My eyes popped open suddenly last night, boring into the darkness. But the darkness was broken by flashes of lightning and a loud boom that could have been thunder or the tree at the corner that fell during the night.
My mind didn't care which. It began racing.
What was I doing?
Was the house really going on the market in a week? Were we going to leave behind the house we bought 10 years ago, where the children attended school, where Earl and I walked to dance class, where I trudged most days to the coffee shop with my computer bag slung over my arm so that I could tap out books that inevitably focused on my longing for France?
But while I was longing for France, did I forget to find the joy of everyday life in my little burg?
If we sell our house here, the number one school district in central Ohio, we will never be able to afford a house here again. We hope to sell the house for an amount we couldn't afford now.
I spent some time today trying to figure out how we could keep the house even if Earl retires, and we might be able to, but we would sacrifice that other thing we've been wanting to do -- moving to France, traveling, exploring, having adventures.
We could stay here, and I could add an extra job to the two teaching jobs I already have. I could convince Grace and Jack to move into the refinished basement where they would only need to share the kitchen upstairs.
But that would mean giving up our dream.
Earl would be free to write and travel and explore, but not with me because I would be working more hours.
Perhaps if we had a place to move to then it wouldn't be so scary. We've sold houses before, but we always knew where we were moving afterwards, had a warm home waiting for us, but not this time.
Our plan is to stay in Ohio until December when Earl will retire, yet we have no place to move too if the house does sell. Apparently, homes are selling within hours of going on the market. That would still give us a month or so to find some place to live for the remaining three months, but the pressure has begun to build.
And then when we go to France, we don't have a house purchased. We thought we'd rent for a few months in different places to figure out where we want to live, but our we endangering our security, our future, by not owning property?
If I share my doubts with Earl, rather than the two of us talking it out, he's quick to come down on a black or white side. "Forget it, we won't go," or, "don't be ridiculous, of course, we're going" when I just need to bounce ideas around.
And when he tells people we are moving to France, he still says that it is my dream. I thought it was our dream now, but if it's only me then should we be going?
On top of all the tumultuous thoughts, I fell this morning on the last step of our concrete porch, landing on my left knee and my telephone. The screen cracked on my phone. The bone under my knee, that one that kind of sticks out, is really sticking out now and has turned purple. It swelled up like a bump on someone's head.
That just gives me an excuse to sit in a recliner and give all the confusing thoughts in my head a chance to run amok.
Do I take the plunge, take a chance, selling the house and travel around France and other European destinations? Or should we play it safe and find a way to hold onto our little, but expensive, house?
Yesterday, I talked to a friend who really shook me up. She is very bohemian and non-materialistic, yet she does amazing things. She told me she is not afraid to fail. She didn't add, but I see, that she also is able to do amazing things because she isn't tied down to a soulless job. She doesn't have an Instagrammable home, but she has amazing experiences.
We met only shortly, but based on experience (mine and friends'), you are doing the right thing to sell the house. Ask anybody who had to empty their parents' home. Not fun. So get a good price for your place. It's going to be too big for you as an empty nest anyway. Maybe your kids would want to live there years from now, but maybe not. And if not, maybe they would feel obliged to give up their own dream because of the house. You can sell and invest the money.
Your dream has been to live in France. I can attest that it has many challenges. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. Maybe you come for a year or two or three and just rent. There are opportunities here for flippers, but is that how you want to spend your time? Plus you really need to know technical stuff about construction/plumbing/electricity in French. So maybe you buy but for yourselves, not to flip, or you just rent. I think you should do it, even if it's for a short time, because otherwise it will always haunt you.
And if you decide the adventure is over and you want to move back, then move back! To an apartment that's adapted for aging in place, where you can enjoy life and not feel like a burden to your kids. (At least that is my plan.)
It's very traumatic to leave your long-time home. My husband about broke down when he left the house he had built with his own hands and had lived in for over two decades. But nothing stays forever. It's always good to change when it's your choice, vs. when it's forced on you.
I'm listening Paulita, to you And those who comment. I wish I had some answers but they would be my answers, not befitting you. I can understand all your questioning. It would be remarkable of you didn't go through this type of "what am I doing" phase or moment. I hope your readers help you sort out what's important to you.
What you are experiencing is normal and you will most likely experience similar feelings again and again. I think you will regret not taking the leap.. Failing is okay and a part of life, failure is fertilizer and it makes you stronger. Life isn't about playing it safe and working until you can no longer work. Don't look at it as a forever decision, take it a year at a time. Bottom line, listen to your heart and not what your readers say. We just came back from a six month trip that scared the bajeebee's out of me! Homeschooled the kids for a year and traveled to many "not so,safe" countries. It was scary to take the leap but I'm so glad we did ! It didn't always look like I planned but I am so grateful we experienced such an adventure together as a family. The more you step outside your comfort zone, the more confidence it gives you. I feel like Dan and I and our kids can do just about anything now a days. You've got this and no matter what you decide, it's your decision. It's no one else's business and you need to take other people's opinions off the table.
