The Frogmarch

"I've got to pull up my stakes and roll, man." --Jean-Jacques Libris de Kerouac

Monday, June 09, 2008

A Case of Positionin' the Feet in the Shoes

Put yourself in V.'s shoes for a moment (they are very stylish but impractical and uncomfortable).

You've been living in France with your husband and two young sons for two and a half years.

You put yourself through grad school, built a private practice, and became a local expert in your specialty, but you cannot legally work in France, and your US practice license is going to expire unless you stack some CME credits pronto.

You live in a place famed for its quality of life--relaxing at caf├ęs and whatnot--but you spend all of your time doing laundry, changing poopy diapers, and riding the bus clear out to St. Foy and back to pick up your son from the only school in the area that doesn't recall Lord of the Flies.

You live within a few blocks of some of the finest restaurants in France but you have to schedule with the babysitter six weeks in advance if you want to go eat at one of them on a Saturday night, because your babysitter has an infinitely more interesting and active social life than you do.

Your apartment is fabulous but there's no air conditioning and no storage, and the elevator quits working in June and stays that way until September (like the rest of the French).

You've seen Venice and Paris and Madrid and the Riviera and the Alps and, um, Manchester; you've walked the flagstones of silent cloisters and soaring cathedrals, plucked grapes from Burgundy vineyards, and watched the sun sink into the Mediterranean; you've seen Monet's garden, Chagall's grave, and Van Gogh's asylum; you've shopped at Hermes and Dior and Vuitton; right now, you'd settle for a place where people are nice to you before they've seen the color of your credit card.

Your husband is basically a good guy but sometimes he just has no idea how, in this country and in this language, to get a part for the washing machine or how to ask why your renter's insurance rate suddenly jumped or whether it's normal to get two gas bills each month, and sometimes he just flings down the day's mail in frustration and stands staring out the window.

You never thought you'd miss working, but you do.

Most impoartantly, you have a lot of people you care about back home who are living, dying, getting married, having babies, laughing, crying; you share in this only through forwarded e-mails with jpegs attached, and the cruelest words, "wish you could have been here."

How do those shoes fit? Would you keep them on, or would you trade them for ruby slippers, click your heels together and say "There's no place like home"?

V. has chosen the ruby slippers.

In about 5 weeks, in mid-July, she and the boys are moving back to our house in Chapel Hill for good. I will accompany them for 3 weeks of my vacation, then return to work here in Lyon to continue working. For how long, I don't know; not forever. Until I can find a suitable job back in the States and preferably in North Carolina.

The Frogmarch will soldier on (at the very least, expect more frequent posts once I suddenly have a lot more time on my hands).

More to come.


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