Taking French Leave
You reach a certain age. Your only child has been safely guided to manhood and is now busy drinking his way through his junior freshman year. For the first time in 18 years you are free to go out any night you choose until whatever hour you choose, without fear of setting a bad example (because the horse has clearly bolted on that one). But the lease is up on your rented house. The country is in recession. And you don’t have the energy to go anywhere anyway. At least, not anywhere on this gloom-sodden island where bad news has been a long-running serial for some time now.
I stopped driving 10 minutes ago to write this message. I am nearing Orleans, south of Paris, and still have several hours motoring to do before laying my head on some hotel pillow. Yes, reader, I took control. Manoeuvered my way out of the cul-de-sac and turned around to follow the dream that has been chasing me for decades.
All my worldly goods, barring the tons of luggage currently weighing down my car, are now settling in to a storage crate somewhere near Naas; my son has settled in to his father’s household; the meters have been read and bills will be paid, and the post redirected. And, yes, of course I will miss my son in a way that will be beyond painful at times. But that was beginning to happen anyway, in the natural way of growth and independence that is his due. Having embraced independent living myself before becoming a mother, I now need to re-learn how to live a solo life and to pay some attention to my own aspirations, given that the imperative to ‘provide’ is nearing an end.
And so, the decision to move to France for six months. To write, to read, to explore, to learn French, to become immersed in a different culture. Extensive research threw up a fisherman’s cottage in Collioure, on the Mediterranean coast, about 25k from the Spanish border. Collioure is famed for it’s quality of light, which attracted the likes of Picasso and Matisse to live and paint there. I will be paying less rent than I was paying in Dublin so, once travel expenses have been paid, life should be a whole lot cheaper.
It’s a very long drive from one end of France to the other but it does have the effect of getting you into the mood. And the light is already brighter.