John and I are still in New York and will return to the Périgord in early November, this time with our two cats and a commitment to make France our permanent home. John got the new artist’s visa (pour les compétences et talents) from the French consulate in New York. The letter accompanying the visa said it was given to him for the “creation d’œuvres de l’esprit.” How very French! Like our past bureaucratic experiences, we were warned how impossibly difficult and drawn-out the process would be. Surprising, it was simple, fast and the visa is good for six years. It also will facilitate getting a carte de séjour, the residency card and final document we’ll need to live in France. We are living a charmed life – and, I think France wants an artist of John’s stature and experience (his paintings are in the Met, Whitney, and the Hirshhorn). All it took for me was an afternoon visiting some galleries in Paris to realize that abstract art there is not any better than it is in Chelsea. Pretty disheartening. So many Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons wannabes.
On a beautiful August afternoon this summer, John and I were married in a small ceremony at City Hall, in Manhattan’s new marble and gilded marriage bureau. As my friend Mary Ann remarked after seeing a photo, “I am sure some place there is an ordinance forbidding ‘mature’ people from looking that blissful.” We ARE happy and feel very fortunate.
So as we prepare for our future in France (with just a little trepidation, or is it excitement?), the work on our house continues with weekly phone consultations with our contractor. Renovating long-distance has been remarkably easy, largely due to Dale’s skill and his appreciation of our taste, as well as good planning with him last spring.
I am eager to return to France, to move into our wonderful house, to see our friends, shop at the Sunday morning market in Issigeac, drink a glass of Bergerac Sec at the Café de France, and drive home through the lovely valley of the Couze River.