17 May 2008
Hip Hip Hurra!!
For us, being a tri-cultural family (Norwegian, American & French), we get the added bonus of celebrating three independence holidays every year--though, to be honest as our collection of American friends has waned in Paris, and the bbq parties have stopped, the 4th of July easily goes by unnoticed, but never forgotten--living abroad we have learned to truly appreciate and not take for granted the freedoms that come with that blue passport. For those of you that don't have every country's day memorized, here is your global education for the day. France's is the 14th of July (we had a great Bastille Day this year), America's is the 4th of July (I have to assume there are international citizens reading this now based on my map!) & Norway's is the 17th of May, so this year it was especially memorable as it was the day....that yes....we became official French home owners!! woo hoo! Independence from our landlord from hell in Paris (another story to follow one day when I have caught up on the plethora of belated posts rolling around in my head!), independence from noise and independence for the M-J family to create their own home.
It hasn't been a journey without bumps, some the big kind that you have to slow waaaay down for, of this I can assure you. After we arrived home from St. Lucia we basically hit the ground running and didn't stop until, well, now. In between we had a visit from my Aunt G & Uncle M from Norway, who also insisted a visit to the house-to-be (all this strong arming!) and I just know another visit is in the future just so my Onkel M can play with one of his dirt movers!! Jeg vet deg Onkel M!! ;-) Along the way, administrative snafus ensued--in fact, days before we signed the l'Acte de Vente (Act of Selling-official purchase document where you become the legal owner--40+pages) we still didn't know if it was going to end well! Nothing like high stress to bring us to the culmination of home ownership!
The morning of, we arose in Paris at some ungodly hour--thank god for American coffee travel mugs!--drove the two hours and arrived, as the morning dew was departing, at la maison. We had a 9:30 a.m. appointment with the notaire for all the reading, check writing and signing, so had to do the house walk-thru, meet Jean-Pierre the farmer (not his real name--see earlier entry for land mooch description) who was only an evil entity in my mind, but now had a face to go with...ha ha...and go through any last minute instructions etc on the various ancient minutiae located on the property.
At the appointed hour we bundled into our respective cars--with the owners getting a bit feclempt as 20 years of memories were ending, but don't feel too sorry for them, they're off to their new house built on a Greek island to live out retirement. At least we know our money is in a sunny destination--opa!--and drove off to the notaire. The next several hours were spent going through the entire document--and yes, again my name had to be corrected & added!!...seriously, is this so hard? Oui, for the French. And the paternal dominance in legal documents here is something that I have learned at times to ignore, but in this case stood firm much to the chagrin of our notaire. The tediousness of the moment was broken when A) we finally got to see how much the owners paid for the property 20 years ago...and didn't cry! (b/c we still got a good deal) and B) found it terribly cool to see the documented owners through it's 300 year history (a plus to living in an old land!) and know that we too were now becoming a small part of future history!!
The meeting ended with a round of hand shaking and Mercis. The now previous owners literally ran off with certified bank check in hand to the bank. We stood in the parking lot, the sun shining, keys in a plastic grocery bag contemplating the actual conclusion to months of dreaming, visits, agonizing administrative protocol and sheer speculation. The house....was....OURS!! Unfortunately, a strict rule in France, and especially here in la France profonde, is that when lunch is over, it is o-v-e-r. You may as well go and gnaw on some tree bark and drink from the canal as you are getting nothing to eat. So at this late hour in the afternoon, our stomachs rumbling non-stop, we celebrated our entry into true French residence....yep....dining at the only open facility for kilometers....the one and only chic dining establishment known fondly on this side of the pond as.....Chez McDo!! (McDonalds for those of you stateside) There is a certain amusing irony in that...which was not lost on us as we sat out in the sun slurping down shakes.
Following our gourmet meal we tore back to the house and proceeded to tour La Maison M-J as it shall now be known. For the rest of the world our little corner of paradise is locally known as La Maison Neuve (The New (300yr old) House). Before you all rush off to Google that, let me remark, that is a name given to a hundred other properties here, kind of like Smith in the U.S. Giving directions is going to be fun, so I am currently coming up with a creative garden decor on the main road for our sign to make it stand out!
So, the photo you see on top is the happy M-J family on the day, all four of us (one of whom was trembling with sheer doggy glee the entire time), as we managed to capture with the camera on a timer, precariously angled on a rock, our rock, on our grass, on our lane as we stood before our house feeling our happiness escalate every minute that passed.