We change our minds. A lot. I don’t know if you’ve noticed. But what are plans other than a reasonably educated guess of what your future self would like? Generally, my present self is very happy with the decisions my past self has made, but I reserve final veto rights. Plans are a road map. At this point in my life, I don’t have a fixed destination. If a scenic route pops up on my way somewhere, I’m going to take it. Consistency is for the incurious.
So what the hell am I actually talking about? In less than 48 hours, we went from going on a 5 week trip to Nice to assess apartments with an eye towards moving there this winter, to something else entirely. It was enough to give even us veteran mind-changers whiplash. We’re now on an open-ended trip to who knows where? We’re currently in Nice, but we’re not looking at apartments.
To recap, we’d decided to move. Fate had dealt us a new, very noisy neighbor and we needed to get out of dodge. While we still loved Paris, we were chomping at the bit to go elsewhere, so we weren’t going to just get another apartment there. Our fabulous ex-neighbors, Pat and Julie, wanted their old apartment back, and we had discussed time-sharing our apartment until theirs became available. We thought it was a terrific idea, but we didn’t really think they would ultimately want to do it. In the meantime, party-boy chilled out.
Phase one of our about-face was when I realized we didn’t have to return to Paris at the end of the 5 weeks. Yes, we’re in the bureaucratic limbo that happens between dropping off documents to renew a visa and it being available for pick-up. I was anticipating us being back in Paris by the time our cards would normally be ready, but hey, we have this magic slip of paper, our receipt, that keeps us legal and it is valid until the end of February. So how about that? As long as we picked up our cards by then, we’d be fine. We had already packed our bags when we realized this. We did a quick repack, added a couple of jackets, some warmer pants, and called it good. We could now keep going through winter if we wanted, at least a southern one. Phase two is what gave us the big boot out the door. We had lunch with Pat and Julie in the first days after their arrival from the US. Julie said, no matter what happens, one or both of us has to keep that apartment. It’s too good to let it go. We thought they were on the fence with the whole apartment sharing idea, that they’d need the time they were spending there during our absence to decide for sure; they thought we were uncertain. Clearing up that misunderstanding has cleared the way for this new what-if? Pat and Julie get their toe-hold in Paris, we get one foot out the door. Our bureaucratic needs can stay there, we won’t have to go through the whole hullabaloo of changing everything.
Does this mean we won’t live by the sea? That’s a decision for another day. For now this means we will live by many seas. We’ll be taking up our semi-nomadic life again.
There’s a story I always liked about Jackie Gleason. At the height of his career, when he was one of Hollywood’s highest-paid stars, he paid for a hotel room in New Jersey for years. He never stayed there. In it he kept a clean suit with a $50 bill in the pocket. If it all went to hell, he could go there and start over. Mark said our Paris place is our hotel room in New Jersey, only instead of a clean suit in the closet, there’s a can of cassoulet.
So while there’s no longer any impetus to move, there is an impetus to get moving. Who knows when the next covid-level event happens that knocks the future for a loop? Not that covid is over, but it’s at a smolder in parts of Europe. We’ll certainly be taking it into account as we make our plans. The time is now, but it always has been. Ready, set, go!