I have something to tell you

Reading Time: 5 minutes

I have news for you. Well, this is not really “news” per se, more an announcement. Because the real news, if everything goes according to plan, might not come to be for another five years.

I know, it’s a rather long teasing, but there’s not much I can do about it. That’s the way it goes, you’ll have to deal with it! Rest assured, though, I intend to tell you all the steps, obstacles, plot twists ad turns that this new adventure will definitely put in our way. I won’t spare you any details, any mistake we make and obviously any cliché – again, I can not help it, my life is full of them. So is yours too, I’m sure.

To understand the true meaning, the importance of this announcement, we have to go back in time a little.

Flashback

I grew up in the 70’s – yes, I’m that old, no disparaging comment, please – in a city at the very northern tip of Normandy, known worldwide thanks to a Jacques Demy’s musical movie: Cherbourg. (Thanks to this guys’s movie title, my home city’s name remains forever associated with the rain — thanks, dude).

The area had survived on strong Navy presence and shipbuilding for a long time, but was, at the time, beginning to beat to the rhythm of nuclear power plants breaking ground.

While bulldozers irreparably tore the coastal landscapes to build atomic concrete cathedrals, Cherbourg, this small harbour town, felt like a dead end to me, the very last stop of the train from Paris, with only the Channel beyond. I stood many hours on the port, hoping to see the English coast and why not, America, appear in the distance! Granted, it was pretty hopeless of me, but that sea felt like the only possible escape, a potential sense of freedom feeding on the immensity and the unknown. I imagined myself disappearing off in the distance, on my way to new adventures, light years from my uneventful daily life at the time.

Although I probably did not understand, much less accept my “difference” and the impact it would have on my life, I could not project myself into anything conventional, and even less there in that shallow city. Really? Growing old here? Getting married, buying a house, having kids like everyone else and seeing them grow up here, go to the same school I did, walk the same four streets I walked while I quietly get older and wait to kick the bucket? Not for me. Obviously, from a certain angle, life in Cherbourg could feel nice to some, and I would never judge those who had chosen to stay there. The very notion of staying put in the same place for the rest of my life, however, made me feel like I was already laying in a box, six feet under. Honestly.

When my “taste” for men was confirmed, the idea of living a “normal” life, wherever that is, seemed to disappear forever. I was convinced my life would never be like my parents’ — Well, at least, like the one they had before their divorce ; although, given the divorce rate these days, leading a “normal” life would probably include going through a divorce a few years after buying the condo.

So I left without looking back and bad farewell first to Normandy, then to France.

Back to square one

Needless to say, Karma came to kick my ass, some fifteen years later. A combination of circumstances, bad choices, and some good ones, and I found myself back in Normandy, owner of a house to renovate – it was the fashionable at the time – and in a relationship. I was one marriage and some kids away from the picture perfect normal life I dreaded. Fortunately for me, French law did not allow same-sex marriage at the time, and I had no desire to have kids.

I remember well being thirty-five years old and realizing that my father was twenty-three when I was born. I was then twelve years older, but I felt there was absolutely no way I was ready to bear such a responsibility. I was too lost, such a child still, wondering who I would be when I grew up, unable to make decisions for me that made sense, constantly adding to a long list of bad choices. Having a child? No effing way.

I told my father about that, however, and expressed my admiration. He swept the idea with a “It was different at the time.” He was right: my generation seemed not to want to settle, or procreate, as victims of a Peter Pan complex. I’m generalizing, of course, I project my own fears onto people my age, but still…

Back to the narrative. My “little house in Normandy” story came to an unhappy end after three years; I moved to a much more thrilling Parisian life, sharing my time between my work and… nothing else, really. I was convinced, yet again, that leading a conventional life would definitely not be right for me. The wonderful world of advertising awaited me! Bring on the intoxicating spiral of exciting digital projects, the long nights spent at the agency, sweating over overdue project while scarfing down a piece of cold pizza! That would be my life now, and nothing would drag me back to normality, whatever that meant.

I do not know which governs the rules of fate, but it is assumed differently this time, to prove to myself that I could be wrong. That “normality” that I fled was perhaps good.

A decisive meeting a January 2nd 2012, with a certain Cyril, an overall weariness of the Parisian frenzy, and one marriage-equality law later, and here I am, ten years after the Normandy fiasco, living again away in a suburb, married, and a homeowner. The house is not lost in the countryside like the previous one, the city we live in is fortunately much bigger and artistically open, and the decision that led us here was quite conscious, thoroughly thought through, I would say.

Do I feel stuck? Of course not. I have grown up to be happy. I am serene and enjoying what some may call “a nesting process”. This does not stop Cyril and I from dreaming together, or to consider that nothing is ever definitive, that we can, at any time, pack our bags and leave, to build something different at the other end of the world, if we feel the urge.

Why am I telling you this?

Why this long, very long narrative, this endless flashback? Because what I have to announce, this new story I’ll start telling you, that thing which could last five years may surprise some. It will raise questions, debates and may even meet fierce opposition.

