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LJ Idol Season 8: Week 2
Three Little Words

Follow your dreams.

Ever since I was 13, I've dreamt of living in France. At that time, the rather childish romanticised version of the dream saw me married to a rich Frenchman and living either in Paris or in La Rochelle, in Charente-Maritime. Or preferably both, if the Frenchman really were that rich. I was streets ahead — years ahead — of the rest of my class in French, as I'd been learning it from my mother, who was a translator, since I was 6 years old. I was bored in class, and spending my lunchtimes working my way through the French novel section of the school library (although as a rather sheltered naïve child, I wasn't really sure what Maupassant was going on about half the time, what with all these serving wenches getting pregnant, nudge nudge, wink wink).

By 19 , I was at university, studying engineering. I'd kept up with my French, but not to the extent of doing a full A-level in it (instead, I'd done an AS, with a "specialist subject" for my oral exam of Jacques Delors, the then-president of the European Union — strange child that I was!) Luckily, I managed to wangle a stage at the Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique, just south of Paris, so I got to spend that first summer of my undergraduate years to some extent living my dream. The following two summers I worked at one of the most élite engineering universities, the École des Mines, and my masters project was done in collaboration with them. I was all set to move over to Paris to do a PhD there.

And then I fell in love. Not just with a man, but with a research concept that only the University of Cambridge would take seriously at that time. So, regretfully, I turned down the two PhD places I'd been offered in Paris, and resigned myself to living in Cambridge for the foreseeable future, and possibly forever.

The love affair with the research lasted far longer than the man, and the man after that. But in 2003, reeling from both redundancy and the prospect of a divorce within the space of a month, my mind had started to turn back to France. Only now it was complicated by Italy as well, or, to be precise, Liguria. (You may have read of the destruction last week of some of the Cinque Terre villages; my Three Little Words were almost Three Little Letters: RIP Monterosso, and possibly Vernazza too).

Confused, I did nothing much about it until some time early in 2006, when my all-knowing housemate, an information librarian, suggested I might like to take a look at Corsica. I booked a holiday with my father to take us round bits of France he'd loved, bits of Italy I'd loved, and to venture for the first time onto Corsican soil. It was a coup de foudre; I was bowled over. But, never one to do anything in a hurry, I did nothing about moving here beyond wistful looks at estate agents' websites until 2009. And, even then, I still had to be patient, as the development I wanted to move into was at that point at the stage of a bulldozer in an unploughed field.

I've been here since July, and it certainly hasn't been plain sailing. I've been without an oven for all that time, and correspondingly ill for most of that time as well. My father, whom I had initially hoped would get to spend the end of his days in the sun here, was too ill for me to cope with and had to return to England after three weeks. I return to England in 10 days time, partly to sort out his finances in an increasingly doomful market, and partly because I am lurching from crisis to crisis of illness and need to be amongst friends, and partly because I need to see a doctor who won't charge the earth and revitalise myself if I'm ever going to make a go of things here. In the meantime, I am hoping that the last rough edges of the flat will be smoothed out.


Follow your dreams. You may find them hard to achieve, and you may find (as I yet may) that they aren't really the dreams you wanted to follow after all, or that some completely immovable object stands in the way of your achieving them. But there's one thing worse that finding that out: and that's the eternal regret of those Two Little Words: What If?

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High five for "Follow Your Dreams"!!

Yay! I had a smaller dream of living in California and I made it happen. It really is amazing what you are capable of when you set your mind to it!

I hope it's turned out to be everything you hoped for!


I like this word, though I certainly don't like how the economy is going.

It's probably not a real word, but I think it's appropriate. The economy just depresses me, mainly because I feel I don't understand it enough, so don't know how to go about protecting myself and my father and my daughter.

Glad you got to follow your own dream!

I'm getting there, slowly. Just wish my mother had lived to enjoy it, and that my father weren't in the cloud of unawareness that is vascular dementia.

Oh yes! I'd much rather try something and find it's not for me after all, than never try it and always wonder.

Yes, I did too much "failing to follow dreams" when I was younger that I'm not going to allow it to happen again. If it turns out that this doesn't work out for me, at least I have a place to let out (or, more likely, knowing me, let friends visit).

hear hear to following your dream!

Really liked the way you ended this. :)

Thanks! The beginning and ending were always known quantities; it was the journey between them that was hard.

Good for you for following your dreams - and even though it's evolution and not revolution, still pretty awesome!

Oh, I have some dreams that could well cause a revolution, but actually having a place to live that I can call my own and invite people over to is a huge improvement over the situation of the last 8 years. The rest can wait :-)

Oh yes, yes, always do it, never regret, don't sit in that rocking chair saying 'if only...'

Two points am sad you had such bad luck, (our dreams have been hounded by it, but still we are happy we did it)
Get the health sorted first. Corsica is wonderful.
My travel dreams started with a school trip to Paris at 13!! I love art, and would have given anything to live where you were.

I am English but have drifted around the world with my husband living in New Zealand, back to England, and now Australia. We love challenges, and although broke we love where we are, coming here when we were both around 50, --a little late. Grab those chances when they come, lovely to read your work.

Yes, getting the health sorted is a big priority. This includes (*looks at self sternly*) not moving round heavy items of furniture by myself, because that way torn stomach muscles don't get a chance to repair.

The time in Paris was particularly idyllic the 3rd time I was there (1st time very low pay, and living out in Orsay, meant not much time in the capital; the 2nd time there were cockroaches all over my room; but the 3rd time I shared a flat I'd found online with another English girl out there for the summer, and the location was to die for: local métro Cardinal Lemoine).

Glad you're happy in Australia: one of my dearest friends lives in NSW these days.

In cases like this, I'm reminded by the John Lennon quote, "Life is what happens while you're making other plans." I enjoyed this look at your life so far.

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