A Post from Provence: Might This Be Home? – Part 1

A more personal post in real time about my ongoing quest for home that may resonate with other ATCKs…

I am blessed with many dear friends.  Unfortunately, they don’t live where I do, and they are spread out from one another across three continents.   We practically live on email, Skype and our ever-present phones.

I moved from Atlanta to the Bay Area six years ago, and am debating whether to stay or move somewhere else in the States where I might find a more satisfying sense of community.  I know from hard experience that having friends nearby is the most important consideration in where to move next, but none of my closest friends live in a place I can see myself being happy.   So I’ve always seen it as a choice between being near friends and being in a place that resonates, where I feel some sense of belonging.

SF-skyline-2At bottom, though, I know I’ll never find the kind of community that is part of the fabric in Europe and besides, I miss Europe.  So my current hope is to spend six months a year in the States and six months in France or Italy.

This means I face the same dilemma about where to make a part-time home in Europe as I do in the States.

It has seemed an impossible choice, one that has effectively paralyzed me.  Whether I choose to follow my friends or go for a place I feel comfortable, I will continue to feel—I will continue to be—an outsider.

But in 2012 close friends, a retired couple from Atlanta, decided to up and move permanently to a lovely medieval village in Provence in the south of France, and invited me to come over as often as I want for as long as I want.

Feeling that it was a lifeline, that is exactly what I did.

As I write this, I am ensconced in the village.  I’ve come each May for three years, each time staying between 4 and 6 weeks.  This year I came in late September; I stayed with my friends for two weeks and am now renting an apartment on the main street of the village for another two months before I head off to Paris.

This visit is three months long, and it’s in the fall and early winter rather than in the famously glorious Provencal spring. Happy in Provence

It’s an experiment to see what it would be like to live here in the colder months, and how hard or easy it is to make new friends without relying so heavily on my friends.

But mostly it is my attempt to reclaim the gestalt of a part of the world I’ve missed from my childhood in Genoa and Geneva—to see if it is a place with the potential to call home.

photo (1)Maybe I can find it here, in this lovely village, on the list of the Most Beautiful Villages in France, with its cobblestone streets filled with life; cafes fragrant with the smell of coffee and entrecote grilled with garlic and parsley; and lovely boutique shops framed with happy red bougainvillea, all set in the midst of picture-postcard perfect olive groves and lavender fields.

For the first time I have dear friends in a place that might, if I’m lucky, come to feel like home.

This village, with these friends, has been full of promise.  I’ve thought it could offer me what I need.

But now I’m beginning to wonder, in spite of some truly lovely people here.  I’m keeping an open mind.  As an ATCK I bring some unusual, insightful (she said modestly) and weird ways of looking at this, and I’m trying not to sabotage myself.

As the days meander by, I’ll be checking my gut and my heart and the angels on my shoulders.

That’s what I’ll be writing about next.  Hope you’ll stay tuned.

We all need to be seen.  We all need home.

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