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Secret Life of a Nerd Girl: So It’s Official, I’m Moving to France


a blogumn by Gudrun Cram-Drach

ng13So, it’s official, I’m moving to France. I just bought 2 plane tickets, so I can go there for a month, come back for a visa, then return, hopefully forever. My credit card is still sizzling. I’m doing this not only because I want live in France, but because in the time that I have been falling for France, I’ve been falling for a particular person in France, and now that we are both deeply entrenched, being together is far more important than where we live. For now, we will live in France. I’m going off on an adventure and settling down all at the same time.

When I was in my 20s and planning voyages to exotic developing countries, grown-ups nodded sagely and said it was good to travel now, because once I get married and start a family—awkward grimace—I won’t be able to do what I want anymore (somebody really did say it that way). I know this isn’t entirely true, those with super-wanderlust will build their lives to accommodate it, rugrats in tow or solo, but I think the average person with the average desire to see the world wishes they had done more of it before they settled down.

Now I am at the age when many of my peers are doing just that, settling down. Getting married and pregnant. Buying houses in good school districts. Returning to the states they grew up in, so the grandparents can help with child care. People from my childhood are coming back to my hometown. We’ve gone on our post-collegiate adventures, lived in New York and/or California, and now we’re partnered up and looking for a nice place to live, and we realize (in spite of how dreadfully bored we were in high school) that our parents were right, and life in Maine really is “the way life should be.” (I always dreaded the day when I actually believed that, because I knew it would mean that I’m old. Sigh.)
As an extended layover between the end of my life in Los Angeles and the beginning of my new life in France, the visit to Maine (that I am still on) has always been just that, a visit. But I am living here and I’ve become involved in the place. When I arrived in December, everything was new. I had to reacquaint myself, to start over and find my footing. But 5 months is long enough to get attached, and it is going to hurt a bit when I leave in May and start over yet again. Am I getting too old for this sh*t?

Now granted, there is a love interest waiting to pick me up at the airport, someone with whom I hope to stay until death parts us, or however that goes, so I am settling down, but at the same time I am starting over. Learning new subway maps, finding friends, abandoning my native tongue, figuring out how to stay reasonably thin on a diet of baguette and brie, and hopefully continuing the career I started when, six years ago, I started over in Los Angeles.

A piece of me wonders if there comes a time when, or if we should stop starting over. It seems like everybody does it at one time or another. Stops the madness of the extended adolescence we live in, now that 40 is the new 30. Live fast, die young — so now is it, live slow, die old? I know that settling down does not necessarily remove international adventures from one’s future, nor do kids, but it seems to be more the norm that starting a family means stopping starting over.

I do feel like this has always been my, dare I cheese out and say, destiny? As if I always knew I would live in Europe. I keep remembering little details of my life that prove this is so. But I could say that about any path I took, right? If I decided to settle in Memphis and marry a rock-a-billy guitarist, I might be reminded of all the things in my life that led me to that point…the guitar I bought in 7th grade, the, um… well I have no idea what they would be, but I’m sure it would come to me if that was my path.

While I am thrilled beyond belief that I found Mr. Awesome and I will finally get to be with him, I’m a bit melancholy (me?) and anxious, because if this works, I’m letting go of familiarity. I’m committing to untested waters, separating from friends and family and a culture I’ve gotten to know pretty well over the last 35 years. But with a future so bright, I have no right to complain. So beware, moving to France will become the main focus of this blogumn for a while, until I pull it off, then hopefully I’ll talk about working in France, marriage to a foreigner, step-motherhood, getting old in France, retiring in Corsica…who knows?