Chapter Twenty One – The Big Bold Move
by Christine Wild
The decision fell, almost exactly a year later. The plan is set in motion and we are doing it. We are really doing it. I cannot believe it is actually happening and will probably wait for something to screw it up before we are on the plane.
Yet, here we were! In FRANCE! Can you believe it? We moved to France. What a sigh of relief. I felt like a little kid the night before Christmas. I had two weeks until my new job was due to start and we had to deal with the unbearable bureaucracy that all who have moved to France are all too familiar with. It was challenging but it was blissful. We had gotten ourselves out of our rut in Vancouver, sold everything we owned, and shipped only a handful of suitcases. During the first days, we walked around, tried to get a bank to accept our application, struggled to get a phone plan, and enjoyed having some time to ourselves.
On a particularly sunny day, we sat down at the only beach bar open in January and drank rosé with our happy feet in the sand and cigarettes in our hands. This bar was a little hut, literally on the beach, in Juan les pins. The waiters were handsome and smiling (a feat in France) and some awesome electro-chill beats were playing. The sun was strong even though it was soon setting. I could feel it hit my skin and could have sat there with my eyes closed until the end of time. We smiled at each other like blissful idiots. I’m not sure it if was the vitamin D, the sweet sweet wine, or the surreal actuality of the situation, but it felt like we had succeeded at life, like we had gotten it right if just this once. There was another couple there, and the four of us seemed to be the only ones in on a very important secret in this world: the secret of the little things in life.
I will always remember how we looked at each other in the car at the first sight of the sea arriving on the riviera and sang our lungs out. “I’m so proud of us bébé; we made it!” We had made it this far and were so confident that it was going to be amazing, super hard but amazing. We picked out an apartment that was too cliché to be true, with colourful tiles, an arched hallway, creaky doors and high ceilings. I could just picture us dancing there, to some jazz, in our beautiful kitchen. It was one of those kitchens with a big white farmhouse sink and an old gas stove. It looked onto a small courtyard, where a old palmtree died and a orange tree grew. It was just like a movie. We lived above a tea shop for fuck’s sake.
We spent those first couple of weeks eating on patios, strolling down pedestrian cobbled streets and watching old men walk around with baguettes under their arms. It was the dream come true and I couldn’t wait for life to unfold, for us to meet our new French friends, for us to go dancing, for us to live the lives we thought we were destined to live.
I eventually started my job and Liam ventured into town on his own, texting me to inform me of the new words he had learned. “Une autre bière, s’il vous plaît.” Amazing stuff. My job was alright, intense. I was working from 8am to 8pm to sustain him not having a job for a while. It felt odd working that much when all I wanted to do was explore the scenery and revive the passion we had somehow lost in the incumbrance of the stuff we had accumulated in the past. But it was all worth it, as it allowed us to live out the dreams we had made up for ourselves.
To be perfectly honest, it was all a bit surreal. Everyone in Switzerland thought I was mad to move to France. “You got it the wrong way around my darling. In this day and age, there is no money to be made in France!” Yes, I know. Thanks. We picked it because it allowed him to get a visa rather easily and it allowed me to finally see some sun. The French Riviera… The dream! I get to live inside the same city walls within which Hemingway drank and Picasso painted! How do people forget this? How does society not allow for those kinds of musings to matter, for art to become an integral part of your life, for money to come last? As I have said before, I can handle a lot, as long as I see my happiness indicator moving up. No matter how hard it was going to be, I was ready to take it on. I was ready to work as hard as physically possible, because we were creating a life worth living for ourselves. In that instance, I was so proud of us.
I was proud of how easily we de-cluttered, of how committed we had become. We were unhappy with our lives in Vancouver and we did something about it. Everyone warned us; this was going to take a lot of effort. He was a man who was going to depend on a woman. I have to admit it bothered me that in 2015 this was something that I had to worry about, but they were not wrong. It was part of a bigger thing that he would have to face. Just as I had been faced with all of life’s uncertainties in 2009, he would now have to face his internal music and create something that he would be proud of for his own little self. I thought it was magical that he was brave enough to do that, regardless of his age and status. It was no big sacrifice for me, but admittedly we are not made from the same cloth. It was a huge achievement for him. I knew it was going to make us or break us, but I had been preparing to take that risk. Taking the risk is what made us in that moment. I could not be more excited.
“- I love you bébé. – I love you too. – I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for us.” With those words, I fell asleep peacefully and dreamt about champagne glasses and passionate kisses.
I sit here, on my so-very-cliché patio, drinking wine in the dark. I am trying to decipher the words that best describe my current situation. Let’s see…
Single? Yeah, that one definitely applies.
Unemployed? Yep, that one too. I quit my job. Out of desperation and exhaustion.
Aimless? Yes, absolutely. Perfectly, decidedly, aimless.
How could this have happened? What’s next? Oh my poor heart. The carousel never stops turning. My life currently looks like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy and Bridget Jones has become my spirit animal.
So I take another swig of that delicious red wine and light yet another cigarette. I watch the amber as it shines through the darkness, perfectly still and shivering all the same. I have been here before.