We’ve kicked the can down the road long enough. Next year is coming. We need to decide what we’re going to do. More specifically, where we’re going to live.
To a degree, this came to a head in Saint Malo during a 6-day trip to Brittany last week (Spoiler alert: I’ll write about this, but it continues to be our favorite area of France). Yet after two days, our tiny Airbnb apartment in a small city felt confining, and we grew restless. This drove a conversation about what’s next.
Pat tends to jump to solutions. “Let’s buy a place in Philadelphia.”
I tend to jump to the absurd. “Would you ever live in a car? That way, we can be mobile.”
Immersed in a conversation that was headed nowhere, I switched course and asked Pat to come up with three goals for our future. Working independently, I did the same. Then we compared our lists to see if they might yield some guidance.
(Background: We are living in Paris on a one year residency permit that expires February 1, 2018. Our next play was to move to a small house in Ireland, but given changes to Irish residency rules, we can’t do that. Our family is currently strewn across the US: Charlottesville, Philadelphia, and Denver (with Pat’s mother in Traverse City). In general, I tend to come up with hair brained schemes. Pat tends to look at me alarmed, but then agrees to execute my hair-brained schemes. Which has resulted in the best of times. And worst of times.)
We worked on our lists.
Although we tend to be quite different people, our top 3 goals were the same. And yes, beyond the first goal, this surprised me.
- Spend more time with our family
- Structure a life that continues to focus on health and fitness
- Maintain our current simplicity
Prior to this, we had concluded that we prefer living in cities (and I have a much easier job with the second objective when I’m living in a walkable city). And we both love our life in Paris. But…
On the way home from Saint Malo, I admitted that while I had enjoyed the trip, I’m tired of traveling. Pat took this as a sign that there really is a God.
We were getting somewhere.
A return to the US, rotating between the cities where we have family, sounded idyllic (thankfully, they all live in places we love). Then I flashed back to a scene with our son Ryan as he drove us to the airport in Philadelphia at the end of a recent trip home. Pat and I were the last to leave. I turned to Ryan, “Admit it. Exactly how happy are you right now?”
After all, hosting your family as a young adult is a bit like hosting the Olympics: Fun. Stressful. Expensive. A lavish opening ceremony. An equally lavish closing ceremony. Days of exhausting excitement in between.
Ryan admitted he was happy. “I love it when everyone comes. And we always have a great time together. But then I love returning to my life.”
He echoed my thoughts. I love my family. And I love my life.
With these disparate ingredients, it was time to make the sausage.
I made an appointment to extend our residency in France. Our landlord has agreed we can live in our apartment as long as we want and terminate the lease with a month notice. This addresses a concern that Pat and I share: If we leave our apartment in Paris, we can’t easily recreate this: a perfect neighborhood, a charming place, an adorable landlord. If we give this up now, there’s no easy path to return.
We’ve decided to change our current life, and see if we can make it work.
I’m not making any travel plans for next year except for returning home (and sure, we’ll take an occasional weekend trip, but I’d like to be more spontaneous, and focused, in where we go).
As for increasing family time, we both love spring in Charlottesville. It will be all Callahan hands on deck for the Philly 10K in August. Pat itches for apples, leaves, and football in the fall. We plan to return home for the month of April, for the Philly 10K weekend, and for October through the end of the year when birthdays and holidays cluster together.
And we’ll go from there.
Categories: Life in Paris