“This will be either a great adventure or the worst decision of our lives”. Nick and I shared with a mixture of anticipation and uncertainty. It all began five years ago when we left behind the familiar Casablanca streets, embarking on a journey into uncharted territory within the French countryside. Our destination: a weathered, century-old stone house in dire need of renovation.
Relocating to a new country can be stressful, demanding considerable time and effort to adjust. I totally get that. I had experienced many changes in my life—new countries, new jobs, and career risks—but I must admit, no change has quite compared to this move to France.
As soon as we arrived, the initial excitement of breathing life into our renovation project swiftly transformed into an endless chain of frustrating interactions with the French administration. Despite my prior extensive research on processes and regulations, it became clear that I had only scratched the surface. We were faced with piles of paperwork, incessant form-filling, and a never-ending back-and-forth communication system, primarily conducted through traditional post. These unpleasant tasks became an integral part of our daily routine, lasting for two very long years. We found ourselves juggling multiple crucial matters simultaneously: renovating the house, navigating immigration processes, managing taxes, all while adapting to a new environment. Nick accurately described our daily experience as wading through thick syrup.
Moreover, we went through a significant shift in our lifestyle, and I must admit, it took a toll on us. We found ourselves at the opposite end of the spectrum from the vibrant urban life we were used to. It felt as though everything we held dear and cherished had been stripped away.
On a wintry day in 2020, in the midst of this whirlwind of change, Nick and I found ourselves seated on a public bench. “Why is this so tough… What went wrong? ” I questioned; my voice filled with doubt. Nick paused for a moment and said: “This is the choice we made. Life is just a set of problems to overcome. Facing those problems is essential. What we need to do right now is to continue to move forward… together”.
We reminded ourselves of our full commitment to this journey and understood the importance of staying focused on our goals, even if we couldn’t achieve all of them. As a couple, we realized the significance of working together instead of turning against each other or allowing frustration to drive us apart. This concept was new to me, as I had never truly grasped the sense of “being in this together” until this moment. So, we joined forces once again, acknowledging our own worries and providing support to each other as a united team. Despite the occasional frustrations, we faced every hurdle together, utilizing our combined strengths to overcome challenges with determination. Soon enough, we began taking small steps forward, addressing one issue at a time, which gradually brought a sense of ease and stability.
Now that most practical matters were sorted, I couldn’t help but feel a longing for something more. Questions swirled in my mind: How could I find ways to recharge and replenish myself? And, most importantly, how could I fill the void left by the vibrant lifestyle that had become a thing of the past?
Over the next two years, I embarked on a personal quest to find that special “something” that would bring balance and enhance my well-being. Being someone who enjoys being out and about, I went on several road trips, occasionally covering over 500km in a single day. I explored picturesque town centers, visited iconic chateaux, and indulged in cultural trips to Paris. However, it was not until I set foot on the Brittany coast that I truly felt a sense of wonder and peace.
The Brittany coast, especially the Côte d’Armor, is home to breathtaking coastlines and dramatic, ever-changing tides. The landscapes undergo constant transformation, revealing hidden beaches and expansive spaces during low tide, while high tides offer a captivating encounter with emerald green waters. Capturing the perfect sight is a rare and feels special. The ideal combination of clear skies and high tide occurs only for a fleeting few hours, with uncertainty as to when it will happen again. Often, as I sat on the sandy shore, I found myself fully present, trying to mentally preserve those cherished sights, hoping to hold onto them for as long as possible.
Many believe that we are naturally drawn to water due to its calming effect and ability to promote positive thinking. I must admit, my experience of the coast accomplished just that. After each trip, I returned feeling refreshed and with a renewed ability to think more clearly.
You might be wondering, is this adventure the best or the worst decision? Well, I may not have had any life-changing moments or a story with a perfect ending, but I can definitely say that it has been a surprising journey filled with valuable lessons: I have discovered my own inner strength and resilience, formed a deep connection with Nick, and learned the true meaning of building a life together. I believe we are now ready to embark on the next chapter of our lives. But above all, it has been, for me, about finding moments of peace in the most unexpected places, even if only for a few fleeting hours.