Friday, February 21, 2014

non, je ne regrette rien


It's a funny thing, regret. Personally I try to live my life without it. Not that I don't have any, of course I do (Boy could I tell you some stories!), but I try to live my life without dwelling on them. I don't see the point. We live, we learn, we move on.

That said, I do have a few regrets about my time in France; some big (like having a gaping four year gap in my career... this is what keeps me awake at night) and lots little. The little stuff is basically made up of things that I wish I had gone out and done and seen, but I always thought I had more time. That's the thing about being my type of expat (as in an expat married to a local, type), I was here, like here-here. I wasn't on a work assignment or a visa for a definite window of time, I lived here, indefinitely, and for all I knew I could have been here for the rest of my life, so there was always 'later' or 'the next long weekend'.

For instance, I haven't been to Versailles. Ver-freaking-sailles! Four years in France and I haven't seen the Hall of Mirrors or those legendary whirly, twirly gardens. That's definitely on the list for a future visit. I've never been to Bordeaux or Champagne either. Me never being to those two places is like a nun having never been to church.

I've always wanted to see ASM Clermont play a match at home. I've seen them play against Toulon in Marseille before but I'm sure that's nothing compared to watching them run out onto the pitch at Stade Marcel-Michelin, cheered on by the massive Yellow Army. I'm sad I've missed out on that.

I've never been to Barcelona. I'm sure a bunch of you are thinking, "wrong country", but Barcelona is only a five hour drive from The LPV... it's closer than going to French Maman's house. And Geneva, Switzerland is only four hours away, Pisa, Italy only six... AARRGGHH! I should really stop doing this to myself; squirting lemon juice in a paper cut would be less painful.

So sure, I missed out on loads, but what I didn't miss out on was life. I've lived everyday life in Le Petit Village... I've made friends with my postman, boulanger and boucher. The barman always greets me with a kiss (of course he does) and the lady in the épicerie can finally understand my accent. Maybe I can't cross off cities on my bucketlist, but I can cross off 'being a French girl in a French village' and that's pretty darn special.



Bisous!

35 comments:

  1. Boo, I totally commented on your last post too, but they aren't showing up for some reason. To summarise: I think that's a problem common to all expats, except perhaps if you really have a short fixed term stay. But as you say, you're getting a much richer & more authentic experience at least!

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  2. Oh, I feel your pain, Sarah! After two years in the Netherlands and having seen A LOT I also regret not having made to some places that I will probably never see during a holiday (like the Frisian Islands), but that's life I guess. I did and see as much as I could but free time and extra money aren't unlimited resources.

    Also, now that I'm in Switzerland and I have been looking for a job for almost half a year I'm started to fear a big career gap - and that also keeps me awake at night. But one way or the other, I'm sure that everything will eventually be fine :)

    Have a nice weekend and good luck with your move! xo

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    1. p.s. *Sara, (so sorry for the typo on your name)

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  3. Ah, I totally understand! It is so hard to do it all and still have a life - but at the end of your days I don't think that not seeing the leaning tower is going to keep you up at night, instead you will be full of wonderful memories spent with people not places!

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  4. I'm an expert at saying "I'll do that sometime soon", and then never actually getting around to it. I was just saying to someone less than an hour ago how I feel that it's been so so long since I've been anywhere new (or just someplace that wasn't visiting family - mine or my boyfriend's). I'm getting the itch.

    I went to Versailles as part of an organized trip back in 2005. All I really wanted to see was the Hall of Mirrors, and it was CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS! I was so upset. And yet, I've been in France for almost 7 years now and still haven't made it back. It doesn't help that I also really hate crowds.

    And I hear you on the gaps in the CV thing. Scares the hell out of me. It's pretty much the only thing keeping me in my Masters from hell program. If I drop out, I don't know how I'd explain the two years and not finishing it thing.

    -Shannon

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  5. I understand exactly what you are saying but you will be back some time and you will have Versailles etc to look forward to. I remember my year in France which had an end date and I tried to pack everything in but the important part was making friends, speaking French and just living in France.
    'We live, we learn, we move on' - I really like that - must remember that one!

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  6. I feel ya. No matter how much you do, you'll never have done everything!

    Best of luck on getting everything together for your move!

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  7. All those are just places that will be there. You are so right, you lived life as a French girl in a French village - that's way more special than taking a cheesy photo holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

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  8. it's so hard to do it all! I lived in London for nearly a year so it was good in a sense because it forced me to do some things because I was on a timeline. but I also wish I had stayed even longer and been able to soak up the local stuff. now you have plans for future visits!
    -- jackie - jade and oak

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  9. Sometimes it's better knowing you have a timescale, just like jackie jade says, but then what you have had is priceless and the stories are so much more than a fleeting visit in the hall of mirrors. Plus, as we always say, you've got to leave some things for the next time otherwise what will you do when you come back.
    I have the same attitude and I hope when we leave la semi-grande ville I will be able to do the same!

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  10. I totally get the regret thing. . I regret many things that we/I did not do, see or experience in the years we lived in Argentina .. but those pale in the regrets one might have when faced with loss.
    So my thoughts on regret these days are to remember it every day .. remind yourself to make this day one that you will have no regrets about.

