Last fall, after the kids started school, I had a period of time where I felt frozen. So overwhelmed by all that I wanted to do and see and no idea where to start.
That feeling is back.
I have five weeks and one day before I close the door of this apartment behind me for the last time. I’m leaving my oldest child and husband here for an additional three weeks. My dog will stay in Iowa for the month of July. I’m sending a bag of things home with my parents in a couple weeks and have already made one large donation to the Goodwill-like place a ways away. I’ve sent in checks and sign-up forms for Middleton summer activities as well as registrations for next fall. I’ve added Les Mis rehearsals to the calendar as well as Gators practice and swim meets. I have the middle school and high school registrations on my calendar. And Tom called me on talking about Paris in the past tense the other day. And I’m trying to do things like refinance from abroad and find a new insurance agent due to the mess our current one has created.
Like all of you with kids in school, our spring is nutso. There are so many field trips I can’t keep up with the forms and the accompanying checks. I am chaperoning one that is all day leading a team of kids orienteering…in French. Elizabeth and Julian have a week-long field trip so that takes extra preparation, including Elizabeth and her four closest pals wanting to go to one another’s homes to help each person pack. There are school Spring Festivals, an invitation for the kids to sing at the Paris Choral Society’s Rodgers and Hammerstein concert, also requiring five extra evenings of rehearsals. Sarah has bake sales and school projects. And there are soccer practices and games, choir practice, tutoring, parent potlucks, knitting, sleepovers.
And we have guests throughout the rest of our stay; people we have been looking forward to seeing and sharing the city with. We are washing lots of sheets with Tom and I having the pleasure of using the Littlest Pet Shop sheets and a strange set of devil/angel cows sheets. Chili is just happy to sit atop the stack of blankets that gets folded and placed in the family room each morning when the couches and beds are put back in order for the day. Almost a little like The Princess and the Pea.
So my body and my mind are clicking through the motions, doing what we need to do to make the transition as smooth as possible.
But I’m feeling stuck. Stuck with my long list of things to still see and do. But mostly stuck between here and there. Listening to friends here make their plans for next year. Feeling left out. Knowing friends at home are attending orientations for new schools while we are still gone. And feeling left out. Wondering how we are all going to move forward as we transition back. Feeling we are different now but knowing everyone is no matter where they have spent the last year. Wondering how the kids’ friends have changed and where they will “fit” when they get back. Life moves on. We have. We can only expect that others have, too. Wanting to walk away from this experience with no regrets. Wanting perfect closure on this experience yet hoping for a last impression.
I spent yesterday with two of my three besties from the year: sitting around a kitchen table chatting about everything including schools and genetic testing, shopping in the Marais and lunch at a new trendy hotspot that was just okay and had terrible service…but provided us with great stories and lots of laughs and eye-rolling. There are more girl dates on the calendar for the next five weeks; they are keeping me in the moment.
So I’m kicking myself out the door today to tackle a few places I haven’t yet been and Tom will join me for lunch but not sure where. Elizabeth and I will knit after school with friends, soccer games tomorrow, taking the girls to the fabric district, guests returning tomorrow night from Normandy, and a Sunday filled with church, lunch in a creperie and more Marais shopping. Life keeps moving on so I need to “unstuck” myself and keep up.
I did catch a glimmer of possible impact of this crazy adventure. Last night at dinner, Julian opened a conversation with, “When I do this with my family, I want to go to Japan.”
Way to carry the torch, Julian.