Karen and Tom’s Excellent Adventure
Lafayette, we are here
We almost didn’t make it. Two and a half years earlier, when we were only ten days away from our scheduled visa interview at the French Consulate, we discovered Karen’s illness. Everything stopped. Karen began a series of two surgeries and recoveries, three months of chemo, and recovery, and another surgery. Now, finally, she is given the “All Clear” from all of her doctors, and they all told her, “Go to France”. And given the all clear, we picked up where we left off, applied for the Long Stay Visa, and one day shy of Karen’s birthday, arrived in France with permission to stay.
It is all so improbable. For most first-time visitors, Paris is so exciting and romantic and enthralling that most everyone thinks at least for a moment, “Wow, I could LIVE here. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in Paris?” That’s the fantasy, of course. But the reality is that Paris isn’t France, any more than Manhattan is the U.S. And you don’t really experience France until you get out of Paris. And well, that’s what we did, from our very first visit. And along the way both Karen and I entertained fantasies of living in France for longer and longer periods of time. Karen always wanted to have her own kitchen, to go to market, to shop, and to cook in France. Both of us fell in love with the country, and both of us came to understand that we are simply happier here in France.
It has been a long and unique journey from the first tentative and exciting visit to Paris and the Normandy coast in 1998, to life in an apartment in a tiny village in the Sarthe twenty years later. Neither of us could have imagined the series of circumstances that led to this moment, and the more we reflect on it, the more both of us can only shake our heads in amazement and admit that we have been incredibly blessed.
Today we are living in a very small, very French apartment in a tiny, rural village with an ancient church on the minuscule town square, built atop a roman era temple. Or so they say.
Located in the Sarthe, the village of Luche-Pringe sits on the banks of the Loir river about 8 kilometers from the large town of La Fleche, from which the French departed on their journey that led to the founding of Montreal, Canada. In many ways it is a picture postcard village, almost a caricature of The French Village; There are two small bakeries…boulangeries...side by side on the town square. Two small corner-groceries…epiceries; one café, and one small restaurant that doesn’t appear to be open with any regularity. There are two butchers, one located next door to us, where Manu and his wife give us big smiling waves whenever we walk by.
There are times when I feel like I’m living in a movie.
“Lafayette, We Are Here” was a greeting called out by an American general when US troops arrived in France in 1917, upon the American entry into WWI. The implication is one of “returning the favor” for French assistance in the American Revolution.
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Back in the early 1960’s, when I was too young to buy beer in New Jersey, but not on Staten Island in New York, I first tasted and fell in love with Ballantine Ale. On the green and gold label it said, “India Pale Ale”and it was, at the time, a true outlier among beers. … Continue reading Lagunitas, s’il vous plaît
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