Homesickness strikes during passport renewal at the American Consulate in France
Friday, April 19, 2013
The wind and sea in Marseilles....
Les larmes sont les pétales du coeur. --Paul Eluard
Tears are the heart's petals.
Audio File: Reread the above quote, then listen to it here: Download MP3 or Wav file
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
Standing before the great iron gates of the American consulate in Marseilles, I was surprised by a barrage of tears. Afraid the larmes would tumble out from behind their lash-rimmed dam, I rummaged through my pockets for un mouchoir. But all I could find was a ratty, make-up stained Kleenex.
"Mom!" Jackie said, with a mixture of tenderness and assertion. "What's the matter?"
I widened my eyes, as though stretching them might staunch the teary flow. Instead, the gesture added a bewildered look to the fragile exterior I hoped to mask.
"I don't know!" I said to my daughter, blotting the corners of my eyes with the weak tissue, careful it didn't end up in pieces, too.
My mind began to chatter:
Gosh, you are so sensitive! You'd think you were a hostage and that now, after two decades of captivity, you had arrived at the great freedom gates! The American Consulate, The Knight in Shining Armor!
I tried to understand the flood of emotion. It must be that feeling of release... The tears must be a kind of catharsis. But what was there to be cathartic about?
I did everything to curtail the tears, when my eyes settled high up on the branches of a leafless tree, planted, like me, outside the consulate's intimidating security barrier.
With my eyes lifted upward to the tree's limbs the tears had no chance of advancing but had to fall back into the fragile vessel producing them.
"Look!" I said to the kids, who all but towered above me like that tree. "There is a towel stuck in the branches!" I wasn't really interested in the flimsy, displaced serviette...but focusing on it might be just the distraction needed.
As we waited outside the U.S. Embassy, where we were scheduled to renew the kids' American passports for the third time in 18 years, I reconsidered the fragile object in the tree above us.
Uprooted, the little towel had been swept up by a passionate gust and deposited in an exciting foreign land. Months or years or decades later, the novelty having faded, there it remained....
There were pros and cons of the towel's foreign residence. The pros: a fantastic view! An elevated situation! An original life! The scent of baguettes wafting upwards... But there were cons, too: years and years away from its homeland, loneliness, and a separation from its people.
As my mind entertained itself with the towel's drama my emotions were kept at bay--but not for long! The great iron gates of the Consulat général des États-Unis swung open and I heard a voice that sounded just like my own.
"Hello. How are you doing today?" one of my people said.
* * *
Picture of the kids and me taken just around the corner from the The U.S. Consulate General in Marseilles. Jean-Marc suggested we have a coffee while waiting for the consulate to open. (The pause helped temporarily to settle these emotions!) The kids (Jackie, 15 years old is center -- and that's an almost 18 year old Max) were moved, too, by the experience of entering the American consulate in Marseilles. I hope to write about Jackie's emotions sometime (what a different reaction she had than I! Do you know the French expression "fou rire?")
une larme = tear drop (story and post here)
un mouchoir = tissue
la serviette = towel
Le consulat général des États-Unis = Consulate of the United States of America
le fou rire = the giggles
The Panier neighborhood in Marseilles, just off the Vieux Port.
A Message from Kristi: Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.
Ways to contribute:
1. Paypal or credit card
2. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.
Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety
Am I really the first to comment on your poetic, sentimental post today Kristin?
As always, so eloquently drafted. How the heart pulls and tugs us in different directions. Such prose, your description of the towel swept up in to the branches. Such a sweet analogy to your passion for France and JM, that pulled you back from your home in AZ, to begin your life anew here all those years ago.
So understandable to be caught up in the emotions of your experience at the gates of the Consulate.
As we celebrate following our own long held dream to live in France each day and the many truly wonderful joys it brings us...we are also struck at times, by the various emotions that can arise. Missing out on the birth of my niece's baby in AZ recently, brought a tinge of homesickness. Gratitude abounds for the gift of choice in our lifestyle and location. Allow the tears, as they also punctuate the joyful occasions as you know. The ebb and flow of our emotions, like the waves upon the shore.
All the best dear Kristin.
Hugs and bon weekend.
