am disappointed in Mr H’s newest work adventure? Is it snobbery that Switzerland isn’t “PARIS!”? Is it judgement? I am 99% sure that from most people, it is NOT the latter two.
So, what IS it then?
I had a long talk with a client-friend we will call Curly who told me I appear to ‘have it made’ in Paris and it seems strange I would want, like actually want, to leave here. That I would be excited by it and not devastated. Curly explained to me (hi Curly if you are reading this!) that I have made myself such an involved life here: a running club, a soccer club, a business, friends, clients, client-friends, etc., that it probably hasn’t occurred to people WHY I worked hard to make Paris fit me, versus me fitting into Paris.
You see, Paris and I have a weird history. I never wanted to live here. This wasn’t a dream of mine. I didn’t think about Paris. I didn’t dream about coming here on a romantic trip one day, especially not after I came here once and thought it was pretty but not for me. Then I did the thing I have learned a lot of girls dream about: I met a boy who lived in Paris. We got engaged here and then I moved and have stayed for a very, very long time. I approached my move here with some hesitation but was determined to figure out a life for myself that would work. As it happened, I did realise more and more that Paris wasn’t a perfect fit for me so I made it fit as best I could. The truth of the matter is, I’m perpetually twitchy in Paris. Sure I love a good night out on the town with heels, a nice bag and a pretty hipster restaurant to park myself in with some champagne, but that isn’t all I need in life. Fashion is fun but I could care less when it is Fashion Week here. I am not an artist and don’t see the poetry in things here like others do. I despise pain au chocolat (sorry, I know!) and I have had to break up with baguettes more times than I can count as they just don’t seem to love my waistline as much as I love the taste! It has taken some time but I have learned that I’m OK with not fitting into the “Paris is everything” mould.
That said, I also know I have been extremely fortunate to have had this time here. I have given birth to two children for whom Paris is their home. I have made amazing friends. I did become as integrated as possible in my own way. In other words, Paris and I, we’ve grown to love each other in a very special way. Yet, I am ready to say goodbye.
I am not delusional about moving to another country. I know there is xenophobia, cultural clashes, weird quirks and a host of other things you must encounter when relocating. What I also know is that there are places better suited to your interests than others and that is where moving to Switzerland is winning for me. My family are at home in the mountains. We love to hike. Junior boy is interested in continuing his sailing lessons, like his father. Little Miss believes in her whole heart right now that her future is in competitive skiing. To live somewhere that combines all of this within short distances of each other, plus the benefit of city-life, makes this move compelling to us. We see this as a blend of our Franco-Canuck-Anglo-city-mountain-lake-personalities. Doesn’t roll off the tongue easily but that’s what it is.
Paris is wonderful, there is no doubt, but for us, there is a better place a bit further down the road. And yes, that is what I want.
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