I spend the summer living with my in-laws.
When I leave the story at that, I see the depth of human compassion, I mean, people can almost make Mother Teresa seem like a slacker.
The initial shock of hearing my statement often gets people in touch with their religion. After they exclaim, “OH MY GOD!” they tenderly shower me with empathetic and morale boosting comments ranging from “poor girl” to “I would die if I had to do that: you are amazing”. And sometimes, I really need that…
But, you may as well know the truth. My in-laws live in France.
I’m sure you’ll agree, that it puts a whole other spin on “I spend the summer living with my in-laws” when you add “in France” to the end. –Mind you, the statement still elicits a gasp of “OH MY GOD!” but the tone somehow isn’t quite the same and the comments that follow are more in the vein of “lucky girl!” and “I would die to do that.”
I have to face it; I wouldn’t feel sorry for someone spending almost every summer for the past two decades in France. Would you? It sounds more like a fantasy than a reality. But it is reality. My reality.
Really, who would complain about that, right? Complaining about spending summers living in France with your husband’s relatives is more obnoxious than bragging! (Unfortunately, I only came into this wisdom by having the audacity to make the mistake. –No one is perfect, right?)
This lesson has taught me that life is all in the way you look at things: you know that old proverb about the glass being half-full or half-empty?
I live with an amazing French guy who is not only a well-loved and published French professor but who also knows how to fold laundry and load a dishwasher like he was born doing it. I spend every summer in France. Let’s face it, a crystal stem glass half full of shimmering honey-colored wine fell out of the sky into my stumpy little fingers. And instead of enjoying it, taking the time to appreciate the fragrances and savor the feel of the sweet liquid slipping over my tongue, I was thinking “the bastards didn’t fill it up to the brim.”
Fortunately, the better I get to know French culture, the more unappealing a full glass looks… especially when life presents you with an opportunity to drink a wine like, oh let’s just say, a 1945 Montbazilllac. (That isn’t a random example, but I’ll come to that much later). In France, a glass is considered “full” when less than half its capacity is occupied with wine. And, I’ve come around to see things that way both literally and figuratively. –Sure, it may have taken a couple of major earthquakes and a nuclear incident to bring me around, but I now adopt the “glass half-full” view of life.
I’m blogging to explain how a simple Swedish-American girl from Ohio (who not only didn’t know the difference between Bordeaux and Beaujolais but was also more preoccupied with sake than wine) wound up falling in love and then adopting French citizenship, the French-lifestyle, the “glass is half full” perspective on life only to wind up starting her own boutique French tour company. Because, let’s be honest, life doesn’t always turn out the way we plan… sometimes it is better. When we look at things from the right perspective, that is.