Friday, March 02, 2012

The perfect wave

We were on a hike on Brittany's Cap Sizun last summer, following a path along the granite cliffs of le Point du Raz, when we got a clear view of the sandy beach that rings the ominously-named Baie des Trépassés.  There were no shipwrecks on that clear August afternoon.  It was calm and warm -- well, warm for Brittany -- and we regretted not bringing our swimsuits and beach gear.  Most of the people in the water were surfers, bobbing like buoys well out from shore, hugging their boards and letting wave after perfectly good wave wash over them without taking action.  I know nothing about surfing, of course, nor does my husband, but that didn't keep us as good cynical Parisians from shaking our heads and having a laugh at their expense.

They were hanging out waiting for the perfect wave, and meanwhile were evidently bored, wet, cold, and wasting their time.  How ridiculous.

I thought about this for a minute. 

"Yeah, but isn't that a bit like us?"

For years I've been talking about moving and leaving an apartment that has for different reasons never quite fit my dreams.  It has, at the same time, been perfect: the right place to rent when we arrived here from Boston, the right place to buy when the occasion presented itself.  It's on a quiet street, and the sun streams in through all the windows from morning through late afternoon.  The closets are big.  The kitchen is huge by Parisian standards.  There's a parking spot and a basement storage unit, and a grocery store a block away.

But we're feeling a little bit... root bound, with two kids, two bedrooms, and two thousand-odd books at last estimate.  Legos, CDs, stuffed animals, preschool art projects I'm too sentimental to get rid of.  Three bicycles. Four car seats.  Lots and lots of baby clothes.  

For at least two years now we've been idly following online real estate announcements, but for one reason or another it was never the right moment.  We're big on unnecessary reflection chez Parisienne: for example, we started making lists of baby names back before we were married, none of which, incidentally, came close to making the final cut.   We're also big on to-do lists before we leap into the unknown.  In order to consider a move farther out of Paris, I had to get my French driver's license: check.  We decided that it was not a good idea to move in the summer right before I started back at work at the end of my maternity leave.  Now we're wondering if we should move this summer or the next, for the former will mean that we'll have to find a new nanny for Mademoiselle.  

As wave after wave crashes on my head, I'm clinging to my board and dog paddling.  And I'm getting sick of it.

This weekend we're visiting a house and an apartment.  I doubt either will inspire us, but I'm not sure that surfers make to-do lists, either.  

Hold on folks, that may be a whitecap on the horizon.


Anandi said...

Moving is really, really hard, and totally sucks. But I think if you find the perfect place, the one that speaks to you, it'll probably get you into action mode and make the crappiness of moving be worth it.

Jac. said...

We went through the exact same thing for about 5 years (beginning shortly before the boy was born). And the pressure really started to build after the girl arrived for all the same reasons - two kids, two bedrooms, 1 bathroom, no space. Loved the location but NO SPACE. We moved 6 months ago. We went from looking in a new area we had never considered before, to buying a house and completely uprooting our lives in every way in the space of 6 weeks. And I am so happy we did. So your analogy of waiting for the perfect wave really resonated with me. When the right moment came along we just leaped and it made all the waiting, hemming, analysis etc., worthwhile. In the end. It didn't feel that way at the time though.

Cloud said...

Good luck with the move! We moved into our current house when Pumpkin was 5 months old. It sucked at the time, but having a yard for the kids to play in has been awesome. And we were definitely out of room at our old apartment!

Claudia said...

Nice! Of course I think you're being wise by planning and moving cautiously, cuz that's what I do.

Though we have enough space, we've considered moving many times due to poor employment opportunities in our area. I shudder at the thought of having to cull and pack up this place one day.

Best of luck on finding your new maison!

Sylvie said...

My Japanese friend in Paris laughs at the difference between the French and the Japanese, the biggest being their decision-making processes. The Japanese, she says, think about something then just do it -- sometimes to their regret. But they make the move. The French, she says, think and think and think, almost to the point of being paralyzed.

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

@Anandi - thank you for the encouragement! Every time I think of all of the logistics involved with the move, especially with kids, it freaks me out. So it helps to keep it in perspective.

Thank you all for the encouragement!

@Jac - I find it fascinating how your experience mirrors mine many times, give or take six months!

@Cloud - we're still asking ourselves "house or apartment?" and though I would love a house, with a yard, the question will probably answer itself with "apartment" since there are simply more of them available where we're looking. But with the biggest "backyard" in the Ancien Regime just a few minutes away (Versailles and its park), it won't be a hardship.

Not that I could turn the kids outside and say "run and play near the château and be back in time for dinner," of course...

@Claudia -- moving is such a pain, it is so easy to put it off. Plus as much as our current place is tiny, I feel like I have it rationalized and organized to a level that it will take me years to get to in a new place. Of course if I have more space it isn't as big a deal, but still, I'm a house-proud perfectionist (a house-proud perfectionist with stains on my couch and crumbs under my table right now, but still...)

@Sylvie - so true! My boss said something like that just yesterday.

hush said...

Good luck, tough decision. I hate moving.

When DS was 8 months old, we moved across the country from the big city, small townhome to rural Podunkville, with a big house on many acres.

It sucked, and 3.5 years later I still have not fully unpacked and decorated. What I actually need is a week off from work, and for DH to take the kids on vacation - then I'd be able to do the hundreds of little things we've been putting off. That's been a major downside, but all things considered, I'm glad we moved. I think we're a lot happier here.

paola said...

If I remember correctly, you live quite close to your in-laws. It is such a bonus living near family, if they are the non-interfering kind, that is. That is the thing i miss the most about living so far away. I think I am experienceing the 7 month itch. I must be if I am missing my mother in law.