It’s Friday morning, 7:40am. I’m having my morning coffee on our balcony in Charenton Le Pont, France — my second home. (Or is it my first home by now?). It’s a charming little community just outside Paris proper on metro line 8, one Hemingway mentions in A Moveable Feast: “There was better fishing in Charenton, where the Marne came into the Seine, and on either side of Paris, but there was very good fishing in Paris itself.”
I left Charenton only six or so weeks ago and didn’t expect to be back until the fall after a focused, hard-working summer spent saving money, studying le français and researching how to acquire a long-stay visa. Like the saying goes, life happens when you’re making other plans. And so here I am. However it came to be, it feels so good to be home again.
This is our view. It overlooks a courtyard and parking area (which is not so pretty for photos), but when I stand out here in the early mornings, I always look up. So I took a photo of ‘up’ for you. The sun is shining and the sky is blue today, et mon Michel is sleeping in the next room. Yes, he is home from the hospital (more on that in a minute). All is quiet, I’m relaxed and rested, and savoring this peaceful feeling because it’s so unlike how I’ve been feeling the past few weeks.
The journey from Alaska to this was a long and stressful one. I’ll fast forward past the complaining about how unpleasant it is to travel for more than 24 hours, and all the worries and panic attacks, because that really could take all day and all that matters now is that I’m here, and so is Michel, and my heart is no longer pounding out of my chest. Today is a good day.
During my layover in Seattle my dear friend Cynthia picked me up in the early morning hours to take me to breakfast. As we were walking through the Hyatt in Bellevue, Michel called with great news: his latest test results came back and the doctors agreed to release him the next day! Cynthia and I grinned in unison, “YAYYYY YAY YAY!!!!” I’d be arriving just hours before he’d be released! While I had hoped he’d be able to come home at some point during my stay, I didn’t expect that. *Breathes.*
Upon arrival in Paris, our friend Charly picked me up at the airport. He was there! And on time! (Take note, Michel! lol) He greeted me with a big smile and hug and that was a very good moment. Here. Phew. We made our way back to the apartment, dropped off my bags, then hopped right back on the metro and straight to the hospital to collect Michel. Oh that smile! And that hug that lasted for a very, very long time. All the checklists and laundry piles and security checkpoints and worries and sleepless nights … they were all were worth it in that very long hug.
He looked a bit thinner but handsome and strong and wonderful. We headed home and were all very hungry, so stopped for a fine lunch at a brasserie in Charenton. The sun was shining and I had my guy’s hand in mine as we said goodbye to Charly and walked back home. Finally. Home. Together. Relaxed in our little Parisian apartment. Aaaaaaaaaaah.
A lot of people are asking how he’s doing (by the way, thank you for that) and I can tell you that he’s been through a lot in the last weeks: very painful treatments with no guarantees, but most miraculous results. We both credit your support and prayers and campaign to get me here as a huge component in giving him the strength to fight and endure it all. He’s on the mend and coming through to the other side, where we intend to keep him. My job now, the reason why I’m here, is to ensure he is taking good care of himself — plenty of rest and relaxation, low stress, a bit of exercise (walks in the sunshine today!) and good nutrition. His restrictive diet is a healthy one and good for us both, but like, phew … the doctors allow a glass of wine with dinner because it’s France and we love France.
Jetlag has been brutal, but I’m nearly acclimated and looking forward to getting into routine and even getting some work done. Now, besides getting healthy, our other priority is to figure out a way for me to be in France as much as I need to be, because worrying about visas is really something we need to remove from the equation. It’s a bit of a torturous bureaucratic process but we’ve got to put it front burner now. I don’t ever want to feel like I can’t be here for him because of some regulation. Yes, getting married is an option and it’s on the table but believe you me, it’s not just that simple. We would be married by now if it were. I’m American and as such, there is a whole process. We’re doing the research, getting all of the documents we need, filling out forms, etc. We’re also looking into all other options as well. I will, of course, keep you all posted.
Thank you for getting me home, y’all.