2020 - Good Riddance to you.

Lou Reed was right, just 30 years early

This month I’ve decided to (largely) abandon podcasts and politics and instead turn to music. One of the albums that made it on to my phone was Lou Reed’s 1989 “New York” album. Which stopped me dead and left me saying “Wow. This album really does capture 2020.” (Read it here)

As the horrors of 2020 start to resolve themselves we’re again starting, slowly, to look ahead, and especially to once again start thinking about France.

Earlier this week I was pondering life while walking dogs, and had a moment of great clarity. For the first time in my life I actually have dreams, things that I hope to attain before I die. One of those dreams is to write, and has been developing slowly over the past few years, although much slowed in 2020 as publishing like everything else got clobbered by COVID.

The second dream, I realised, is that I truly do want to move to France. I want to spend the rest of my years there. I want to speak French, and read French, and live the life of a citizen of France.

In thinking about this I’ve realised that never before did I have a fully defined dream. What I would have described as a “dream” was always a reflection of what the other people in my life wanted. I either had no particular direction, or at least wasn’t able to express it and embrace it.

That has changed.

This year I’ve really understood that writing brings be great satisfaction and happiness, and sometimes also brings me money. Given that I’ve always been writing stuff since at least high-school it seems silly that only now am I understanding how central that is to my happiness. I can actually also see a path forward to making that a reasonably good income. (Big shout out to the Writer’s Co-op podcast for teaching me the business side of writing.)

Now it’s time for Susan and me to plan our move from Vancouver to France.

Obviously COVID is still a factor. From what I read in the Canadians in France Facebook group that door is more or less closed for the moment. Still, it will likely take a few months to do home renovations prior to selling, so that’s not too big of a barrier.

Somewhere in the first half of 2021 I’m hoping that we’ll find a way to actually visit France and spend some time on the ground looking at places that seem interesting. Although up til now we’ve always defaulted to Normandy, the arrival of a cold, wet, dark Vancouver winter is making Provence look much more attractive. Plus it seems that all of the homes that have been used as AirBnB investments are suddenly on the market at reduced prices.

Although I’ll admit that I don’t yet speak French with any fluency, I can usually understand it when I hear it and read it, and much to my surprise I really enjoy writing in the language - and yes, I write differently in French than English.

When I look back on my childhood in small town Kelowna BC this is all pretty astonishing. Moving to France is not something that kids from Kelowna ever did.

I guess I need to admit that rejecting my past and my upbringing is also a dream of mine.

Coming full circle I have been reminded that in 2011 France actually declared that Lou Reed a Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Take a minute and read the speech by Antonin Baudry, then Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy.