I returned home to a flurry of activity. A million pieces needed to be put in place. Mastery of all things bureaucratic, an often overlooked talent of mine, quickly became my most prized asset. You could have filled a swimming pool with all the red tape in this process.
Moving to France is the stuff of dreams. The reality of making it happen is something else entirely. This was only feasible if I could run my company, 3D Studios, remotely. That was key. If 3D wasn’t viable with me out of the country, France was out. After spending an obscene number of hours checking everything from compatibility for my computer equipment to bringing my NY phone numbers with me, I ascertained that with a little extra planning I could pull it off.
I spent as much time researching as I did preparing. The ‘to-do’ list was impossibly long; visa application, apartment hunting, packing the house, finding a renter, preparing the cats…bringing Bandit….
Bandit. I still had not figured out what to do about him. After a bevy of phone calls, I managed to gather some basic information about shipping a horse to France. It wasn’t cheap. That’s actually a gross understatement. The truth is, I could finance my stay in France for an entire year with the money it would cost to get him there. Maybe this wasn’t the right choice. He was 25 going on 26 not a spring chicken by any means. The trip would not be easy. I had one friend tell me I was crazy to consider putting him through it. While not at all helpful, it did contain a small kernel of truth.
As luck would have it, a fellow equestrian called me with some great news. She had a friend who could take Bandit. She owned a nice farm and he would have plenty of space and other horses to keep him company. Fantastic, right? Wrong. Talking to Ashley about the very real possibility of giving Bandit to someone else brought a state of clarity I was completely unprepared for. I started to cry. I had been straddling the hell out of this fence. Apparently, that was no longer the case. I keep my animals for life. Bandit was no exception but I now had the unenviable task of figuring out how to make this happen. He was going and that’s all there was to it.
Bandit wasn’t the only decision I was hedging on. I still hadn’t chosen a city. I was fluctuating between Chartres and Lyon and was making no real headway in narrowing it down. The problem was I really liked both. Ultimately, the decision rested on logistics. Chartres was an hour drive from Paris. Lyon was five. The reality of getting from the airport after traveling for 13 hours with four cats basically made the choice for me. Lyon just wasn’t feasible. I didn’t want to drive another 5 hours after getting off the plane. There was no way I was putting myself or the cats through that. So we were heading to Chartres.
The following months were a series of parties and long goodbyes. Preparing to leave wasn’t just about paperwork and packing. I needed to find time to hang out with friends and say goodbye to my beloved city. It was summer in New York and I had naively planned a ‘bucket list’ of sorts. Although very little of The List got done, there were definitely some highlights.
I have awesome friends – I’ve told you this before but it bears repeating. In my infinite wisdom, I decided that we (meaning my awesome friends and I) should host a costumed Masquerade Ball as a last hurrah. Now, if I had to do it all again, I wouldn’t. Not because it wasn’t awesome, because it was, but because What on God’s green earth could I possibly have been thinking to try to organize an event of that scale while simultaneously preparing for a life altering journey? ‘Sleep is for wimps’ became my nightly mantra as I whittled away the midnight oil.
The Masquerade ball was great. It was the stuff of legends. A fantastic time was had by all and to be honest, it was a perfect way to end my time in the states. There were only a few weeks left before my departure and so far things had gone quite smoothly. I had my visa, the cats were all booked on the plane with me, my house in NY was rented, packing was almost done and the car was on the boat heading over. (Yes I took the car – more on that later.) It was running so smoothly, in fact, that I wondered if I had forgotten something.
I hadn’t yet found an apartment in Chartres – not for lack of trying. But it became apparent after months of searching that it just wasn’t meant to happen until I got to France. I rented an airbnb for me and the cats in Chartres for a couple of weeks with the intention of searching when we arrived. Over the previous few months I had managed to jettison my old real estate agent, Franck, and find one infinitely better. (You knew this was coming – I was looking to trade up the minute I met him. ) Her name was Marion and she was an absolute gem. We had been communicating back and forth for months and I had an appointment set up with her the day I arrived to look at apartments. Yes, it would make for a crazy day but not having a place to live was not something I was overly comfortable with and it was creating a bit of anxiety for me. At least this way, there were plans in the works.
All that was left to do was to get the paperwork for the cats certified, pack up the last bit of stuff in the house and enjoy my last days in New York. It was smooth sailing from now on. And then the gods looked down on me and laughed.