When we arrived – completed drained from the process of getting ourselves moved, business arranged, cars sold, etc, not to mention the prior stressful years, I had this image of getting there and just being able to collapse. House? Ready and furnished. Poolside chairs? Check. Me? Comatose on poolside chair.
However the first month felt a lot more stressful and busy than my vision had laid out. Suddenly we were strangers in a new culture, all the small details to get used to. The restaurants, which didn’t open til 7 pm or later. Not knowing our way around, even in the grocery store. Our ears had to acclimatize to a new language and us to the time change. The first few days were a blur. We arrived from the airport JUST in time to sign up for school, in fact the sign up morning had closed so we were sent directly from the Marie (town hall) to the school to meet La Directrice. Tris and the kids sat a shady table blissfully having lemonade while I headed in with our documents, brain running at half functionality or so, having had no food or drink since the overnight flight, feeling sweaty and clumsy-tongued.
Once they were accepted, based on our having housing nearby, we had further instructions about the cafeteria, buses, and the after-school program called TAP. There was an afternoon to check out and sign up for after school activities. They needed doctors visits to confirm fitness for any activities. All of which had us in lines, hot and confused, talking to polite people with our not yet fully switched on French.
We didn’t have a car yet or a bank account. Each of which required multiple days of documents, interviews, and for the car, trips around the region to car lots.
There was surprisingly little relaxing by the pool, I remember more digging through documents, being lost on small winding streets trying to find addresses, nervous about driving the car along those narrow one-way streets, feeling foreign in the grocery store.
And once the kids were in school, they were stressed too, since all of them naturally found it a lot to adjust to. Hot, confusing, social stress, work that was challenging, a cafeteria to navigate, and very long days. After school when the gates opened at 4:45 they were all done in, in various states of distress.
Kat on the right: First Day Discomfort by the Class Lists
We would head home for a too-short evening to eat, recover in the pool, get ready for the next day, with reactive, stressed kids.
By the time we had a van, activities sorted out, a bank account (which seemed to take forever) and had found a bit of flow and comfort, it was near to mid October, weather had turned chilly, we weren’t in the pool, and the first two week school break was on us.
So somehow my early vision that kept me going towards getting us moved, to finally be in a state of relaxation beside the pool, didn’t seem to really happen. It was busy, intense, interesting, stressful, and sometimes fun. We did discover a few nice red wines to help the integration process.
And this year my inspiration vision has me sitting down on the balcony facing Canigou, with a hot coffee beside me. But we already have a car, bank account, and familiarity that makes me pretty sure there will be some proper relaxing by the pool this time at last.
Yes oh yes please!