adventures of an american housewife in the south of france

One Year in France

It's hard to believe that it's been over a year since we said good-bye to San Francisco and started our long journey across the country and back to the Midwest.  It's hard to believe that exactly one year ago today, after a very frustrating trip, we arrived in Montpellier, exhausted and scared without a place to stay.  Relatively speaking, a year is not that long, but in other ways our life before France seems a million years ago. When I think about picking up our lives in San Francisco and leaving our beloved city that brought us so much joy, this is the memory that plays out in my mind:   We're getting ready to leave.  The moving truck is packed, the house is clean and empty, and we're headed to the Penske station to get the car attached to the truck hitch.  Michael starts down in the street in the 16-foot moving truck that's carrying our entire world, and I'm left sitting in the car in the driveway with Fig.  I turn on the car, and literally, the second I turn it on, Journey's, "Lights" comes on the radio.  I laugh at how fitting this whole scenario is and stay in the driveway for another second looking up at the house.  Our first house together that witnessed so many memories, our proposal, the start of our life together and the end of our chapter in California.  I pull out of the driveway and start down Sanchez street towards 24th.  All of Noe Valley is glittering before me in the elusive April sun as Steve Perry belts out, "Oh I wanna be there, in my city..."   and I lose it.  I sob and sob and sob the whole damn way to the Penske station in big ugly cries thinking, why am I leaving you?  By the time I meet up with Michael, I'm a mess and all he can do is hug me and tell me everything is going to be ok.

And of course everything is ok.  It's great, actually.  But that memory reminds me that even though moving to France was a no-brainer, actually leaving San Francisco was not easy.  It's one of the hardest things I've done and there are some days here that I long to have that life back.  But even if we did go back to that life, I know it would never be the same.  The dynamic has changed, shifted, evolved.  We aren't the same people we were when we left San Francisco and our San Francisco has changed too.  Time did not stop for us. If you had a chance to read the Design Sponge post I wrote a few weeks ago about Montpellier, then you already know how much I've grown to love this city.  The vibrant culture, the slower pace of life, the amazing weather, and of course the food.  We're getting the chance to live out our dream, and the experience so far has been everything we've hoped for.  It's so wonderful to be able to spend so much time with Michael, just the two of us, traveling and exploring our new world.  This past weekend I read back through a few of the posts that I wrote before we moved and when we first arrived in France, and I had to laugh about some of our early assumptions and perceptions. I never thought I would find a French wine I love as much as a California Zin, and I certainly never thought my first choice for a dinner out on the town would have anything to do with steak or duck.  The language barrier has been about what we expected, but that obstacle has taught us a lot about patience.  Not being able to communicate is a very humbling experience and we've definitely learned to just take things as they are and roll with the punches.  Sometimes you think you're drinking lemonade but it turns out to be lemon concentrate, and that's just the way life is going to go that day.

another gorgeous day in Montpellier

While at times very frustrating, these experiences have been once in a lifetime opportunities.  They've taught us about ourselves, forced us to grow in ways we weren't sure we could, and brought us even closer together.  The first year in France has been pretty amazing and we're just as excited about Year Two.  We have plans to keep traveling and to explore more of the region surrounding Montpellier.  There are trails to hike, museums to visit, and food to eat.  Our time here is not over and we're very grateful to have another year in France.

we can't leave yet, when there is still so much wine to drink!

So when we leave France, where will we go?  What's next?  The fact that we have no idea is exciting, thrilling, stressful, and terrifying.  But that's half the fun, right?  We don't know exactly when we're leaving and we don't know where we'll be going, but we do know one thing.  And that one thing has been our singular focus lately, driving our decisions and bringing us so much joyful anticipation that we could just burst with the magnitude of it all. We won't be coming back alone.

15 weeks along and feeling good!

Yep.  Year Two in France is going to be pretty awesome.

56 Responses to “One Year in France”

  1. Shannon says:

    OHHH!! I am crying at my desk!! Beautiful post! We are so excited for you and Michael!! Can’t wait to see you and meet the little nugget soon. xoxo


    1. i can’t believe it’s been a year already

    so, awesome.

