Sunday, June 01, 2008

New Place, New Home, New Beginnings

Imagine altering your whole life to be in a place you fell in love with. A holiday that keeps you longing to go back, an opportune house that comes up for sale - and lo and behold, you have moved lock stock and barrel to start a new life as a wine maker or a teacher. The concept is thoroughly fascinating. Its like inventing a new life for yourself.

I first fell in love with the idea when I saw the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun". It is one of those movies that make you wish "if I could do something like that". In this movie, recent divorcee (portrayed by Diane Lane) is pushed into a trip to Tuscany by her friend. During the trip, Diane is led astray by a house she sees, and on a whim buys it. The rest of the movie is about her discovering Tuscany, and making a new house and life for herself. Beautiful. Though the movie has a run-on-the-mill end, I loved it. The movie is based on a book "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Frances Mayes, which is about a couple who move to Tuscany. I haven't managed to grab a copy of it yet, but its on my travel reading list!

Peter Mayle's 'A year in Provence' is about his first twelve months in Provence after he and his wife and two dogs make the move to the little town, having fallen in love with it during their vacations there. He says "We had been there (Provence) before, always desperate for our ration of two or three weeks of true heat and sharp light. Always when we left, with peeling noses and regret we promised ourselves that one day, we would live here. And now, somehow to our surprise we had done it. We had bought a house, taken French lessons, and aid our goodbyes, shipped over our two dogs and become foreigners." Particularly enjoyable is his style of writing. Especially, where he describes the idiosyncrasies of the French, he brings out the humour with such indulgence; in a way one would tease an old friend. Though, on second thought he was not as considerate about the English.

In this NYTIMES article,"Guatemala as muse and a base for a writer" authoress Joyce Maynard talks about how she buys a second home in Guatamela. She spends four months in a year in this place writing, conducting her workshops and of course enjoying the country. The article says she had no intention of owning a home in Guatemala when she set out to travel there seven years ago with her daughter, Audrey, who was studying Spanish in a Guatemalan school. On her stone patio one recent morning, Ms. Maynard, recalled the conversation that changed the course of her life. “I said, ‘I so envy you, Aud, for getting to be here and study your Spanish,’ and she said, ‘What’s stopping you, Mama?’ ” Dramatic pause. “And I realized, ‘Nothing!’ ” She had been divorced for over a decade. The youngest of her three children, Will, had just finished high school. Her older son, Charlie, was in college. Her work as a writer required only a laptop. She was supposed to be traveling on to Hawaii, but cashed in her ticket and rented a house for eight months. The longer she stayed, the more certain she became that she had stumbled on the next chapter of her life story.

Though ofcourse, all the romaticism in starting a new life is somewhat curbed by the practicalities of the cost involved. This seems to restrict such fantasies to the more privilged. But then there are those bohemnian travellers out there who take a long break - six months, a year or 2, move to a new country, hire an apartment, settle to do anything - waiting on tables, teaching, being shop attendants - just to experience a life in a new place, a new country. This is as romantic as moving entirely to new place - and possibly a more practicable option for some of us. Maybe someday ... We all dream on...