May 15, 2020
It been forever since I’ve written to you and when you are older you’ll completely understand why. So much has changed for us over the past year and a half, it’s almost overwhelming to think back on it all.
First, we had to say good-bye to everything we loved and cherished, yet again. We packed up our things and moved our entire lives, again. This time we left the country completely and are now residing in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Yup, France. Crazy right? Never in a million years did I ever think I’d be living in Europe, but here we are. It’s a beautiful country, what we’ve seen of it thus far anyway. The thing is this was supposed to be our little family’s great adventure. We were going to be explorers, wanderers, and food critics. We were going to take on this whole expat thing with open arms and fill our hearts and minds with as much history, art and fresh experiences than we could’ve ever thought possible. This big move was supposed to be so much more than what life has shelled out for us, but as the French say, C’est la vie.
The last family picture we took at our “Green House.”
We arrived in Clermont-Ferrand on March 3rd; we were hungry, jet lagged but super excited. I think we were all just eager to get to our temporary apartment, get settled and wash off the plane germs. Everything seemed strange, different and foreign to us in every definition of the word. From the creepy cave of a parking garage to the tricky locks on our apartment door. It was like the simplest of tasks and comforts of our lives vanished the moment we walked in. Still, we were ready to take it all in.
The best part of our tiny apartment was our balcony view.
Meanwhile, as we were packing up our lives and planning our future here in France, this insane virus started to wreak havoc in Asia, and slowly but surely it was going to rear its ugly head right in the middle of our European adventure.
We had a few days of freedom before the world changed on us. We saw a bit of the city, ate at a couple of restaurants. We discovered the difficulties of grocery shopping abroad and got to take in a couple of the local parks. We were welcomed by a few of the expat families and things seemed okay. We seemed to be moving in the right direction.
Place de Jaude – watching the water fountains.
The first French restaurant you ate at – Le Faisan Doré
We stopped at a cafe and got a baguette. Then we shared with the pigeons.
You had three days of school stinky. You were in Moyenne Section with Mme Bernadette. You had a love/hate relationship with drop offs, but in those three days you made a friend and your Mommy and Daddy found the home that we would spend the next four years in. In those three days we enjoyed the fresh air, made dinners in our temporary apartment and got a glimpse of what our new routines were going to look like. The possibilities were endless…
Your first day of school in France – Moyenne Section
Then all the shit in all the world hit the fan. The entire country was put on a mandatory lockdown and our lives changed. The whole world changed. COVID-19 did not give a damn about our plans or anyone else’s for that matter. Its only purpose is finding new hosts… Now we are currently living through a global pandemic. All the schools were closed and non-essential businesses were shutdown. Working from home became the new norm for families all over the world if you were lucky enough to still have a job. Our French home was put on hold, our container of goods delayed and Hawthorne’s flight from the states was cancelled. Our adventurous integration into this country and its culture was completely halted.
For Mommy, it felt like our entire world went black. I hit an intense low. I was barely used to the idea of us living here, missing our families, being nowhere near anything that felt comfortable. Now this… It turned into a living nightmare for me baby and I’m so sorry that I wasn’t better or stronger for you in those moments. I did my best.
What felt like the better part of a year in that tiny apartment was actually just one month. Its amazing what being enclosed in a space can do to your mental and emotional health. Let alone doing that in a country that is not yours. After our month in that apartment, we were fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to stay at one of your Daddy’s co-workers house. They are French, but are currently expatting in Canada. Their house was fully furnished, and available for us to stay in for the remainder of the lockdown. It was a gift and it felt like pure magic for the first few days we were there. We had a large garden, a furnished deck for outdoor living, and we had comfy couches and plenty of space to be alone if we wanted to. It was a welcome vacation from the hole of an apartment we were in. The apartment itself wasn’t terrible, it was the mental and emotional hole we fell in was what was killing us. Or just me for that matter.
Although we’ve had some really hard days, you have done such a great job at acclimating to the constant changes in our life. You are so brave, so smart and so silly. You’ve been such a good girl; leaving all of our family and friends, leaving your greenhouse that you loved so much. Starting a new school for a few days only to be locked up shortly after. Only speaking to our family and friends via FaceTime or Skype. You’re a rockstar baby.
Your Mommy, on the other hand has struggled so much with all the setbacks. There are days where I don’t feel like our lives will ever be “normal” again. I miss knowing where I am, being able to drive anywhere, being able to walk freely into a store and know exactly what I’m looking for. Just the thought of feeling safe and strong and independent in my own skin. I cry a lot these days, sometimes when you’re looking but mostly when I’m hidden away. I’m lost stinker and there are days when I feel like I’m holding you and Daddy back. It breaks my heart.
You wake up every morning ready to play, ready to explore the yard and its a beautiful sight. You are making friends with the neighbors who don’t speak English. Walking around the yard picking wildflowers and hunting for snails. Changing your outfit a million times a day, and making this house your wonderland. You are a light and a bolt of energy in such a dark time, such a strange time in history. On days where its difficult for me to even get out of bed, you come charging in with your fantastical ideas of what our day should look like. Thoughts of scavenger hunts, blanket forts, tea parties, picnics and tasty treats. Always tasty treats with you. I’m trying sweet pea, I promise.
Even though there are days where it seems like your parents are so withdrawn, depressed or unsure of what is to come just know that no matter where we are, where we are living that your daddy and I will find a way to get through the struggles and thrive amongst our surroundings. It may take a little longer this time around, but we are doing our best. The world is at a bit of a stand still, and I’m only hoping that it doesn’t last through our first summer here. I’m so ready to explore this beautiful country, take in all the art and history and get this adventure started already. Daddy has done a lot of traveling in his life, but you and me baby… we are going to be taking it all in for the first time together. I can’t wait to share that with you stink. Soon I hope sweet girl, I promise.
Love you, Obsessed with you, Inspired by you,
Your Melancholy Mommy
P.S Daddy went to pick up Hawthorne today in Paris! We finally get to be reunited with our puppy. Your best friend and big brother. I’m hoping his slobbery presence finally makes us feel whole again. He’s going to be tired, but we can snuggle with him for as long as you want when he’s ready.
Mme Michelle – the neighbor you became bestie with. You played games through the fence, played catch, gave each other treats and “gifts.” It was adorable.
The day you were fed up with us and wanted to run away. “I’m out of here! I’m going to Abuela’s. I packed snacks and toys, I just need you to give me my passport, Mom!”
Oh, my sweet girl. Once of the treats Mme Michelle gave you. Made your day.