Posted by: Sandy Vann | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 01:02 PM
The tears of the transplanted - I know them too well. 42 years in Germany....but I try to get home to Australia at least once a year.....My kids, who were born and raised in Germany now live in Australia....Howzat for crazy migration logic? Thank goodness for Skype, now that a grandson is also Down Under. Loved your post. Look forward to hearing how your children reacted....
Posted by: Maureen | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 01:32 PM
Been there. Cried too. Great analogy.
Posted by: Tom from Detroit | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 01:39 PM
57 years in the United States, but what I remember and think about often ia my first 18 years in Hungary. Thank goodness I have many photos of my childhood to help me reminisce.
Posted by: Marika | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 01:45 PM
Yea we bleed red white and blue but liberte egalite et fraternite, ils sont red white and blue, n'est ce pas? Just a tender moment, you are no isle du Coeur mais a world citizen and true American ambassador. You also are a very good writer these days. Made my eyes glisten a bit way over here in Pella, Iowa. God bless you and your family.
Posted by: Winn | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 01:47 PM
Your photo of the wind swept sea is stunning...it took my breath away! As did the overwhelming emotion you so poignantly described. We spend so much time missing what we once experienced, wishing for what we no longer have and relishing in all you do to bring it to us, if just in our hearts. And yet life in France and Germany for us was never forever. We will now read your missives with a new perspective and appreciation, understanding that as you share your beautiful family and your life in France with your readers, your roots are tugging at your heart. I am reminded today of words from an old french song.."Accroche une larme aux nuages at laisse le vent l'emporter..."
Posted by: Christine Allin | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 01:56 PM
I also share your emotions of being torn between where you are and where you have come from. I Moved to New Zealand 38 yrs ago from Canada...Have children and grandkids here(Great grands too) but a couple of them went back and have families there as well.
I have missed deaths ..births and other events, but the family here are Kiwis now and I could never go back. I am just very thankful for Facebook which somehow keeps us all together.....
Posted by: Anne | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 02:37 PM
A VERY NATURL EMOTIONAL FEELING. SAME ONE I HAD, WHEN I STOOD IN THE MIDST OF THE AMERICAN CEMETERY IN NORMANDY. WITH THE STARS AND STRIPS POPPING IN THE BREEZE THE TEARS JUST FLOWED.
Posted by: GUS ELISON | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 02:44 PM
It's probably true of all countries, but born American, I can completely relate to your post at having extreme emotional reactions to situations involving our mutual homeland. A horrifying sense of violation over 911 (I worked at one of the evacuation zone hospitals, and can never forget the events of that day, waiting long, tense hours for trauma victims who never arrived). I too, have had tears after a long absence at my return home again. Tears, too, when I took my kids to DC to see the monuments and the great symbols of our country. I bawled at the Viet Nam vets memorial, stood a little taller watching our president roll past in his cavalcade of red, white and blue SUV's (it was Bubba!) as we stood outside the White House), and gazed in awe at President Lincoln's marble face.... such an amazing man! Being American is something visceral, very deeply emotional, and as you so genuinely portray, two decades of life in another country changes none of that gut deep response! It's not just patriotism, it's a love affair!
Posted by: Holly K | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 03:06 PM
Beautifully expressed. My husband is not American but has lived here for almost 20 years. He says sometimes it's odd to realize he has American children. When I lived abroad I felt myself pulled, almost magnetically, to American places, things, or people. I remember once, though, soon after arriving, going to an American bar, and being shocked at the rowdiness, loudness, and general immaturity of my young peers. I didn't stay, and tried hard to meet locals after that. It's a fine balance.
Posted by: Marie D. | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 03:24 PM
I felt the same on a trip we took to Cancun, on the way back home. Going through the gate for American citizens to re-enter the US at Dallas-Ft Worth airport, put a lump in my throat. Banners that said Welcome Home. Wow, still remember the feeling.
Posted by: Marcia Douglas | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 03:29 PM
My mom was a transplant from Canada (to the USA). She teared up whenever she heard the Canadian National Anthem: O Canada. Being an American kid I remember I thought it funny and strange because my mom was a US citizen. At the time I didn't understand her display of emotion.