Paulita, I wouldn't begin to advise you, to tell you to follow your dream (your concerns are real ones, and pretty darned important) or not. But are there alternatives?
For example, are you in the Columbus area? (My good friends live there -- I love that region!). Might you find an incoming prof who would be willing to rent for a year while you two go and do your dream. Or someone else, but for whatever reason, I think of profs as being a little more responsible in the rental world! You would still be making money on the house to cover taxes, insurance and all that (but probably not enough to travel completely unless you have some saved up you were planning to use.) My neighbor did that when she went to med school in Oregon. She rented her house for four years to a PhD student and his wife -- they were in their 30s, both fiscally sound. Glorious neighbors and I will miss them like crazy, since he got a job at Seton Hall. But it preserves what you have for awhile, gives you a year to see if that IS what you really, truly want to do and if it is, then sell it. Maybe even the renter would rent with the option to buy, should the home go on the market. Of course, it would mean putting things in storage for a year or so, but that might be a small price to pay.
It sure doesn't solve anything, but it might be a way you can have your cake, eat it and see if you want the whole boulangerie.
Anyway, it's worth a thought. I do know that two houses on my block sold within hours of going on the market -- with multiple offers. You may well find yourself renting sooner rather than later as it is...
Going through the same thing. We live 40 minutes outside of Vancouver BC. My husband wants to move to Mexico but I want a hme base in Canada. He says fine we can move to Vancouver Island, maybe Victoria. Our oldest just moved last week to Yellowknife ,NWT and our youngest(35) lives 15 minutes away. I mention that I will miss my son and our friends and he goes fine we won't move! He hates how busy and noisy it is and also suffers such bad wonderlust. He never stops mentioning getting an rv and travelling everywhere with it. He never really considers the financial aspect of things. If we move from here we will never be able to return. We know of two couples who sold up and moved to the island and then moved back here cause of their kids. One rebought, the other can only rent.
I am surprised that you have doubts because I always thought reading your blog that you were so focused and had such a vision and I would wish I was more like you. Go for your dream, life is short. For now I will keep the voices in my head on mute.
A lot of us are in your position, I imagine. We have so many more options than our parents and (certainly) our grandparents, and it makes us anxious.
I wish I could tell you exactly what to do. I imagine that whatever happens, wherever you decide to live, you will have some wonderful good times and some disappointments. That seems to be how life goes.
First, I just want to say thank you to everyone who read and commented, and those who didn't comment but still felt a pang of something for me. You guys are so reassuring.
My initial panic of Tuesday has subsided some, along with the bump on my knee.
I'm back on track to focus on the dream I want of moving to France.
Francetaste, I know you are coming from a place of losing your parents and being left with so much to take care of.
Just Me, A lot of times when I'm writing, I can picture you listening, so thanks for being there.
Barefoot in Hawaii, I know that you have been there, leaving behind places you love, so thanks for your encouragement.
Jeanie, You're right. Columbus is lovely, but the croissants will never be as good, or all the other things that draw me to France. I need to try it.
Shelagh, Thanks for commenting. It sounds like your husband jumps to both extremes like mine can. Surprisingly, after he read my blog post the other day, he came home to talk to me about it and reassured me that it's okay to have doubts and he has bought into the dream; it isn't just my dream. Deciding what to do, especially in relation to the kids can be heartwrenching.
Deb, True that we have such a wealth of options, we should be embarrassed instead of wining. I'd better revel in my opportunities while I can.
Thanks again to everyone.
My husband, our ten-year old son and I went to France on vacation in 2001. It was our first time in France and we didn't speak French, although I speak Spanish. While in northwest France, we saw a house for sale, decided to look at it just for fun and ended up making an offer on it the next day. It was the most spontaneous thing we have ever done. That was in July and we had to wait 60 days before closing escrow because the house was more than 100 years old. Then 9/11 happened and we were terrified to even get on a plane to Europe, let alone move to a foreign country. We didn't want to lose our $30,000 deposit so we went through with the purchase.
We put our house in Denver up for sale and due to 9/11 it was a year before the first buyer came to see it. In the meantime, we planned, dreamed and prepared emotionally for our move. We took French lessons, made decisions about our furniture and visited our house at Christmas and spring break. We knee the house needed much renovations and met with contractors to establish a plan. It was very complicated because of the language issue but we found enough people who spoke enough English and were patient with us.
Long story short, we moved there in 2003 and our son went to school for 6th and 7th grades. It was the best thing we have ever done as a family. We returned to California so our son could attend American high school and college, but returned every summer and other holiday we could. We ended up selling in 2010 and I still miss our time there. In fact, we are thinking of returning to rent, look around and buy a house in southwest France. My advice to you is to go with your dreams. We learned some lessons about renovating and selling and we would definitely still do it, but in a more informed, less expensive way. That is another story I would be willing to share with you if you like. Best of luck
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