May 16, 2008

May, month of holidays

Posted in Daily life tagged , , , , at 11:35 am by Lauren

At my school in DC, the teachers would murmur among themselves in May and June, “Don’t make your decision about coming back at the end of the school year.” Contract renewal is an emotionally charged process anyway (reviewing all the good and bad of the past year), without doing it during a completely abnormal atmosphere. Classes on taking a field trip every week, children miss school at the drop of a hat, and teachers’ nerves wear thin in the heat. Ideally, when your contract comes in May, you already know if you’re going to sign it or not.

If you had asked Allen in April whether he’d be willing to move back to Paris next year, I doubt you would have received a positive response. Working in a foreign language is taxing, the long-term threat of French taxes is financially terrifying, and then there’s the whole question of having friends. But April is gone, and so are all the months before it, and May has arrived. Now whole phrases are coming out of his mouth with words like, “If we move back to Paris…”

What has changed? May is here! I’m partial to May anyway, but May in Paris is particularly nice. In fact, I think this is what the crooners mean when they refer to springtime in Paris. They couldn’t be fantasizing about April. My records aren’t detailed, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we had at least five minutes of rain every day between January and the end of April. But on May 1, France’s equivalent of Labor Day, Allen enjoyed his sunny day off work. And on May 2, we went to Grenoble and basked in the sunshine there. When we returned, the sun was firmly planted in the sky. In fact, we hadn’t seen a stitch of rain in all of May until yesterday’s downpour (relieving the heat a little). Today it’s back to gorgeous.

May is also the month of holidays. In fact, there are three major holidays (read: days off from work) within the first two weeks: May 1, May 8, and May 12. Looking at a calendar, you’ll find that two of those fall on Thursdays and the last on a Monday. Unlike Americans, who move holidays arbitrarily to a Monday or a Friday, French take whatever day it is off of work. You may scoff, “No long weekends, then.” But the French do us one better. They “fait le pont.” That is, they create a bridge between the day off and the weekend by taking another day off! So Allen had the following days off already this month: May 1 and May 2 (four day weekend), May 8 and May 9 and May 12 (five day weekend). No wonder he’s entertaining the idea of moving back to France soon!

I don’t know what the end result will be – it may turn out you just shouldn’t make a decision about coming back to France during the lovely month of May. I recently met an American couple who shared that they too left France because of an exhausting job situation. But when they returned to the States, they realized that living in France was worth the job for them. So they suggested that we would probably know once we got back to the States whether we’d want to move back to France. And since we don’t have a whole lot of choice in our location these days, we plan on just enjoying France in May in the meantime.


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