Posted by: Jackie | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 03:33 PM
What a great post, Kristin! It's okay to be homesick sometimes! What an awesome thing to love and belong in not just one, but two countries! We here in America love to hear about the adventures in your French life!
And, may I also say, what an incredibly beautiful family you have - Max and Jackie are growing up to be proper heartbreakers! :)
Posted by: Shannon, Alexandria, VA | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 03:38 PM
Dear Kristen, I tear up when they play our song at hockey or baseball games and events, etc. So I totally understand that emotion. It is especially understood during recent events here.
The tenderness showing in your post today is amazing. Thank you for your always thoughtful and very generous writings. -patty
Posted by: Patty Austin near Bethesda, MD | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 04:20 PM
Home is where the heart is. I think yours is big enough to encompass a couple of places.
I heard the expression "fou rire" in a song but do not know what it means.
Posted by: joie in Carmel, Ca. | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 04:27 PM
We in your homeland are all weeping today for the people in Boston and Cambridge. In the most patriotic of cities, a terrible tragedy has occurred and we don't understand how it can keep happening. As a child I never knew of violence except in the newsreels of World War II. Now it is becoming more and more frequent. Pray for us and for all the world to learn to love, not hate. I cry every time I hear the Star Spangled Banner and feel so proud to be an American. Once flying home from vacation in Germany, the airline began playing our national anthem and even though we had only been gone 3 weeks, it brought tears. You are privileged to have two countries as home. We all understand how you felt at the gates of the consulate. We also rejoice that you have found love and happiness in l'Hexagone. God bless America and God bless France.
Posted by: Diane Young | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 05:00 PM
Don't forget that your move to a new area in France and the frustrations involved with doing renovations is also making you feel uprooted and more emotional than usual. Unfortunately, it seems we also become more emotional as we age. We are lucky we can keep connected with distance easier now in this age of technology. Be especially kind to yourself right now until your world becomes more settled once more.
Posted by: Lin Powell | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 05:02 PM
I cried reading your words today and understood perfectly. As a student in France in 1968, I visited the American Cemetery in Normandie. Walking through those gates into my own country, deeded to us by a grateful France, seeing that flag waving in the sunshine, and looking at the pristine white crosses and stars of David, I could not stop the tears from flowing. I was stunned at my reaction, not being, until that moment, someone who had much of a nationalistic bent. We are always pulled back to our roots, no matter how much we adore our new experiences. Thanks for your lovely words.
Polly Adkins, Fort Mill, SC
Posted by: Polly Adkins | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 05:08 PM
Diane, We had just heard the news on our way to Marseilles that day. The block leading to the consulate was lined with armed police and police vans and barricades were set up in front of the consulate.... this many miles from the tragedy. Once inside the consulate, Jackie watched the large screen TV as we waited. That is when she said, Mom, there has been a bombing in Boston... We are all so sad for the families and for everyone affected. Boston definitely has our prayers and is in our thoughts.
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 05:12 PM
Thank you for sharing your emotions. I'd like to read about your daughter's emotions because she would have a French native's perspective, which would be different from an American's. It would be interesting to read about.
Posted by: Sheila in WA State | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 05:12 PM
Our comments echo those of Gus Elison and Polly Adkins. The emotions we felt when we visited the American and Canadian cemeteries in Normandy and the thankful gratitude to our "boys" will never be forgotten.
Angela and Robert Fowler
Posted by: Angela Fowler | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 05:34 PM
Thank you for sharing such intense emotions. You've had so much going on in your life lately that a bit of homesickness can overflow into a river of tears. Bon weekend to you and your whole family.
Posted by: Julie Farrar | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 05:52 PM
Today’s quote – love it! How do you say I heart this beautiful story?
Returning “home” driving north on I-5, I get misty eyed when the first view of Seattle with the Sound glistening to her left comes into view.
Have a lovely day! May you find time to be outdoors this weekend and be soothed by the beauty of nature.
Posted by: Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm ~ Applegate, Oregon | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 05:59 PM
"Home" is powerful. It never fails, even when returning from a delightful visit to France, that I tear-up in immigration when the officer checking my passport says to me, "Welcome home."
Thanks for your heartfelt post. I'm tearful just writing this!
