The first month back was very difficult, just adjusting to the noise and traffic and fast paced lifestyle here in Los Angeles. We were used to living in a house where there were probably 5 cars that went by in a day, and of course Laurent's tractor (down and back up to the farm). The only horns we heard honking were either from Nadine & Bernard coming in from Toulouse for a weekend stay at their home Lauérié or Grandma (Laurent & Nadine's mother) as she went to the boulangerie (toot toot). It always made us smile.
I don't smile when I hear the horns here in Los Angeles. They don't sound like (toot toot), they sound loud, long, aggressive.
The one thing that has been very easy is returning to the studio. It's like we never left. Slipping back into teaching art and spending time with the kids was a breeze. We were lucky to have our business to come back to, to have a job, to have amazing customers who stuck with us for the year we were gone.
We couldn't move back into our house because it is currently being rented out. Sure, we could have told the tenants they were out, but they are really nice people, take great care of the house, so why disrupt their lives. We moved into the Archstone Apartments, in Playa del Rey.
They call it "resort living" and it's great. 2 bedroom/2 bathroom, hardwood floors, fitness center, pool, dog run (that's not just a run, it's about the size of a football field all grass and fenced in) which is perfect for the kids, 5 minute walk to the beach and safe. We moved into another Archstone 2 months before we left for France because our house rented early and we liked it there, so figured we'd move back to another one. It's great...but it's not France!
We sold Claude, our lovely 1985 Peugeot, 2 days before we left France. We were both really sad to see him go. That car took us all over France and even to Belgium. He was a great car. We had to buy a car when we arrived home. We wanted something small and test drove many cars, but they all seemed a bit cheap. We then decided to test drive a VW GTI (turbo) and Bruce fell in love with hit. We decided to go for it. Here's our new car. It's great. Small, but roomy and super fast.
What we had hope to do in France is open a summer camp for kids from the states. Introduce them to rural france, the lifestyle, the history, the people, etc.... They would stay with us (in our home) and in the morning we'd do art, then an hour of french and then activities in the afternoon (biking, rockclimbing, kayaking, zip lining, hiking, swimming). We'd shop together at the open market, cook together and visit villages, pre-historic caves, etc... We are still moving forward with that idea. This summer we are taking 12 kids to the Aveyron to spend 17 days in rural france. We'll be staying at our friends property Les Aleis. We'll all fly in together and eat, create and play together. It's going to be amazing and life changing. We'll spend 15 days in the Aveyron and then 2 days in Toulouse before heading home. This summer 1 group, next summer maybe 2-3 groups. We are excited to be going back and even more excited to be bringing kids over to see the amazing Aveyron.
We still try and speak french to each other a few times a week so that we don't loose what we gain in the year living there. I listen to french music when I run and still read my children's books. I also write to our friends (emails) who don't speak English, although it takes me forever!
Life is unpredictable and you have to adjust to things that come your way. If Plan A doesn't work, move to Plan B, if B falls through, move to Plan C. Sometimes the timing isn't right. Our plan to stay didn't workout, but that's not stopping us from moving forward to get us back there. We are working on it and we know it will happen. Our goals are written down and we have a plan.