Monday, 22 November 2010

An Epic Goodbye

I am not good at goodbye's.  I studiously avoid them.  I run out the door or drop at the airport with an over-the-shoulder quick "call you soon, e-mail me!"  My feelings run deep for the people that matter to me and to let my welling feelings show as I take leave of someone I love risks some epic emotion so instead I do my best to suppress those feelings until alone.  My friends and family know this about me...the more quiet or removed I get, the more they know something is amiss.

This past weekend, my oldest friend in the world, Sheila, and I met in Paris for a 48-hour meeting of our minds and hearts in an effort to minimize that inevitable goodbye.  We have been so blessed in the last five years to have seen each other as often as we have and for our children to have bonded.  For the previous 18 years, we had lived oceans apart, so these last few years have felt like we were 14 all over again.  With our move to Australia, however, the oceans will separate us once more.

I took a morning TGV from Geneva and Sheila a morning Eurostar from London, and we met at a small hotel in the Latin Quarter on the left bank.  We spent the rest of that day wandering St. Germain and stopping on boulevard Mouffetard for a coupe de Champagne before discovering a charming little resto behind St-Germain-des-Prés, the oldest church in Paris for dinner.

After dinner, Sheila indulged my desire to sit at the nearby Café de Flore which like its' neighbour the Café des Deux Magots, was the favorite haunt of intellectuals and ecrivains like Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Ernest Hemingway immediately after World War II.  Being intoxicated on friendship, laughter, and the kinds of conversations that only people who have know each other for 30 years can have, we barely blinked at the 32euro charge for two coffees and two glasses of warm grog (warmed rum sweetened with sugar and lemon).

The next day, we explored the alleys and charming squares of the Le Marais district pausing for steaming cups of café au lait whenever we felt like it; perched on straw chairs at round tables at typical Parisian cafés watching the impeccable Parisian world wander by.  We later followed some locals into a small Brasserie for a wonderful late lunch of an omelette and a glass of chilled Pouilly-Fume.

After our meal, we strolled through the grounds of the Louvre to the Musee d'Orsay, home of the bulk of impressionist art in Paris.  I had been before but had wanted to revisit many of the Monets after just completing the beautiful novel Claude and Camille. Unfortunately, most were on loan to the Grand Palais for a special Monet exhibit, and I had been unable to secure tickets. 

We ventured out late in the evening for a wander around the circuitous alleys of busy and boisterous St. Germain, stopping for a glass of wine before finally settling on a charming Brasserie for dinner where I indulged in a perfect entrecôte à point, and we shared a bottle of Nouveau Beaujolais whose season is currently being celebrated in Paris.

Sunday dawned grey and wet, so we opened our umbrellas and wandered to the Pantheon, final resting place of great and honoured French, such as Pierre and Marie Curie, Louis Braille, Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, Voltaire, and Rousseau.  We made our way into the Luxembourg gardens, and around it's great palace before again stopping for hot fragrant coffee and croissants to warm our chilled bodies.

All too soon, came the time I had been dreading.  On Friday afternoon, I had tried to cling to the anticipation of two delicious days ahead to swap enough stories, share enough soul, and store enough memories to last until our families meet again.  You know what, it wasn't enough, it never would be, but I'll take what I got and feel blessed for it.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Long Time No Talk but Much to Tell

I really need to get back to blogging more regularly.  I am out of practice, rusty, pre-occupied and other-wise distracted.  Why you ask?  Well, for those of you not part of my Facebook world, Swiss Family Hendricks is moving...and for added Australia.

Ok, first things first.  What in the heck am I going to rename my blog???  I need help and suggestions.  Hendricks Down Under?, Kangaroo Hendricks?, bah too pithy, I need something a little more clever.  So throw your ideas my way.

I must confess when the word first came down, I didn't deal so well.  The two reasons I had been opposed started with my aging beloved dog Murphy and ended with my aging beloved mum in Alberta, a long way from Melbourne.  However, with the benefit of some perspective, and a house-finding, school-finding trip in October to Melbourne, I am reminded that with the beauty of rapid air travel, the world is indeed a shrinking place.  Also, did you know that there are International Pet Relocation Companies? And for the price of a second-hand car, they will do their darndest to get Murphy successfully to Australia and through 30 days of quarantine.

So not to bore you with the minutia of details invested in a move of this magnitude, let me summarize our current state.  We have rented a house in Malvern East, a leafy south-east Melbourne suburb, and a few minutes drive to J's new school, l'Ecole Francaise de Melbourne.  That was a VERY big deal, J sat on the EFM's wait list for a couple of months, but a bagful of Swiss chocolate and many many pleading phone calls, and personal visits later, he's in!  Poor C2, however, faces a brutal and long commute to north Melbourne.  He hasn't commuted more than 15 minutes in his entire life.  Still, in general, this part is all good.

The icky part, however, is the exit from our house in Geneva, with all the fun that is wrapped up in a system that gives all rights to the owner and virtually none to the renter.  Suffice it to say, it will cost us the price of another second-hand car to vacate this property in a state that will satisfy our impossible owners.  Then there is the selling of two cars, outdoor play equipment, excess furniture, electronics.  C2 straddling two stressful jobs and travelling during 2.5 weeks of our remaining 4 weeks here.

The even ickier part, of course, are the good-byes.  Ick Ick double Ick!  I have already bid farewell to dear friends who have moved on with their own lives (Melissa, Jawahara, Elin, Lavi) but still had the comfort of remaining meaningful friends.  Leaving my remarkable writers group, Katie, Sher, Tima, Sharon, Paula, and Moyette (Jawahara relocated to Boston last week); my book group, Kathy, Kathy, Helen, Barbara, Barbara, and Lula; my fantabulous neighbours, Ioli, Marlys, and Amelia; my dog walking posse; and my only remaining fellow expat soulmates, Nat and Cindy will be wrenching.  The ripping out of tender roots hurts.  Extremely difficult will be the renewed physical separation between Sheila and I and our very-attached children; so used are we to the quick journey between Geneva and London.

I am torn between the wanderlust inside of me, and the desire for a moment of permanence.  Still as long as I have my immediate family beside me, my Canadian family supporting me, and my far-flung network of friends and fellow wanderers to talk to,  I hope all will be good in my world.