Posted by: Susan, Ridgway, CO | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 06:35 PM
Dear Kristin.. Firstly, your children are both fabulous looking! They definitey will be 'heartbreakers' in the future. When I was about your age and we were living in Paris, I found that I would become an emotional 'basket case' at the sight of our flag or even upon seeing a lonely can of Campbell's soup in a local store! The slightest thing that tugged at my 'heartstrings' would set off a mini-tsunami of tears. I learned to carry a load of tissues in my pocket! I was loving living in Paris so much I knew it could not be homesickness as we had done nothing but move around all of our lives! I spoke to my French GP about this emotional roller-coaster and she said "simplement menapause'! Somehow I never thought about that! Zut! I was only 48 at the time!! I took some fabulous hormone pills for the next two years and they evened out my 'emotional jags' and then I did not take them anymore. I also did not go into overdrive in the tears department either... just normal alligator tears once in a blue moon. Soooo, maybe you are beginning to experience some of the same symptons along with a good dose of patriotism! Cheer up, it does not last forever, merci mon Dieu! Bon weekend, Judi Dunn, Tallahassee, Fl.
Posted by: judi dunn | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 06:52 PM
Some incredibly moving responses today to an incredibly moving post. I'm reminded we are One .. whether in France, United States, Germany, Australia, Poland ... we are One. A world of souls different by nationality, same by origin.
Humanity .. the ultimate Creation.
Posted by: Bill Facker | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 07:06 PM
I was wondering about your daughter's "fou rire"? Once when I was traveling to Hungary with my Belgian family, we were stopped at the border. Our passports were all carefully inspected by a Soviet guard. When he saw my American passport, he looked at me like I was an alien from another planet and I began to laugh nervously. Is this what happened to Jackie?
Posted by: Julie | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 07:48 PM
So Kristen, when will you be starting YOUR American tour so we can all meet and hug you, our famous author/friend?
Posted by: Linda | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 07:52 PM
Bill Facker, so true what you say about everyones words here--incredibly moving.
Linda, Thanks, and what a tempting thought!
Julie, you got it: fou rire = nervous laughter (it may also mean uncontrollable laughter. In Jackies case, like yours, it was the first)
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 08:02 PM
A very special comments thread today, in response to an especially moving anecdote -- what a wealth of common feeling flowing through all of us, no matter the homeland we think of as our first or second!
I can only say that Bill speaks for me too, utterly: "I'm reminded we are One .. whether in France, United States, Germany, Australia, Poland ... we are One. A world of souls different by nationality, same by origin.
Humanity .. the ultimate Creation."
Merci beaucoup, each and all!
Posted by: Kitty Wilson | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 08:16 PM
Our dear Kristi,
Today's eloquent and beautifully expressed post brought tears to my eyes,too.
God bless America,God bless Americans and Bill's words (echoed by Kitty) exactly speak my thoughts.
Thank you,Kristi for giving us the opportunity to unite in sentiment.
Posted by: Natalia | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 08:39 PM
What a moving and beautiful story today. It's natural to feel a tug of emotions when thinking of the place where you grew up and imagined your dream future (that you're now living!). Funny, but I cried when I had to get back on the plane to come home during our trip to France-I didn't want to leave! I think Bill summed it up perfectly.
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for the people of Boston. It has been a really long week around here waiting to find our more about the bombings and grieving for the victims we've lost and those injured. All we can do is pray and hope, as Diane said, that the world learns to love and not hate.
Have a wonderful weekend with your family Kristin!
Posted by: Carolyn Dahm, Sharon, MA | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 11:08 PM
It must be my age (just 70) but I find my eyes are full so often, only this week; West in Texas, Boston, and the parents from Newtown who were in Washington. Even after 44 years in Canada, from England, and fiercly patriotic for my adopted country, I still can't get all the way through O Canada, God Save the Queen, Rule Britannia or Land of Hope and Glory. I am reminded of the old Marlboro ad., you can take the boy out of the country but you can't take the country out of the boy. And why should we even try?
From Vancouver, BC,
Posted by: Peter | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 11:21 PM
I have been away and just read your posting. KNOW THIS - your homeland, country, state, city family, friends are always here for you and your family anytime you want to visit (Puerto Vallarta too). This part of your life is here but changed as you are changed. Change is certain. I think JM would miss France and his youthful life just as you sometimes miss yours if the roles were reversed.