  3. Tamar says:

    you look so cute!!!

  4. nate says:

    Awwwwww…………. :-) We miss you guys.

  5. JJ Clement says:

    We’re so excited for you! Dylan can already say, “Baby in Natalie’s belly!”

  6. Tori says:

    Yay!!! I can’t wait to be an auntie & for Brighton to meet his cousin!!! It’s going to be wild if they share a birthday!! I’m gonna spoil that child rotten!! :)

  7. Diana says:

    I knew it! Congratulations. You look gorgeous! Squeeze every last penny out of your awesome French health insurance!

  8. Kathleen says:

    FELICITATIONS!!!!!!!! Vous ressemblez à une femme très heureuse:-)

  9. OB says:

    Now that is great news to start a week! Congratulations! (I also enjoyed the read.)

  10. Greer says:

    As Shannon and Tori both said “I am sitting at my desk crying.” congrats Natalie, you are absolutely glowing! I cannot wait to meet the little one!xoxo

  11. Kerry Hampton says:

    A beautifully written story Natalie! Congratulations! I am SO excited for you guys! xoxo

    • Natalie says:

      thank you Kerry!! hope you are feeling great! can’t wait to meet that new little boy of yours, coming so soon! xo

  12. Diane Dobson says:

    Aww!! I was reading getting chills and then even MORE at the end! CONGRATS to you and Michael – very exciting! you look great. :)

  13. Kaitlin O'Leary says:

    AHHHHHH! You are seriously the cutest prego I have ever seen. We were all just crowded around my desk reading the news. Congrats from the News Americans! We are so so happy for you guys!

  14. Julia says:

    AMAZING!!! beautifully written. and you brought tears to my eyes. you look radiant. bonjour, bebe! XX

  15. Roger Stewart says:

    While I”m not crying, I and very happy and excited for you guys. Here’s hoping that the next phase of life will be as adventure filled as this one….

  16. Erin Wiedman says:

    Congratulations Natalie and Michael! Natalie, you look great! So excited for you both!

  17. JaNielle says:

    You look so beautiful! I am so happy for you guys!

  18. alananderinsayhitoyou4 says:

    Splendid all around, natcat. I wish we weren’t such poor bastards because I would love to come be slow with you guys. that’s my speed these days. Happy gestating!

  19. Susan Davis says:

    Dearest Natalie, I am so thrilled to hear your awesome news that you and Michael are adding a baby to your family! You look so cute with your baby bump! You’ll be awesome parents! How exciting!

  20. Massive congrats to you both.

  21. Jill says:

    Love the bump pic, can’t wait to see more!

  22. Jordan says:

    Congratulations, Natalie!!! So excited for you two!!

  23. Dominic Hansa says:

    WHAT???!!! Had to check out your site as I heard the great news from some of my fellow NAMers today…a BIG congratulations to both you and Michael! You’re going to both be awesome parents!!

  24. Jessica says:

    Wow! Such great news:) I am so happy for you and Michael. I loved reading this post…everything you said about SF and moving on is so true. You both have had one heck of a journey and it is about to get even better;)

    PS: you look sooo cute;)

  25. Jennifer Isabelle says:

    Amazing post ! I’m sure that Year Two will be awesome ;-)

  26. Ginny Byrnes says:

    Such great news Natalie! So happy for you and Michael!

  27. Leslie says:

    U guys will both be missed this weekend it Batty and meesys wedding. We wish we could do last fall all over again.. Congrats on the little frenchy to come and Matt and I love you both very much!!! We will all toast to you this weekend in Mexico! Love u guys.

  28. Mom says:

    Oh Natalie! What a beautiful post.
    I am so proud of the amazing woman you are. And thrilled for the wonderful life and love you share with Michael! I, too, was reading with tears in my eyes! I can’t wait for you to experience the role of motherhood. Your heart will be taken over with a special love that embraces your whole being. That is what I always feel for you and your sister. Can’t wait for that grand baby:)))))). Love you sweetheart!

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