I woke up at first light and wondered where we were. When my foggy morning brain eventually cleared and I saw the dingy orange curtains on the windows, I realized we were in Sancerre, hilltop home of my favorite Appelation d’Origine Controlée (AOC) in the whole wide world. Two hours south of Paris, we were in white wine heaven.
Paris had quickly become our temporary home-away-from-home and we’d gotten used to waking to the sounds of our fellow apartment-dwellers. When the morning light came through the courtyard window, we knew exactly where we were. But now that we’re on the road, I expect there will be many mornings like this when I’ll awaken and have to concentrate really hard to remember where we lay our heads the night before. And then will come the next step: convincing myself that we’re actually here in Europe with another ten-and-a-half months ahead of us.
In the weeks before we left Washington, my normal optimism suddenly turned to doubt. Sometime in August, I convinced myself that something would go horribly wrong and I sat up in the middle of many a night in a cold sweat. Did the bureaucrats add more paperwork to the visa requirements and would I have a message on my voicemail to that effect? Could we actually afford to stop climbing the materialistic American ladder for a while to take a Gap Year off? Did I estimate the budget incorrectly and somehow put a decimal in the wrong place? Would the European Union finally collapse under the weight of the mounting Greek debt burden? Were we actually brave enough to just drop out of the rat race and physically leave the country?