2 years ago I visited the place of my youth - it just is not the same - my fond memories are all the more precious because I now realize how special that time was in that particular town. A sweet innocence. You are creating those special memories for your children. TX 4 sharing. Hugs
Posted by: N Vandenberg, San Antonio, Texas | Friday, April 19, 2013 at 11:47 PM
You really are a writer! Your feelings and emotions so eloquently expressed. So glad to know the passports are kept up to date. That means planned visits. Wonderful! Will not comment on your beautiful children as you and they already know that. Picture of Panier neighborhood. Looks like a painting, not a photo. Love France!
Posted by: Shirley | Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 12:24 AM
Having just heard the news of the Boston bombings may have contributed to your barrage of tears as you stood before the consulate's gates. When I was an exchange student in Lausanne in 1967-68, I was fine until my country suffered the terrible loss by assassination of, first, Martin Luther King, Jr., and then Robert F. Kennedy. Upon learning of each of those horrific, unfathomable events, I just wanted to be home, to grieve with my country's people. Bon courage, Kristin.
Posted by: Leslie in Portland, Oregon | Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 01:54 AM
This has been a very emotional week & todays post brought a smile along with tears. I understand your feelings and all of those who have been to the American cemetaries. We have made it a point to visit as many as possible when we are in Europe & have been to several in France as well as Italy & Luxembourg & there is no way I can hold the tears back. I love the picture of the three of you.
Posted by: Susan Carter (Westminster, CA) | Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 02:08 AM
Great story Kristin --- thank you. I lived in England for 4 years and in Germany for 5 years (USAF). We went to the American consulate in London, then in Frankfort. We had the same response. It's a bitter sweet emotion. We also went to the American cemetery in Luxembourg. Very sad and moving.
All three of you look fabulous!
Posted by: Faye Stampe, Gleneden Beach, OR | Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 02:22 AM
These are tears of joy to some extent I think-like finding a lost but not forgotten friend...funny how they lurk just below the surface and surprise us when we're not expecting them. After a summer of student study in Oxford, England and freelancing in France, I was surprised to be similarly moved to be back in the USA. The castaway towel was a perfect metaphor. Kind regards/Wells Edmundson
Posted by: Wells Edmundson | Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 04:24 AM
Such a touching experience you shared today which brought tears to my eyes, also. It just goes to show that "there is no place like home" (our childhood home).
The photo of you, Jackie and Max is beautiful (handsome for Max and Jean-Marc behind the camera). Bon week-end. I hope your weather will be sunny and warm.
Posted by: Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland) | Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 04:56 AM
As much as I think I'd like to switch lives with you I'm sure I'd have the same reaction. Thank you for your selfless acts of artistry that allow some of us to "live" somewhere else for a few minutes every week. Thank you for also reminding us that there's no place like home (no matter where you're from)! I enjoy reading your posts and have looked everywhere for your books. I'm going to order them online!
Posted by: Lydia | Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 05:58 AM
This, for some reason, is my favorite post ever. Heartfelt, unselfconscious, very very real. From one of your American tribe...
Posted by: Andie | Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 06:03 AM
Thank you Peter for reminding me of the tragedy in Texas this week as well. Our thoughts and prayers are also with all of the people affected by these events as well.
Posted by: Carolyn Dahm, Sharon, MA | Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 02:09 PM
I agree with those above who suggested that it was the past week's events in Boston and Texas that brought on such emotions. You are still one of us and will always be. Thank you so much for your stories over the past years. I think of you as a daughter on an exciting adventure in France and I hope to someday meet you, perhaps if you and Jean-Marc do another cruise next year (?). Best wishes to you always.
Posted by: Peggy Wright | Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 05:00 PM
I was living in London in 1963 when JFK was assassinated.. It was about 6 pm, GMT. I was desperate to go to the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square, but we had a tiny baby, my husband started drinking Scotch . . . In short, the trip was impossible. But the next morning, I learned that hundreds of Americans had congregated at the Embassy when they heard the news -- Odd as it seems, there is something real about being on a patch of land that the powers- that-be have declared to be our own, albeit "only" by the legal definition.
