Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sabbactical in France

Just after Nina’s first birthday we decided to live in France. Jacques was traveling practically every week and was both mentally and physically exhausted. Both of us had almost lost track of which country he was in. I had found life empty after my best friend had gone to study in Denmark, taking with her Marc’s closest friend, Jonas. The local park seemed empty, the city parks lonely and my usual zest for life was fading fast. The playgroups that I still attended twice a week bored me stiff and I felt my daily communication was limited to mummy-small-talk and chatting to a two-year-old and a baby.

While spending Christmas in France we had visited several houses that were being renovated by Jacques and his three brothers. His younger brother, Jean, had bought a small two-bedroom house in a hamlet near Jacques’ parents. He intended to let it to a young family or couple. It was nearly finished and he said that we could borrow it until it was ready to rent out. There was no heating as such and the bathroom was only half-done and not yet tiled but at least there was a decent kitchen and a washing machine, and we would have a garden and space to play. In return we would help tile the bathroom, varnish the woodwork, paint it and smarten it up.

I was looking forward to being able to practice my French more, I had enjoyed chatting to Soraya and her family and I was sick of struggling with my basic German, which never seemed to improve. Although I had researched trilingual families for my dissertation and knew it could work, seeing Marc’s delayed talking had shaken me and I wished for a simpler linguistic combination of French/English. I was also keen to have Marc and Nina hear more French and to see life in France for themselves. As a bonus we had two cousins of similar age waiting for us and a third one was on the way. It seemed a ideal choice for short-term gap from expatriate life. We called it our ‘sabbatical’.

So Jacques resigned from his job and I said goodbye to the mummies from the park and playgroups. We hugged Soraya and her two daughters goodbye. Jacques father came from France with a hired van to transport all our furniture and off we went, waving goodbye as we drove past to the mountains, the brown cows, the cute villages and the country where Nina was born….

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Bonjour Suzanne,

I'm delighted to find your blog--I got your book earlier this summer and am eager to read it! I've enjoyed reading your stories on your blog and hope you'll continue to update it with your family's adventures, linguistic and otherwise. Please visit my blog and share your wisdom if you get the chance!