I dream about France a lot — usually Paris. Sometimes I get confused about what I’ve dreamed and what I’ve lived it’s present so much in my subconscious. We thought we may move there once a few years ago. It’s a long story that ended with my mom relieved and Brian and me bitterly disappointed. I still think a lot about moving there, we both do. I have terribly unbecoming pangs of envy when I hear about Americans who are living there, especially those writing for a living, and *especially* those writing about food for a living.
So what’s to keep us from doing it? (Aside from all the things that actually are keeping us from doing it, that is?) We don’t have kids, not that that need stop anyone, but it’s certainly less to uproot should we decide to move across an ocean. Neither of our families live in the same city, so we see them only a few times a year as it is. I have a little bit of French — a pitiful amount really when you think of the years I spent studying and conjugating, but I could get us by until we learned more.
So why not seriously just do it? We may yet, but I wonder about the difference in dreaming it and living it. I know the difference in dreaming of travel to a place and the reality of being there. Alain de Botton explains it beautifully in The Art of Travel — part of it is that we are still who we are, no matter our locale. Our petty worries and little unhappinesses travel right there within us.
My real fear is that the living will destroy the dream of living there. My dreams mix up the best of rural, Provencal France with the best of Parisian life. And obviously in both dreams money is not a concern. In real life, we’d have to pick one or the other and would be worried always about having enough euros. In daydreams I’d eat baguettes and oozy cheese every day, shop at the markets with a little basket and cook fabulous meals with amazing ingredients. In real life we’d likely be in an apartment half the size of our current house where we already get on each other’s nerves trying to work together in the kitchen. We could be pressed for time and have to go the a supermarche instead of the street markets. My French would not be sufficient for more than ‘one of this’ or ‘one of that’ making meal shopping a trying and frustrating experience. I’d get huffy about the subway being crowded, and be dismayed when the weather was grey.
It makes me sad to think of losing the daydream of living in France to the bureaucracy and boring details found in the reality of day to day life in a foreign culture. But not so much so that I’ll stop daydreaming that someday, we will just do it.