Posted by: Susan Klee | Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 09:26 PM
I've lived in the Washington, D.C. area most of my life, yet I find that I am as moved as tourists when I take family and friends to see the sights. Last spring, for example, we went to Arlington Cemetery, and watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. I got choked up - as I did at the Kennedy gravesite, 49 years after I'd first visited it.
Having lived in a few foreign countries, mostly in the Middle East, and visited some others, including East Germany for a day, I was reminded how very fortunate we are to live in the USA (or other democratic countries), in terms of both freedom and standard of living. When I returned to America after a year in Lebanon at age 12, I was thrilled to be back home. I experienced much the same feeling on subsequent trips, although as an older traveler, had learned not to take for granted our way of life, and to appreciate what other nations have to offer.
Because I was born in France (although we left when I was a year old, and I've visited only briefly since, last time in 1979), I will always have a feeling that I am part-French. Indeed, my father used to tease me that when I turned 21, I would be drafted into the French army. If I had to choose somewhere else to live, it probably would be France. On the other hand, because of the roots I have from decades in the USA, I would find it hard to change at this point.
Kristin, I understand your mixed emotions. But I hope that most of the time, you will feel that you have TWO countries, TWO homes, and will always feel welcome in both.
Posted by: Marianne Rankin | Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 10:13 PM
comme je vous comprends, je suis native de provence, suis partie en angleterre pour 30 ans. Le fossé entre ces deux pays est immense. OUI nous appartenons à deux culture. mais peut etre ce fossé à était pour moi une façon de me séparer de mes parents et de m'individualiser! Mes enfants étant maintenant adultes je suis heureuse de pouvoir etre de nouveau en provence pour re integrer mom pays, cela est visceral! courage Kristin et merci pour partager avec nous. Big hugs :) ps: l am off to buy some croissants now which l am going to share later with my dear friend from Britain who live in the next village, we are going to do some couture together!
Posted by: jos | Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 07:11 AM
It was so interesting to see the picture of the little coffee place where you regrouped after going to the consulate. There is a little coffee place across the street from the French consulate in Los Angeles that looks identical, down to the little round metal tables on the sidewalk. I have sat there with my daughter twice now as we have waited for her Visa appointments times. (We're always afraid we'll be late, as the traffic on the freeways can be so crazy making.)
I am an American mama, but part of my heart is on French soil at the moment as my daughter thrives in her life in Paris.
All those 1,000s of miles can be hard at times. I am so proud of her, but my tears can flow eastward.
Posted by: Lois | Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 07:16 AM
Kristi, I brought my children up to realize that a good cup of tea could help solve almost any problem, and obviously J-M agrees (tea, coffee, it's the same). As I prepared for a wedding last week, I was teary at the strangest little things. (It began with your word "meltdown" last Monday, see my comment), and continued through-out the week until Friday when we had to leave Cambridge during a lock-down for the NY wedding. The last Boston guests made it out of Boston later in the day after they found working transport. For the first time, The NY Yankee fans didn't tease us Bostonians, but played our song instead. The NY'ers concern for Bostonians was clear-and made us teary eyed. I don't pay any attention to sports usually, but one of the most emotional moments last week happened at the beginning of a Bruins game. Normally, the audience impatiently listens to the national anthem eagerly waiting for the beginning of the game., but last week, the entire arena started spontaneously singing ..."bombs bursting through the air...gave proof ..that our flag as still there"..... Only after long minutes of clapping was the game able to begin. There were no dry eyes there, and I've been drinking lot's of cups of tea. And the wedding? A perfect oasis of love, joy, and the beauty of life. (just like your family in that photo). It seems that no matter what topic you choose, it relates to all of our lives; that's why we keep reading. Aren't we all lucky to have found this little community in the world?
Posted by: Nancy, Cambridge | Monday, April 22, 2013 at 05:16 PM
I have often fantasized about living in France, but I think our time for doing this has passed. But, I never once really thought about how hard and what it would mean to me to be AWAY from the US-- I was only thinking of 'GOING TO' not 'LEAVING FROM.' You really gave me something to think about - and I admire your ability to make a life for yourself in another country - and one that you share with us so beautifully. I had tears in my eyes, too, when I read your story today. You have such a beautiful family, what a fantastic life you and Jean-Marc have made.
