There is No Place Like Home, if You can find it
How I zeroed in on my New Home in France
When I told my friend Bea that I had moved from Perpignan to Céret after only a year there, she remarked with surprise, “Oh really, do you think you’ll stay there long?”
I could sense confusion and a bit of judgment in her tone. After all I’d just picked up and moved from Richmond, Virginia in the United States to Perpignan in the South of France only a year earlier, and now I was on the move again.
Certainly, it was another change, but I had gained clarity about where in France I would be even happier. And I had done what was right for me. No need to explain or excuse it away to anyone.
But why, if I’d fallen in love with Perpignan (which I had) was my stay there so short. Perpignan introduced me to the Pyrenees Oriental region in France and provided my first home here, so it will always be dear to me. But I hadn’t managed to find a section of the city I could see myself settling in. So I decided to move based on additional information I’d absorbed over the previous ten months in that city, and on a feeling I’d gotten. Perpignan will always hold a place in my heart, but now I’m happy to call Céret home.
Some people move around frequently because it’s in their nature to move about in a nomadic fashion. Others move a lot because they are trying to find themselves or escape from an internal discontent they think won’t follow them to their new location. And still, others move to a new place because they haven’t found that location that feels just right for them. The latter was my situation. The city of Perpignan was more right for me than from where I’d come, but not quite right.
So I expanded my search to find that place I could see myself settling down in, longer term. I could stay in the region and follow the path that led to the Mediterranean Sea or the one that took me toward the gorgeous Pyrenees mountains.
I love the calming nature of the sea — the beauty of the crystal blue water nestled between the azure and the silvery beach. But there is a transitory nature there. The continual washing away of things by each day’s tides and the shuttering of storefronts after the summer sun’s allure and the tourists seeking it have returned home. That did not speak to me.
On the other hand, there were the mountains, majestic and magnetic, that filled me with a sense of strength and stability. So I decided on the hills, knowing the sea was still only a 30-minute drive away. In short order, I found the charming village of Céret, which had been the frequent haunt to artists like Picasso, Matisse, and Braque. Now I’m at the end of my second year here and have recently set a goal to find a place to buy and make my own. I know I’ve chosen well.
Are you the kind of person who finds a place and stays put for long periods, only moving when you need a new challenge or a significant change in your life? Or are you more nomadic, continually looking for and moving somewhere new to feed your soul? Neither type is better or worse, but when you know and embrace your preference, you find yourself in the driver’s seat, and can make your moves without guilt or the need for justification.