Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The tangibles (and intangibles) of an international move

The first time it really hit me that I was moving back to the US, I was in the check-out line at my local grocery store. I was buying meat and ice cream for that night. Then I had this wild, crazy thought: in the US, I'll have a fridge taller than me! With a freezer! I'll no longer have to consume things like meat and ice cream the day of! And I couldn't help this manic grin creeping across my face.

I may not consider myself the most patriotic American, but there are numerous things I love about the US, and not just giant fridge/freezers. It's also my home, where I was born and raised, and without even realizing it, many of my opinions and expectations have been formed by that. How could they not?

Yet this past weekend was a short trip to Paris. Yes, I have been traveling a lot lately! Not so much to do a whistle-stop tour of Europe before I leave (though that's been a nice side-benefit), but to spend some final precious days with friends before I live much farther away.

Anyway, I was in Paris, in the lobby of the Musee d'Orsay, when my friend got an emergency phone call from work. She spoke rapid French into her cell, and I leaned against a front desk and thought about that Renoir painting, Bal du Moulin de la Galette. In person it makes you feel like one of the crowd, like if you fell forward, you would fall inside the painting, find yourself spinning in some suited stranger's arms, dancing through the park. And amongst the incredible art, the rush of French, the Seine in the distance, it occurred to me that there are some things I'll miss about living in Europe.


But not to worry! This morning it's 55 and pouring rain in Bristol. My mini British fridge is empty, so I have to go grocery shopping--and no car, so that means hauling my groceries home, uphill, through the rain. And once again, I'm looking forward to the move. It's the tangibles that make it real for me--whereas it's the intangibles, the atmosphere, the culture, and of course, my friends, that I'm not sure will feel like real losses until they're very far away.

18 comments:

  1. oooh - I <3 the MuseƩ d'Orsay!

    Sounds like you had a great weekend (and maybe you heard more interesting stories too? ;-))

    I've done two international moves with three other moves mixed in, in a period of 4 years. oh the upheaval! But so worth it in the end when you end up in a new place with new opportunities.

    Elisabeth

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    1. Thanks, Elisabeth! I'm going to keep holding on to that hope it might all be worth it!

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  2. Your heart will always be every place you've lived, as they all become 'the places you're from.' (Music: The Beatles' IN MY LIFE just wiggled in...)
    Speaking from experience.

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    1. So very true. I've been thinking about that a lot lately. I'm no longer only an American...

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  3. We do have fridges and freezers in the UK, you know!
    I'm looking forward to reading your reports of repatriation - I found it the strangest process,but great for creativity, as I saw familiar things through new eyes.

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    1. Hah! I understand people here have cars as well! Just my crazy life! ;)

      Ohhh, here's hoping repatriation will be fruitful for me, too! I already know the amount of things thrown away is going to drive me NUTS.

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  4. Ooh, travel is such fun! I haven't gone to Paris yet. It's on my to-go list... after Italy, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, London, Spain, and New Zealand. And Australia.

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    1. That is the good thing about travel--always more to see!

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  5. First, I love that painting and have felt the exact same way (through reproductions, no less) so can only imagine the depth of emotion upon seeing the original.

    Second, yeah, the intangibles get me with every move. The people, the places, the relationships. It's a difficult season until the new people, the new places, the new relationships take root.

    Third, a mini-fridge? Really? Like college dorm fridge? Well. . .I guess that keeps you slim, trim, and on first name basis with your grocery store clerks. :)

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    1. Ohhh, I'm so glad to find someone else who gets my love for that Renoir painting! I really hope you do get to see it in person some day, Bridgette. It's quite big, so would be quite easy to fall into. Other than security guards and alarm systems, I suppose. ;)

      So nice to talk about moves with people who get it! The last two (to Bristol and Chicago) it took a really long time to establish new relationships. I really hope this one is a bit easier.

      It's a little bigger than a college dorm fridge (it has three shelves), but yeah. It HAS been good for fitness. I miss ice cream a lot, but I'm also dreading the ability to stock it 24-7! And now that you mention it, I do have a lovely grocery store clerk who loves to chat about old American movies with me. ;)

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  6. I know you will miss living in Europe. What a opportunity though.

    I hope that you're feeling better. :)

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    1. Yeah, I wouldn't trade that for anything! In fact, I'd love to go back some day.

      I am feeling better, thanks! Now if I could just figure out how to avoid massive coughing fits at inopportune moments... ;)

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  7. I've never gone through an international move, but my oldest daughter just bought a home and will be moving out in the next couple of weeks. So we are all going round and round with conflicting emotion: hating to see her go, but being so proud and happy for her. Trying my best to enjoy all the positives right now.

    In your case, weekly shopping trips would be a big positive for me. Oh how I hate going to the stores.

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    1. Sounds like a very similar dance of emotions, Ruth!

      Thankfully I don't mind the shopping too much, unless it's pouring!

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  8. Oh, my, Paris sounds lovely! All those wonderful travel experiences will stay with you and enrich your writing.

    Re: the Renoir--at Grounds For Sculpture in NJ, they have tableaus of famous paintings--I especially loved Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party. You actually can step in and mingle with the people in the painting!

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    1. Ruth! Grounds for Sculpture sounds AWESOME! I need to go! Now! Thanks so much for sharing this with me!

      First Paris, next stop, NJ. hehehe. ;)

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  9. I always wanted that striped dress in the foreground. Looks like it'd be hell to iron, but I'd have it done up in rayon so it wouldn't need it.

    Just wait 'til you get a close-up of the politics back home. You'll think you're back in Parliament!

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  10. Always good to have a plan, in case some fashion designer calls you up and says, "I'd LOVE to make you the dress from that Renoir painting." ;)

    Oh, I'm gearing all up for the politics back home--looking forward to casting my vote in the MA senate race! ;)

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