The more we live, the more we grow. The more we travel, the more we learn. The more trials, stumbling blocks, frustrations and sadnesses we experience, and if possible overcome, the more our confidence could grow; or, the more our sense of humility and gratefulness for our place in this world is deepened.
Perhaps trite, perhaps a bit over much. But, there's a reason my closest friends are women who've lived through difficult separations, women who are at times struggling, and yet always find it in themselves to be generous, to listen, to come to another's aid. Who can judge another? Whose right is it to be the arbiter of what is truly acceptable?
I've had one of those cross cultural moments (yet again). I love living in France, but I am tempted to live in the States. This makes sense. It's the world I come from, and a world I hope my boys will know and perhaps love as I do. I'm still toying with the question of where they will some day go to college, and where I'll be best able to communicate values and structure to them.
So, I'm tempted by America, and in that case, Americans? Yes, if I could live a whole life, and bring my children into a home with a traditional "archetypal" family. I'd like to provide them that. The articles I've read in the past months tend to stress that above all, children need structure and reassurance post-divorce. Far worse to move your way through multiple love affairs, encouraging the children to grow attached to a new 'almost' parent, and then have it all fall apart. Second marriages, recombined families, these can be wonderful or, add to the mess of emotional confusion. So it's rather risky either way.
Thus, living in Avignon, taking in boarders, adjusting to my current life. All this is pretty much okay for my boys as I'm there, and I'm consistently there, and my rules and requests are clear and understood. So, do I accept the virtues of my current arrangement (love on the weekends, family during the weeks), or listen to that little voice inside who wishes I could put all that together into one package?
To that end, I am confronted by the complex person that I am, and the reactions I inspire in others. To put it simply:
In France, a first impression sees that I am female, blond(ish), a bit flighty, and American. Any notion of substance or past education, etc., come later, though I do always get the "if only I could speak English like you speak French" comment.
In the US, I come across as hyper-verbal (perhaps joyously speaking my mother tongue which I master just a bit better than French?), East-Coast and Waspy. It's a visual thing, but also a family thing. In any case, I apparently intimidate and overwhelm. Watch out for the babbling blond....
And so, I fall back on playing monopoly with my two very amused and happy boys. Realestate moguls both, they left me indebted to the nth degree, till I begged out of the game.