Cyril and I have never had ambitions to have an offspring that would be our own blood. We do, however, want to pass on values, to accompany a child and give him/her shelter, and to prepare him/her as best we can for the life that awaits him, to give him/her the means to face it.

We therefore have chosen to send, as required by French law, a request to the President of the General Council — the equivalent of a State Administration in the US — to receive an “Approval to Adopt” application. (I will share details of the French procedure in upcoming posts).

The road will probably be a long one. It will start by a nine-month wait for our application to be reviewed by the Committee once we fill it in and send it. And if, fortunately, we were approved, we would only be at the beginning of the path leading us to the child joining our family.

Now that we have the house, the good situations that go with it, and the certainty that the time is right, we can engage in this process being hopeful.

Obviously, we don’t live on the Ingalls’ prairie, we probably won’t be perfect parents, but we will do our best. And above all, we are ready.

The request is sent. We therefore expect the application back. Rest assured, I will continue to keep you posted on this new adventure…

letter

You are here

Reading Time: 4 minutes

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a French post called “Vous êtes ici”, which means, you guessed it: “You are here”. It was a piece about how I felt I was taking my French friends and loved ones from all over the world with me on our vacation around the United States.

As I now walk the streets of my French hometown, as I fall back into my daily routine on the other side of the Atlantic, the time has come from me to tell you all, my American buddies and family, how you are here, beside me, in these odd moments when I find myself a little bit of a stranger in my own country.

Rochelle, my bold and audacious friend, you are here when I walk across Lille’s Main Square, like we did together a year ago. Your laughter rings still in my ear and I miss you hugs.

Paul L., my ever so talented friend and amazing artist, you are here as I hum and sing “For Good” and go about my day. I often speak of you, of the dream you live, of the amazing show we saw, of the gift it was to be taken around backstage and of the wonderful time we had with you, your husband and your friends.

Cathie H., you are here as I prepare myself to get into our adoption plan ; I hear the pride in your voice as you speak of your kids and I hope to be as great a parent as you are.

Sara, you are here too, by the way. Seeing how happy you are, listening to you telling us about your boy made us want to go through with this process even more. You will hear from me soon for advice, ma chère!

Barb and Adriana, you are here on a daily basis, because of my everlasting connection to K, of course, because of the special bond we have, Barb, but also because I cannot wait to show you guys around and I can’t stop picturing AJ’s face when she’ll discover France.

Alexis/Tamsin, you are here whenever I need the strength and the discipline to sit down and write ! I envy your determination and character, my friend.

My dear Michael V., you are here as I wait for your stories to impregnate my mind and give birth to another movie. What can I say? Your stories inspire me!

Cathie, Rich and Susan W., you guys are part of me, that’s a given. Mom, your love, strength and indestructible sense of humour are my fuel. I try to see the world through your eyes and I laugh!

Holly, Lisa and Brad, Kelly and David, you guys are here because you should be here already! I want to spend more time with you all, here, and share some more moments, simple ones, with wine, as friends do when they get older. So get yours asses here, for Christ’s sake!

Janet, Shay, Atis & Lisa, Paul, Mary Kay, you are here with me as I plan my new foolish project of starting a rep company. Your combined energy, passion and determination inspire me. The friendship you showed me by being there, that Sunday, meant the world to me.

Michael F. and Michael G., you guys are here whenever I look at my husband and wonder what I did to deserve such happiness. Your love for each other, the beautiful thing that is your couple is inspiring to me.

Mark, my beautiful (bearded) friend, you are here with me as I try to find a way to balance work, health and creativity. You have shown me it is possible and I thrive to be more like you everyday.

Cara, you are here as I plot my next book, which means, very, very often! It was fantastic to meet a fellow writer in an old friend and to discover how alike we think and work. I can’t wait to read your next novel!

Pauline, Charles, Rita, Poppy and Evelyn, you are here as I walk around the house we bought specifically to welcome our friends. I can totally picture you coming down our stairs for a hearty breakfast made of croissants and other French delicacies. Granted, we may not have parrots on our porch, but we’ll be able to take care of all of you like you took care of us.

Diane, you are here as I write these words, as a sort of new digital version of the written correspondance we use to share. So many things to tell you from my life here!

You are all here, I tell you.

Even you, who I did not have the chance to see again, this time around. My bro John, Aimee, Gunna, Scottie, Nicole

You all have heard me speak about my life here in France, some twenty years ago when we first met. You probably heard me during this trip talking about it again, complaining about this or the other, how French people don’t react the same way you guys do, how being enthusiastic, positive is not part of our culture.

Some of you have come here, and some of you I even had the chance to guide around or introduce to my family. Some of you I will get to see here pretty soon, I should hope.

But in the mean time, I want to keep you in my pocket and carry you around as my life here unfolds. I want to share the great moments with you, and small ones too. I want to share stories, encounters, victories and defeats, with texts, photos, sounds and videos.

So do come back here. Because I’ll be here, and a little piece of you will too.