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  11. Hi! Sorry, but I did not understand what you said about Barcelona: "I'm sure a bunch of you are thinking, "wrong country"-----What did you mean?
    Gracias,
    María, Spaniard...

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    1. I just meant that it's not in France. A lot of people probably might not realize how close Barcelona and Spain actually is to me here in Le Petit Village - it's closer than Paris!

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  12. i can relate to that but you did and saw and experienced so much I am sure. there is always a visit and trip back to those amazing places! :)

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  13. Yes, being there and experiencing all those things was more important. There are lots of things I didn't see when I lived in England for several years so I understand. I've realized that even on vacation, I'd rather get a feel for the place and the people than check tourist spots off a list. And remember that you'll be back.

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  14. So special! I'm not sure whether I like being on a time scale or not. It does force me to get out and see things, but I hardly ever feel relaxed!

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  15. It's always hard to not focus on certain things that you're regretful of - but you've done SO much. And this way, you and Gregory can totally take a vacation to Barca - I mean, it's only right :)

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  16. My favorite use of that song was a Tour de France ad in the US a few years back. Slow motion cyclists, blood and sweat dripping down their faces and Edith's voice singing "Non, rien de rien..." It was perfection. (ps. It's going to be weird when you're no longer posting from the LPV, but I hope you keep us up on your voyage and adventures!)

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  17. I guess you always have to miss out on some things. But there really is nothing to feel sorry about. And I mean, you can still visit Barcelona at some point. Or do other things you did not find the time for yet. You rock, so don't worry about anything.

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  18. This post made me sad. And then it made me happy. And now I'm sitting here feeling all nostalgic and wanting to go back to Europe. There is always something that we end up missing, but the nice thing is that now you just have excuses to come back!

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  19. I know how you feel about not feeling as though you took advantage of time because you were semi-permanently in France. But trust me, even if you went away every freaking weekend there would still be places you wish you had made time for. Thus is life. And yes, becoming a real french girl in a real french city is definitely a pretty big deal! Versailles will always be there ;)

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  20. I totally understand that feeling..albeit 3 years in Brussels and I constantly thought I wasn't experiencing enough, but, I was truly integrated into my life there and that is something many many many people will never experience. Living in a small french village? certainly a priceless experience :)

    P.S. If you get museum overload at all, then you definitely will at Versailles. It's impossible to really see it all as it is just massive and overwhelming. Still worth a visit, though.

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  21. Yes, it's funny, a finite timeframe makes you cram so much more into a place than you were ever normally do at 'home'. The 6 months I was working in South Africa I did an insane list of things I never imagined I'd do! Still, at least you have many reasons to go back to France, so you get another shot at it :o)

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  22. Holy cow, this is what I get for taking a hiatus from blogs. Your moving. I've got to back track to catch up. Good luck with the move. And I agree, I look back at my five yrs in Beijing and four years in Indonesia and realize there places I didn't visit, but I lived the local life, made local friendships, and thats priceless!
    Cortne

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  23. Isn't it funny how we would always want to go to far away places to see things and go on adventures, but we do forget that the area we live in or things close-by are just as amazing and adventurious, too? I've lived in an area in Germany for 7 years - and only when I moved away I realized I had pretty much missed out on most historical or beautiful places to visit right around my home. I try to learn from it and visit a lot of places around home now :)
    Like you said - you do have a wonderful life though and experienced so many wonderful things, you can still go and see those famous places - and even if you don't - the friendships you made and the people you met will make much greater memories than the places you've seen :)
    Very inspiring post! Have a wonderful weekend!

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  24. Like lots of people have said, your time becoming "French" was probably more priceless and adventurous than visiting tourist sites...and if you HAD done those things there would always be another thing to wish you had done. No, you spent time with your friends, with your lovely hubby, your French family, making links that can't be broken: if you'd been away every weekend cramming "visiting places" into your life you would have missed out on the "living" and the "being". Which is what you can never get from being on holiday in a place.

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  25. Versailles: forget it! The last several times I attempted to see the palace there were 50 Chinese busloads of tourists in front of me.

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  26. Don't worry about the gap in your career. Add it to your resume as "immersed yourself in the French culture, learning the language and gaining an understanding of ..."

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  27. I totally get that - it isn't til I have visitors here in Canada that I see more of it and remember how cool it is!

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  28. You'll probably see more as a visitor than you even did as a resident. It's just the way it seems to work!

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  29. Love this post and your advice about dropping regret - we live, we learn and we move on. Beautifully said. The Piaf clip is priceless, btw.

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  30. I can't even comment on this because I have so many happy/sad thoughts so I just shared the link on Twitter. I hope that's okay.

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  31. I can really relate in that I didn't explore as many places close by as I wish I had when we were in each of our locations, but what can you do about it! No reason to throw lemon juice on that wound! ;)
    I hope you enjoy and savor these last few days in the LPV!!

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  32. WOW - I had no idea. Massive catching up on your blog now. Hope the move goes smoothly and that the goodbyes haven't been too tearful xxx

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