I have to admit, I'm growing rather attached to the French family I'm living with as a jeune fille au pair. Yeah, they definitely have their squabbles, and they're definitely vocal about them. There are definitely better days than others with the kids, and there are days I definitely just want to hit the eject button. But at the end of it all, I feel really lucky to have a family to come home to and a family to help me out over here with all the insane "this is what life is like in hyper bureacratic France," stuff. This doesn't mean they will ever replace my real family, and this doesn't mean I love my real family (whom I miss a lot) any less, but more that I feel like I have an adopted family over here.
I forgot to mention one pretty damn cool detail: they're undercover house flippers. I was made aware of this my second weekend in France, but didn't think it was actually true! I was in the backyard having Sunday lunch in October with host parentals and their married friends. One proclaimed "Oh, S and JL, they buy a place for cheap, they gut it and fix it up real well, they paint it, and then within a few years, they sell it! Call us if you need a place to stay!"
I should probably remind you all that JL is an architect who has his own firm in a town called Marly-le-Roi, which is about 10 minutes from here, and is the site of their last house flipping project. So, as JL elaborated when I asked him in the kitchen a few weeks ago after they closed the deal on a house a few blocks from here, house flipping is both money maker and major hobby. He had entered the kitchen to grab a glass of water and whispered "Don't tell the kids yet...but we got the house!," with a devilish grin. I could only wonder what S, house-decorating-extraordinare to JL's architecture-designing-mastery, had in mind.
So my French House flippers are at it again, and this time, their project will be flipping a circa 1930's traditional stone French home into a two story, modern, New-York style loft home complete with a detached and completely equipped studio for their fille au pair next year. The studio has to be detached rather than on a third floor because apparently the area they're moving to in town is zoned to be environmentally friendly, and they can't add more than one story to what is already existing. They're starting building in April and will finish it in time to move in before what's called la rentree, culturally known as the start of school, but more broadly thought of as the period of the year in which people give thought to changing something--their hair, their wardrobe, THEIR HOUSE, you know, no BFD.
To make matters more interesting, I've gleamed from ever-so-subtle hints that they'd love to have me back next year, and that possible detached bomb studio could be mine. This all depends on the status of my graduate apps in the spring, but I could very well be leaving lovely first house in SGL, returning to California for around 56 days to swoop up another visa and see folks, and returning to France to new house.
Oh life, where the hell are you taking me? All I know for now is this: my French house flippers are at it again.