Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Year!

It's difficult to believe but Jude and I have lived in Paris, France for a year.  We just celebrated our anniversary, in fact.


We rushed to get out of the US.  It was as if someone loaded us into a Circus cannon and pointed us in the direction of the Most Beautiful City on Planet Earth.

The president of the company I worked for did his best to publicly humiliate me in front of thirty or forty colleagues over the course of a week.  I was surprised that he failed to find any value in the things we were doing _for him_ so that _he_ could see an increase in the value of _his_ stock options.

My layoff meeting lasted thirty minutes.  It felt like it lasted a week.


Our shock at writing a $1200 check to the COBRA insurance company for the privilege of holding a piece of plastic we could show our physicians was enough to last a lifetime.

Our surprise in realizing the Unemployment Insurance barely covered the COBRA costs was only a little less than the writing of the aforementioned check.

Our house shockingly sold in a week.  This in a severely "down" market (ie: during the time the US experienced the biggest transfer of wealth upward to supposedly deserving Bank Officers since, well, the .Com Collapse and the Junk Bond Collapse and the Savings and Loan Collapse).


Our visitors visas for France arrived in a week.

Our small storage unit (to cover Plan B should living in Yerp not work out) was filled with the residue of our lives in the US in a week.

Our Farewell to Family trip took a week.

Things in America seemed to have a cycle time of one week.  It all happened so quickly.


Integration into Paris culture and life would likely happen on a longer time scale than one simple week.

What we moved to included many obvious things and some of the rather not so obvious.

It's obvious why people love Paris, France.  There is so much here to see and do.  It's a great place to retire, in fact.

The food in the markets is, on the whole, incredible.  Things taste better here than they did in the US.  The food system in France is not run by Giant Food Corporations.  Instead, it's a sustainable system of food production that ensures excellent quality from production through to consumption.  In the US, if it doesn't taste like Pulpy Cardboard, it can't be "real" food.


The museums are worth visiting many times.  A yearly membership to the Louvre is nearly obligatory.  A person can go back as many times as they like and they'd never have seen all there is to see and appreciate.  In the US, culture is reborn every morning and nothing of value is seen in Old Stuff (unless you watch the Antiques Roadshow, and then it's the little trinkets and gee-gaws that seem to hold value, monetary value, but how much appreciation beyond the money is unknowable).

The public transit system moves people throughout France efficiently and cost effectively.  We currently live car-less in the 15th Arrondissement, which is near the edge of the city.  Yet we can be anywhere in Paris in around 25 minutes.  Many of the best places are closer than that.  By Metro.  By l'autobus.  By RER regional train.  It doesn't matter.  You can get there from here.  In the US we required une voiture to travel even a few hundred yards.

What wasn't obvious to us was that Great Baguette could be difficult to find.  After several months of searching for Great Baguette, we stumbled on a wonderful little place, only to have it change owners over the course of Les Vacances last August.  It took me a few more months to find a suitable replacement Boulangerie.  In the US, Wonder Bread is the answer to all your Bread Problems.


What wasn't obvious is that the French actually have a wonderful sense of humor.  For instance, when a Mini, boxed in by a delivery van, sounds it's horn for minutes at a time, residents know that eggs can be used, when accurately hurled, to turn the horn off.  Simple and effective.  In the US the horn would have been silenced by people using guns and lots and lots of bullets and several similarly well-equipped SWAT Teams.

What wasn't obvious is that peace, real peace, can be felt when advertisers and news-persons on the Tele aren't telling you how sick you are, how much you need the latest new widget, and how much you need to be afraid.  It's bizarre to look back and realize how much we were preyed upon by corporate advertisers and corporate controlled news outlets.  It wasn't obvious until we looked at the facts, but living in Amerika, a person is 5 times more likely to die of homicidal violence than we are living in Yerp.  We laugh when people in the States complain about violence in Mexico. It's all about perception, isn't it?

What is obvious includes two fundamental things that we've come to realize and experience for ourselves.  The first is (as our friend Don pointed out several years ago) wherever you retire, you will, slowly but surely, put down deep deep roots.  The second is something we knew before moving here; it would take a lifetime to experience and enjoy everything Paris has to offer.


No comments:

Post a Comment