La Reveuse (the Dreamer) ...c'est moi!
No more dreaming. One month from tonight, this New York girl will be on her way to realizing a lifelong dream: to live in Paris where I will do nothing but write, immerse myself in French culture and (hopefully!) become more conversant in French.
I was born a francophile, unlikely as that was. Unlikely because I was born and raised in a borough of New York City to an accountant and a housewife, neither of whom had college degrees and who had little travel experience between them, no less much interest in other cultures. Yet at a very young age, I adored Pepe LePew and Babar, and I lived to hear Jacques Cousteau's beautifully accented narration of his underwater adventures. I grew up and fell in love with French food and French films and French artists. And of course there was the romance of the many expat writers and artists who patronized the famous cafes--Les Deux Magots, Cafe de Flore, Brasserie Lipp. Think of me as the female version of the Owen Wilson character in Midnight in Paris.
Fast-forward several decades later, to moi at the over-ripe age of 55, and to my own enormous surprise, I've announced a three-month leave of absence from my day job, I've saved my pennies and I've dipped into my 401k so that I can finally indulge my fantasy of living in Paris (if for only three months).
The leave of absence is not just from work either. I'm plucking myself out of my everyday life, a life that includes Ken, aka the Love of My Life, and Claude, my much-loved dog. I'll be alone for the first time in 20 years, free of a full-time job for the first time in my adult life, and making my writing priority number one for the first time in my entire life. To say I'm excited doesn't cover it, but there's anxiety, too--the best kind, of course.
So how did I get here? As with anything, there were several contributing factors. In 2017, I was in a serious funk. A younger friend of mine died of lung cancer less than a year after she was diagnosed and my younger brother was diagnosed with Ataxia, an incurable deterioration of the cerebellum. My daily life was (is) defined by a high-stress job, financial difficulties and the all-consuming despair that comes with living in Trump's America. And I hadn't been writing. In the past, I'd been able to kick my own butt out of such a funk, but nothing was working--until I began working with a life coach. I'd never done such a thing before, but I knew I needed some objective someone to help me develop some strategies and get writing again because, well, time is running out.
Fortunately for me, a friend recommended a wonderful coach in Switzerland, who asked a simple question: If time and money were no issues, what would your life look like? I didn't need even a heartbeat to answer that I'd be living in Paris and writing full-time. But of course, time and money were issues, so it was and always would be a fantasy. I would never be able to do it. Then she asked me, Why not? Really, she was exasperating!
That was in October 2017. By January 2018, I'd found a place to stay in the Haut Marais and had begun to assemble the framework of my three-month sabbatical from life without ever believing it would actually happen. By now the majority of the preparation is done and I'm still not sure I believe it. This is crazy, right? I'm 55 years old. I have responsibilities and obligations to fulfill. I have my loved ones here who depend upon me. Won't everything fall apart if I'm not here to manage it all? Imagine the debt I'm going to be in! And isn't it late in life for such an adventure?
But hey, I'm a young 55, and if not now, then when?
So yes, this is happening, people. I'm going to live in Paris and I'm going to write in cafes while drinking wine and I'm going to do my damnedest to hold conversations in French--or at least be understood when I go to the marché with my fishnet bag for fruit and cheese and bread.
I want a completely fresh start, so I'll be working on a brand new novel, the goal being to finish an entire first draft during my time in the City of Lights. I'll also be maintaining a daily blog here of my grand adventure, beginning on 3 August, so check back in then and wish me luck!