Here I sit, in our yard, typing on my computer, outside in the shade of a stone wall built in the 1760's, thinking about my relationship to where I have come from and where I am now. It's a great luxury to have the time and mental space to think and read and wonder about things. I was afraid that I had somehow lost access to my Self and my personality with our dramatic move, but it turns out that it just took me a month to come back to feeling like myself. Here's Pierre in the same spot.
The move, the change, and not having my old stuff around has cleared out some of the clutter in my mind and makes it possible for me to approach doing and thinking about things that I wanted to do before but there was too much in the way. I used to say that if we didn't move to France, I would have moved us out of our house and back in, instead here we are!
We have known that we wanted to experience living here since our second or third trip together, almost 15 years ago. Each time we came to France, trying to get over here once a year a month, we explored a new area or two with the thought of making the move. We would find a village we liked and I would say "who would be my friends here?" and we would imagine what we would eat and actually DO there. Answer: hang out at Chez Max, a cafe in the family home of Max Jacob in Quimper, owned by our new friends!
For Pierre it was to be a kind of homecoming, having been surgically removed from Paris at the age of 10, and for me it would be a way to live inside an ancient culture that either invented or developed the things I love most -- food, fashion, perfume, furniture, gold leafed trim on buildings, joie de vivre, l'amour, pastry! -- you know the drill.
We had the chance to live in Brittany for 6 months in 2006, when Pierre taught at an American art school and I took a break from everything, reading, cooking, relaxing and learning more French from The Nanny dubbed on TV, while Pierre fell in love with the region that helped to transform his work. He had never lived within this kind of nature, walking daily through the Bois d'Amour, a forest that had inspired tons of other painters, rain or shine, while I loved its reminder of where I grew up in New York, playing in the forest.
Last year our lives in LA changed dramatically when Pierre's beloved mother died in her 90's, after living in LA for over 50 years and we decided to take the chance. Why? Because we could, and we were still young enough to handle it! And because we both wanted to shake up our lives, having become alternately complacent and numb as we watched LA transform from the backwater it had been to a thriving metropolis that represents an American Dream that had lost some its lustre for us. When I moved there in 1983, it was a welcome respite from the claustrophobia and constant jockeying for position in New York, the implicit need to be moving forward, onto the new thing, jetisoning most the old things I had loved about it.
Yesterday I discovered (thanks to the Internet -- which took 3 weeks to get, but that's another story-- I can live in a village and follow the trails of friend's recommendations and books I've liked and get them instantly) Luc Sante's Kill All Your Darlings. He talks about everthing I was thinking and feeling in NY when it started to change irrevocably in 1980, with the advent of money and power triggered by Reagan's election. He says "(We) had no interest in power. We just wanted power to go away." which is still true for me, as a creative professional, I only really want to have the power over my own life and work.
For the time being Pierre has processed a lot of his self questioning and missing home, and I feel placed in our new environment, shopping for food, cooking and eating and reading (gosh that sounds boring but it's not yet), waiting for our TV to be delivered, and also for our 60 cartons from home. Yes, it's still home over there, but it's home here too, we accomplished a kind of alchemy with our move, which I knew I couldn't look ahead to when we just closed our eyes, held our noses and jumped.
Next up, more about where we live (including photo albums), commentaries from Pierre, and about the food, natch!