The story of how I wound up living in southern France?
In 2012 I was living in an isolated valley in the North Cascade mountains of Washington.
I lived on a huge piece of land in a strange old farmhouse, worked as a glassblower, had some chickens and sheep and bees, and travelled part of the year on cruise ships as a demonstrating artist. I made felt out of sheep wool and played with old gears and machinery and made graphite drawings and read poetry and wore cowboy hats. I learned how to can vegetables and chop wood. It was everything I wanted to be when I grew up. I had animals and fresh eggs and a cool bicycle and the sound of coyotes at night. I made a lot of art and read a lot of books and got to measure the time of year by whether or not there was snow on the big gorgeous mountain opposite my house. I actually was pretty sure for a while there that I was going to get old there. I wanted to.
That certainty began to be replaced by anxiety. My job took me farther away, for longer periods of time, and every time I came home the house felt strange…like it no longer belonged to me. The whole life felt like someone else’s life. I stopped bothering to unpack my suitcases and opted to sit politely on the couch. My life, my hair, my clothes, and my whole being felt split into two irreconcilable halves.
Sometimes you don’t notice when a life no longer fits until you wake up day after day, unable to breathe, feeling trapped by the furniture in your house and the dishes in your sink. I turned 30. Then 31. Time kept passing.
That spring when everything was roiling inside me, I took a roadtrip with a friend from Las Vegas through Death Valley and Yosemite, up the California coast through Oregon and Washington. It was a turning point.
Sometimes when you’re driving through the desert you see things clearer.
One month after the road trip ended I flew to Barcelona to board another ship. A week or two later, everything in my life changed.
This blog is an attempt to document the aftermath of that meeting: falling in love with a beautiful French boy, travelling with him as we burned through our savings and scrambled to make a plan…culminating finally in my decision to move with him back to France, work with him and his family in the vineyard making wine…
I gave everything up. Our apartment burned three days after the wedding. In my typical way, I had and continue to have to flail around a lot and not make any of it look easy. And at the time, I didn’t speak a word of French. I suppose this is also an attempt to document my journey to build a new life after following my heart – or catalog the implosion. (It’s also really nice to speak English!)
At the beginning of this blog: It had been one month since the wedding. It had been two weeks since I got my visa. It had been two weeks and one day since I’d landed in France. It had been no time at all since my life had turned upside down.
Here we go.