Well, to be exact, as of today it's been 4 years, 7 months and 3 days since I moved to France in September 2009. But that (plus six weeks or so) is going to have to do. I'm not going to make it to that magical 5 year mark where you can apply for French citizenship (I wasn't 100% sold on that anyway), because it's time to say au revoir France...
...and bonjour Belgium! Hello frites, yummy chocolate and endless rain (apparently) and adding a sixth country to the list of places I've lived. As of mid-June some time, I'll be on the move again (sigh), this time for hopefully a bit of a longer run in the same place - Brussels. My last move, a mere eight months ago, was so traumatic that I had zero interest in moving again any time soon (despite hating my apartment and the mega-commute), but a fantastic opportunity came up (hence my January trip to Brussels) which was way too good to say no to.
I had more-or-less settled in to commuting for around 1.5 hours each way, and my work for the first few months of the year was a lot more interesting (I'm back to deathly boredom now), but the new job offers so much more financially, in lifestyle terms and (hopefully) in the kind of work I'll be doing. Ever since I've known I'm moving, it's been more and more of a drag when the alarm goes off at 5.45 every day and when I stumble back in my front door at 8.30 pm. After working 40-hour weeks with 15 hours' commuting time, 38 hours plus about 5 hours' commute a week will be a breeze! As well as being character-forming, having to go through tough times of whatever description also helps you to appreciate any upturn in fortune.
Plus the payrise means I could shop around for somewhere I really wanted to live. Absolute non-negotiables: a balcony/terrace/garden and a bathtub. I've been dreaming for years of having some kind of outdoor space, and having a bath (with book, music and glass of wine) is one of my absolute favourite things to do whenever I'm in a hotel or wherever. I never quite had the budget to find exactly what I wanted before, so this time I didn't want to compromise. Jules and I spent last weekend in Brussels, and I've lined one up that ticks all the boxes, and is in what seems to be the perfect neighbourhood, balancing distance from work and the city, amenities, quietness etc. Happy days!
Talking of Jules (who reads the blog, so this is a bit weird), that's the part that's obviously not so great. I was waiting to hear back about the job before we met, and after a few good dates I kind of rolled my eyes and thought "I bet I'll get the job now, that'd be typical". It's almost a cliché that you meet someone when you're not looking (I wasn't - despite it being online, I had taken my photos down, which is basically man-repellent) or when circumstances are going to make things awkward. Sure enough, I got the news after we'd been dating for a few weeks, just before the trip to Cologne. I had planned on waiting until afterwards to tell him, so as not to spoil the weekend, but in the car conversation turned to my job (level of interest therein) and what my long-term plans were, and by the time we got to the hotel I was wracked with guilt and had to break it to him.
He took it very calmly. He's a calm guy, so that's not a big surprise, but after only going out for a few weeks, it would have been reasonable on his part to decide he wasn't into the prospect of a long-distance thing and that it was easier to pull the plug there and then. Which would have been a tad awkward stuck together in Cologne. But, happily, we decided to see how things went over the next 2 1/2 months or so until I left, and then... Brussels isn't that far from Luxembourg, really. It's still only been two months, but things are going well, so hopefully it'll be okay. I think the fact that we already don't live in the same city will help the transition, although I'll miss being able to catch up in the week for a drink after work.
So, I'm super excited! The stress is starting to kick in a little bit now too. It should be much less chaotic than last time (I can hire professional movers for starters), but with the added complications of being an international move to worry about. Who knows how things work in Belgium? And, naturally, I already have trips to Mallorca and Tours lined up for the end of May/beginning of June to suck money out of my bank account and time out of my schedule, but hey, there are worse problems!
I'm a bit sorry that, mostly due to those long hours, I haven't really got to know Metz at all. The last eight months have flown by at warp speed, I swear. The bi-country work/home balance is difficult to maintain: very hard to make friends in Metz, where I was never home, and I'd be tired at the end of the day in Luxembourg and just have to rush off to the train anyway. I still have a little time (moving formalities and holidays notwithstanding) to tick a couple of things like the Pompidou Metz off the list, and I'll be coming back to Luxembourg to see Jules, so all is not lost.