Posted by: Judi Boeye Miller, Lake Balboa, CA | Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 09:03 AM
I get it Kristin! I think you are a great writer to capture all that emotion in the last line!
Posted by: April | Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 04:00 PM
Like Lydia, I sometimes wish I could live abroad. I did for several years in the 80's live in France and Germany, and turned down the opportunity to live in Germany(for possibly permanent, like you). One reason I turned it down, even though it sounded romantic and all, was because I missed the U.S.A. so much. I felt torn.
Now, I am torn too at the experiences I missed but, with that said, I love me country so much and can't sing our national anthem with crying and getting choked up. It's difficult to describe those feelings and I appreciated your imagery of the 'towels' feelings.
Posted by: leslie | Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 11:26 PM
So sorry, for the typos, I'm not on my own keyboard. Another person in France right now who is feeling the same way is www.designmom.com
Posted by: leslie | Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 11:27 PM
Love, love this post! The photo of Marseille and the sea is breathtaking! I had the same reaction as Gus when I visited the American Cemetery in Normandy. I thought of all those brave men and how their final resting place is in another land.
Kristin, what does "fou rire" mean?
I was also wondering if you all laugh when you hear Americans say, "Have a nice day"
Posted by: Eileen - Charlottesville, VA | Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 02:40 PM
Thank you, Eileen! A fou rire is an uncontrollable laugh. Sometimes out of embarrassment, sometimes just because somethings funny. In this case, it was a serious moment that provoked Jackies laughter. She was about to be asked to swear the truth by an American consulate official. The process was touching to say the least :-)
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 03:20 PM
Really neat post and interesting to read others comments. So I'll join in... My family and I, my wife and four sons, returned to the US a year ago after 12 years in Italy (2) and Germany (10). A lot of trepidation about returning but my career was at the point where I had to return. 3rd son was born in Naples Italy (he still thinks he is Neopolitan and we encourage it) and 4th son was born in Wurzburg Germany. He was bilingual up to about 3 months back and still thinks of himself as German. Well... It has been a rough transition back even despite moving to the same town we left 13 years ago and the addition of my mother in law to that same town. We have reconnected with her and this has been fabulous but are having a lot of trouble reconnecting with our community. I returned a year ago yesterday, 23 Apr 12. What has become dramatically clear is that we are not the same people who left America 12 years ago with 1 and half kids. America has changed so much too. Hate to say it but fear is almost tangible in the air and as we left before 9/11, we left a country not tainted by the violence that a lot of other countries through out the world deal with every day. I could go on about this for days but my viewpoint is that Europe and France have learned a great deal over the last couple of centuries; things that the US are just now having to face and figure out. Personally, I would go back tomorrow if I could. I missed the US of A a lot like you. Two of my sons were born in Europe. My father died while I was away. Nieces and nephews got married. Peoples lives moved on. And every major event in the US required an 8 hour flight in a tin can to get back to. Now that I'm back; I realize I missed something I cannot hold onto. Some slightened version of reality, a dream or vision of America that just does not exist anymore. Today, the US of A is not the one I remember. But still, I dream of the ideal that we can manipulate and shape. You know that American Dream thing... If you were born and raised here it almost becomes a part of your DNA. From one who was there and came back; be confident and proud of your American heritage but continue to embrace France and don't look back.
Posted by: Scott | Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 04:17 PM
Scott, Thanks for sharing your story!
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Great post Kristin, with comments by readers to match. Thanks to you Kristin for what someone beautifully called your "selfless acts of artistry." Your insights and courageous disclosures broaden my world.
Posted by: Gordon Lyman | Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 07:31 PM
Written from the heart. Loved your post, it really flowed. xx
Posted by: Delia Bourne | Tuesday, May 07, 2013 at 03:03 PM
Your writing just gets better and better. Great post.
Posted by: Karen W (Parkton, Md) | Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 04:01 PM
Lou bogue said, Great post, your talent just gets better with time, can't wait for the future, love to all the family, see you soon.
Posted by: lou bogue | Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 06:49 AM