Who says "you can't go back?"
We are about to find out if the old adage is true or not, as recently, I changed jobs - and companies - to take an exciting new position. The plus side: more responsibilities, more opportunities, more visibility. More money.
But there is a price to everything, and in this case, that price means giving up the final few months I had living in Paris.
It was a very tough choice.
Needless to say, Paris is a fabulous place to live; we've enjoyed just about everything from the food, the history, the culture, and the architecture to the perks of living in the centre of Europe, a location that has allowed us to visit a dozen countries in Europe and Africa.
However, life forces choices, and being a grown-up means, sometimes, making decisions that you'd rather avoid. As the sub-text of this blog paraphrases John Lennon, life is what happens when you're making plans.
Thus, I've had to say "adieu" to ma vie en rose dans la ville de lumière after a couple of years as an adopted Parisian. (My wife and son get a temporary stay, as they will be coming along at the end of his school year this summer).
The fall will be difficult, but it will not be fatal. We're coming back to the US, and in a twist of fate, it is a real homecoming of sorts. We are moving back to the San Francisco Bay Area, where our son was born and where both my wife and I lived nearly all of our adult lives.
We are no longer going to be, as the title of this blog states, San Jose Refugees.
It is going to be an interesting transition - we've been gone from central California for nearly a decade now. Just about everything has changed. I'm no longer young, but decidedly middle-aged, a fact my son reminds me of with frequency and glee. For a chunk of the previous time, I was single, and for virtually all of it, childless. I have responsibilities that I hadn't, interests that I didn't, and aches in places I was unawares of. The BMW convertible is gone. No; a Honda Odyssey is not on the cards. A sensible sedan likely is, however.
I visited my old neighbourhood this weekend - it looks very different of course. Nothing is more constant in the Bay Area than change. There are many new, fancy high-rise apartments in San Jose that were one and two-storey, mid-century eyesores.
Today, a shipment of personal items arrived at my temporary, corporate apartment from Paris after some delays at the customs office. The foreman of the delivery crew asked me if in the past, I had lived on 11th St in San Jose, which of course I had.
Turns out, the guy lived next door to me 20 years ago.
He was 11 at the time. Now grown, he has three children of his own.
The world is, indeed, small, even if it's not as "flat" as Tom Friedman would have you believe.
Can you go back? We are about to find out.