For a week after he arrived in North Carolina, Steph joked that we would move into my father's house and I would work while he kept house, the inverse of our life in France. He joked about it so much that, as we slipped into a booth at our favorite lunchtime restaurant, I asked him how much was joking and how much was actual interest in moving to the States. So we began to mull over the idea of uprooting our lives.
At first I was skeptical. What about his parents, his brothers and sisters? What about his specialization course, which he finally was accepted into only this year, his career, the main reason we chose to live in France in the first place? And what about the grand irony that I would be moving home only after both my parents have passed away?
For the next two days, we researched immigrant visas and green cards, mulled over monthly expenses of owning a house this grand, spoke to family members who are retired teachers, even spoke with the personnel director of the county's school system. Slowly, my vision shifted. I could see a future for us, with both of us gainfully employed, in a house twice as large as we could ever own in France, on a piece of land large enough to hold two or three homes in France. Our children would attend schools just around the corner and would intimately know my family. I could achieve my former goal of being a high school drama teacher (which was practically guaranteed by the personnel director) while Steph could continue working in special education.
My vision was so clouded by this dream that I walked right into the brick wall of reality.
The truth is that the risks were just too great. If Steph ever leaves his position as a teacher here, he can never reclaim it. Sabbaticals are possible but it would be June before he got any approval for it, meaning he'd have to apply for a job in the States before he knew he could even take it. Even then we'd have only a year to make it work there before we'd have nothing at all. Although we're glad we did do the research as it may come in handy one day, we realized that now is not the right time.
I had a difficult time letting all this go, when everything in this dream was centered around this house. My father's house: the house he knew he'd buy the moment he walked in the door and declared, from a chair in the sun room, "I'm home." The house he longed for for ten years of apartment living with no land, cramped living quarters and half his possessions in storage. My father's house.
And with that, I realized that letting this dream go, letting this house go, meant letting go of my father. For moments that stretched into hours and then years, the idea was unbearable.
Truth be told, I'm still coming to terms with all this, which I suppose is normal, since he's only been gone for a month. I do have moments of clarity and peace, however, when I realize that that house wasn't my dream, and it never was; it was his. Slowly, my vision is refocusing on me and my dreams. With a little bit of time, I think my vision will be clear again.