Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Regrets, Fears, and ... Dreams

Glancing at this article this morning brought up a flood of desire.

I am a francophile. I love all things French. I took four years of French in high school (most people took 2) and I was a french minor in college. Completing a french minor ranks in the "Top 5 Hardest Things I've Ever Done In My Life" as the upper level classes in literature were very, very challenging for me. But the classes in conversation and culture? I rocked those.

I still try to practice my French as often as I can, and luckily I have a patient and indulgent friend who is a native French speaker from Belgium (and her children indulge me too). Sometimes she'll say a word and I won't recall it's English translation until a couple hours later. I keep it in the front of my mind, mulling it over, and then it comes back to me, so clearly. I am comforted that there is more French than I am aware of in the back of my mind, waiting to be unlocked by a conversation, a familiar phrase, an immersion.

I am fortunate that I only have 2 regrets in my life. One regret is that I didn't do a year of service after finishing college. I was scared of my enormous student loans, I was scared of not making money for a year, and I was scared of leaving my boyfriend (who is now my husband). My other regret is that I didn't spend a semester abroad in France while in college or immediately after. Studying abroad wasn't quite as common as it is now, my university didn't have a formal program set up, I had secured a position as an RA and didn't want to lose it, I was worried about the extra costs. All very good reasons but I still regret that I never did it.

My fear now is that I'll never go. That I'll wake up one day and be 85 and it will be too late. That I'll always let this fear of spending the surely exorbitant sum that it would cost to spend a significant amount of time there dictate my choices. There will always be house trim to replace, a kitchen to update, um, kid's braces !!! I also don't think that I would ever want to leave my children for more than just a couple days. I just don't think it's right. And I'm not sure that Mr. Quimby would get enough enjoyment out of such a trip to justify his costs. Or that he would even want to go.

I just don't strike me as the type of person who would die with this regret - the type of person who allows fear to dictate choice. I am the type of person who finds a way and makes things happen, and still ... as I'm writing my eyes fill with tears because what if I am the former rather than the latter?

Mr. Quimby and I have taken exactly ONE vacation in the past 13 years that was not connected with his work (but to be fair, we've traveled A LOT within the US on his business trips). And that ONE vacation was pretty cool since we spent 8 days in Ireland. If we've only mangaged 1 in 13 years, how can I expect to go to France for 2 weeks (which would be my minimum). We're spending a weekend at the beach in September, and that's a pretty big deal for us.

When I started thinking about this earlier today while sipping a diet coke and reading the article, I thought "I'm almost 36. I'll promise myself that I'll go by the time I'm 41." But those are the type of absolutes and grand expectations that I find most comfortable to stay within in my psyche - and they're not always the right framework within which to operate. Then I thought, "I'll go after I lose weight and get to a healthy place." But that still leaves the question of how I will fund such a trip. "Maybe I'll go with my girls, when they are teenagers and have taken French in high school. We could do a house exchange with another family to keep the costs down." But that's such a long time ...

I'm not sure how to end this post because this issue is still quite unsettled in my mind.


Elaine said...

Ed and I biked across the Loire Valley before I got pregnant with Connor. We will definitely be going back. And if we have to take Auntie Ellen with us? Well that would freakin' ROCK! Seriously. Ed speaks remedial French, and I took one class in preparation for our last trip, so my French is worse than remedial. We could really use your talents. I'm with you though, about the kids, so they'll be coming with us - or we'll be waiting a good number of years to go back.

vickie2005 said...

I did not know that about you!! And I'm glad to know it. I used to think of French food as too fussy, but after reading Julia Child's My Life In Paris I now have dreams of taking courses in French cooking just to improve my own home cooking skills. And I dream of travelling to France and Spain and other places just to EAT.

I regret not travelling more with Benjie when we were childless...and unlike you, I CANNOT wait to ditch the kiddos with relatives for a couple of weeks when they're older so Benjie and I can escape somewhere!!

The Lowe said...

It's funny but 2 of your regrets is what I did - I went to France immediately after college and volunteered on an excavation!

You WILL go - even if I have to put you on the plane myself.

A thought: Quebec isn't so far away if you'd just like to get a feel for a French speaking country.

Laurie said...

My high school English teacher has always been my travel inspiration. She described herself as a travel luster and poor. She would scour the papers for rate drops on airfare and whenever she saw a deal, she would take Friday off work and go to Italy or France or wherever in Europe for a long weekend! She stayed in cheap places and didn't eat out fancy. You are such a terrific thrifter, I have no doubt you'll find a thrifty way to go. My max on travel without the kids is 1 week and that's still tough for me.

PS- my biggest college regret is not doing study abroad too and not going to the Peace Corp afterwards. Similar reasoning..didn't want to leave Scott for that long.

Silvia said...

I like Therese's suggestion of Quebec parceque c'est ne pas tres loin de Toronto (and in case I butchered that as much as I think I did, I meant to say because it's not too far from Toronto). I also like Elaine's thoughts - Milk Moms in France would indeed ROCK! And who knows maybe one day one of your girls will do an exchange and you'll have to go visit :)

Blogging tips