Sunday, April 25, 2010

Home Sweet Home!

Gilles and I are pretty close to modern day nomads. Since leaving home for University in 1995, between the two of us we have lived in Sackville, Medicine Hat, Halifax, Edmonton, Denver, Red Deer, Calgary, Pau, and the roaming home of the Bluenose. We have a file on our computer listing addresses we need to change in lieu of a move, and we have paid Canada Post plenty of money to temporarily redirect our mail. But perhaps we are slowing down a bit? We have now lived in Pau longer than we have lived anywhere (at one given time) since we flew our parents' coops. Ironic, since living an expat life with Total guarantees each posting is temporary. But here we are, almost exactly two years and seven months since leaving Calgary, still in our home away from home in Pau.

We do love our life here. It is very relaxing and simple, far from the super-charged life we led in Calgary. We are so laid back that chores seem to go by the wayside. Gilles has been meaning to sand and stain our teak patio furniture for weeks, and he has now decided that he needs to take our vehicles in for an interior/exterior cleaning, knowing he won't get to them himself. Lazy Saturdays involve a walk to the local market followed by a trip downtown for strolling and cafe time...that is pretty much it. We often marvel at how we accomplished a big home reno while working full time jobs in Calgary. Could we ever revert back to that lifestyle?

But despite our comfortable life here, it will never truly feel like 'home'. We will always be outsiders living in this, or any other country. We speak the language, but with noticeable accents. We have friends here, French and other, but we are culturally very different. The French bureaucracy will never seem acceptable, and carrying a cheque book around (and using it frequently!) will never feel normal. Part of this failure to assimilate is our fault. We watch Canadian television. I watch the news from Calgary and read the online Calgary Herald daily. Gilles' most frequented website is CBC news. We watch hockey, the Rick Mercer report, and still donate and listen to our favourite radio station-CKUA. But we are ok with this. I don't think we would have been happy expats in an era before internet, long-distance phone plans, and Skype. We are proud Canadians, and despite loving living abroad, we have to keep one foot entrenched in Canadian soil. And hopefully this way, Xavier will learn what it means to be Canadian, no matter where in the world he is living.

I have included some photos from around our home here in Pau. The red paper crowns were in the Christmas crackers my sister brought from the UK.

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