August 8, 2014

The Point Of No Return

Trois Fromages

A fellow expat friend and I were talking over drinks and nibbles the other night and out of the blue she asked me if I ever thought about moving back to the States.
I sat there for a minute, like a deer caught in the headlights, trying to come up with a response.

Of course, I think about it.
But would I ever really consider it?

We've worked hard over the years to live here and there are many things I love and take for granted in France.
  • fabulous, inexpensive healthcare and doctors and nurses who make house calls 
  • 600 + kinds of cheese!
  • unpasteurized, hand churned salt butter
  • amazing AOC wine from more regions than I can count
  • efficient train travel (unless there's a strike...)
  • numerous European countries at our doorstep
  • inexpensive monthly internet and phone packages
  • weekly outdoor markets with fresh, local produce 

  • the café culture
  • long Sunday lunches
  • diverse regional cuisine
  • flaky, buttery croissants
  • a more relaxed pace of life
  • the history, art and architecture

  • Normandy

    On the other hand, there are many things I do miss!

  • family and friends, of course
  • stores open on a Sunday afternoon in case I need a last minute ingredient for dinner
  • hot sauce. So many kinds of hot sauce.
  • cheap fuel
  • not having to worry about having exact change
  • Dairy Queen (yes, I love Peanut Buster Parfaits - don't judge)
  • no foreign language mix-ups
  • long, wide stretches of empty beach
  • drive through banking
  • Trader Joe's (and its amazing selection of salsas)

  • Trader Joe's

    A Day on the Beach in California

  • a life free of endless paperwork
  • drivers who respect others (of course this is debatable, depending on where you live
  • not having to mentally and emotionally prepare myself every time I need to return something
  • having my groceries bagged up for me
  • good bagels
  • Mexican food

  • Three of my favorite things: chips, salsa and a margarita

    After thinking about her question some more on the train home to Normandy the next day, I realized that after 11½ years, a quarter of my life, I think we've reached the point of no return. We chose to change our lives and move to France and have managed to make it work despite the bureaucratic challenges and other headaches. We've learned to be more patient, flexible and very determined.
    There has also been a huge emotional investment. We have put down roots here.
    France is home.

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    JimRuocco said...

    What a beautifully written, compassionate piece. Thank you for sharing

    bonnie poppe said...

    I have been here five years, which is a very small percent of my life. However, I agree almost 100% with your list of good and bad. Mostly I miss mexican food and my friends. And Trader Joe's! I was living in San Diego, and driving is I think worse there, just too many people and no organization. I'm not leaving either!
    bonnie in Languedoc

    Dvora said...

    I live in Spain where one does not have the pleasure of 600 different kinds of cheese, but I'm with you. If you move to another country, learn as much of the language and culture as you can, invest yourself, it makes sense that it becomes your home. I have no plans to return to the US either (even if the drivers are so much better!).

    Tim Dudek said...

    I have often considered trying to expat to France, that's why I read blogs like yours. But as I sit here eating my delicious torta I realize what a huge loss not having good mexican food would be. Perhaps I'll move to Mexico instead

    dejavucook said...

    I love your post. The slower you go the more you get done. Enjoy.

    Joy said...

    We are in countdown mode to return home to Canada from a stint in The Netherlands, but, this was only ever temporary for us. I can't wait to go home.

    However, we lived in France for 8 months almost five years ago, and really gave thought to staying. I can understand why you choose France as home! I wish you well. :)

    Madame M said...

    I think there is a time when one reconsiders the expat lifestyle as you age and have family crises. For example, aging parents, a spouse who is very ill, losing a spouse, or being unable to deal with the language and culture issues alone in a seniors residence. This is made more complex if you have no children or they live in another country. My point - never say never!

    Frank Jive said...

    Today's post moved me on several levels. Thank you for putting across your decision, feelings, and reasoning so well. It's probably just a fantasy dream for me to relocate to FR at this point in my life, but I'm glad somebody did it! I live in San Diego, and, Bonnie, I bet French drivers couldn't be as bad as those here at the beach . . . and Tim, tortas or no, I think I would trade 'em and not look back!

    Maggie said...

    A wonderful post. Lovely to read about what you love and miss....we're signing the papers for our french house next week so wish us luck! X

    Holly Bruns said...

    So inspiring!

    EuroMom said...

    Lovely post!

    Vannessa@Luxuria said...

    Fabulous post. I love how you appreciate so much about both countries. So often expats have nothing good to say about their own country and can only extol the virtues of their new country. I lived in Spain for 13 years and returned to the UK to look after my sick Dad. I never thought I would return to the UK. But when I did return I realized I was no longer the same person as when I left, and that evolution has helped me slot right back in to my home country :-)

    Jennifer Greco said...

    Thank you for such a nice comment!

    I'm happy to hear that you're enjoying your life in France as much as we are. Take care!

    "Invest yourself." That is so important! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Jennifer Greco said...

    If you do move to Mexico, may we visit you and enjoy the delicious food?

    Glad you enjoyed reading it. Thanks for your nice comment!

    France, like any place, has good and bad aspects. But we feel very content here and focus on the good.
    Good luck with your move home to Canada!

    Jennifer Greco said...

    Madame M
    It's good to never say never. And always remember that one has options.

    I know some people thought we were crazy when we moved, but it has been one of the best decisions we ever made.
    San Diego is a pretty great place to be though!

    Wishing you the best of luck!

    Jennifer Greco said...

    Being the wine lover that you are, I hope you get to visit France from time to time. :)

    Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it!

    I love hearing that you were able to return home with a new view on things and that the transition wasn't difficult. Thanks for your comment!

    Caroline Silk said...

    I haven't posted before....
    Congrats to you...I'm more than a little bit jealous and happily live vicariously through yours and other Francophiles posts......

    Mlle Paradis said...

    lucky you. still a dream for me. nowhere is perfect. just watched "Kings of Pastry" about the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France competitions. I would move to France for the crusty baguettes and buttercream alone. and the legion of grown men crying over shattered sugar sculptures....priorities! (wink)

    Ken Broadhurst said...

    Hi Jennifer, I miss Mexican and Louisiana hot sauces too — not to mention North Carolina's Texas Pete products. I always bring back half a dozen bottles of one kind or another when I make my annual trip to the U.S. There are at least two Mexican groceries in my home town.

    Do you know this site in France? You might want to buy Mexican products on line...

    Jennifer Greco said...

    Thank you!
    Having thoughts about moving too? :)

    Mlle Paradis
    I loved that film, but it totally stressed me out! I had to turn it off a couple of times to catch my breath.

    Jennifer Greco said...

    Our friend from New Orleans just came over with 5 bottles of Crystal hot sauce and peanut butter. It was very appreciated! :)
    Thanks so much for the link, I had never heard of that one. I will be checking them out.

    Mardi Michels said...

    I read this post when it first was published but was not able to comment (crappy Internet - does this surprise you?!) - but what a beautifully written piece. Good for you two for making this choice and yes, it's hard work (many people don't realise how much) but all worth it in the end. Profitez-en, as they say! XO

    Jamie said...

    I agree with each and every point. I have lived here since 1987 (with 6 1/2 of those years in Italy) and although I never thought I would be saying this but I have just gotten to the point where I would love to move back to the States. My French husband as well. I think it is because the balance between the advantages (healthcare, food, calm) and the disadvantages has shifted. I would love for my husband to work a few years in the States to see how it is and frankly I wouldn't mind being in a country where I actually understand the people. And have a social life (and am not seen as a "good person but not one of us"). But, for all that, we will stay here... for the healthcare, the retirement benefits and the food. Oh and put the "driving distance to so many fascinating European countries" at the top of my list.

    Jennifer Greco said...

    Thank you. :)
    No, most people don't realize how much work it can be! But it is worth it. xx

    Just last year, during my annual visit to the US, was the first time I felt like I could live there again. Before that, every time I was there, I felt like a fish out of water. Now I'm finally comfortable in both places.
    Though I do miss having French friends who understand my sense of humor!
    Thanks for your comment. :)