Sunday, June 27, 2010

L'Elephant dans la Chambre

In Paris last year my husband and I were talking. We were having one of those conversations that we rarely give ourselves the time for at home. Deeper than the usual day-to-day inquiries, housekeeping and amusing snatches of work gossip, we were talking about our future. My husband said to me that he was ready to own a place in Victoria - our home - and would be disappointed if we weren't taking steps towards this in a couple of years.

Upon returning from our trip we started the home ownership process, got approved for a mortgage and began looking at properties. We then spent several weekends being chauffeured by our patient realtor from condo to condo before coming to the conclusion that we really weren't ready to own our own place. It's one thing to give up my daily Starbucks, my Friday night cocktails or my monthly purchase of French Vogue but it's an extreme level of sacrifice to give up my annual trips to Paris.

Our pre-approved mortgage eventually expired and before we had much time to reflect on this fact, we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of Fedex and our tickets to see U2 play Stade de France in September. Paris was once again dominating our future plans.

To be perfectly honest, lack of home purchasing aside, I have given my husband a number of things to be disappointed about this past year. Between changing careers, various domestic failures, my endless pursuit of my two, very expensive passions - Horses and Paris! - and my newly discovered, much loved but non-paying, part-time job as a blogger, he has had every reason to become frustrated with me. Instead he has provided me with more support than I deserve and I am lucky to be married to someone who places such high value on my happiness.

And so we have lived the last year with Paris on the horizon. And occasionally we have talked about what it would be like move there part-time or maybe even permanently. When we talk about Paris, about our potential life there together, I feel a combination of excitement at the unknown opportunities and adventures and a longing for the comfort I imagine I would feel, in some strange way, to be home.

More than a holiday this September, we are approaching our trip to Paris as a chance to really think about the city from the perspective of possible residents. Obviously, I already have our Paris lives perfectly planned out...

My husband will become a hugely successful, internationally sought-after stylist for Toni & Guy and will eventually travel Europe as one of their top instructors and platform artists. I will obtain my Masters in French literature from Universite de la Sorbonne and then be offered a job there as a professor. In our spare time, we will picnic in jardin du Luxembourg on baguette sandwiches and confiture d'abricot straight from the jar, we will bicker about who will do the grocery shopping, and we will learn to speak perfect French. And I will finally publish my Paris love story as told by a Canadian. This is the Paris life I want.

I have to be careful though not to want Paris too badly and not, as I already do, think about Paris too much. Paris weighs heavy in both my heart and in my imagination. Because of this, I also need to think of our September trip as a way of my reestablishing Paris of what it is mostly meant to be; a city so beautiful, so inspiring and so rich that it is once in a lifetime. I need to consider letting go of Paris and shutting the door on what is likely a far too grandiose Parisian fantasy.

What would Paris think?


Licette NJ How said...

No no no no no no no no no no - a thousand times. You can't - you are not allowed to- that is all there is. End of discussion finito I will not countenance it.

Must talk - we are home but G is very sick with nasty cough and in bed.

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

Never give up on your dreams...they will sustain you through much that life hands out.
Horses are very sister has one and used to have she boards another in her barn to keep the other company!
Annual trips to Paris sound so lovely...home ownership does have it's benefits but it can tie one down when travel plans crop up...
My toast has been spread liberally with Bonne Maman apricot jam and that is about as close to Paris as I get!
September is not far off!!

Maradair said...

If Paris could talk it would say --- Dreams! Gotta have 'em, gotta keep 'em, gotta keep striving for them.

En francais of course!