The second part of my little christmas tale. Thank you for your kind comments, if you missed the first chapter you can read it here
Her conversation with Françoise was the trigger that she needed. Instead of feeling devastated about losing her job, she was fired up about the wide horizon of opportunities opening up in front of her. She returned to her apartment that afternoon and quickly sorted through some paperwork, pulled out an old map of France, and most importantly drew up a list. . She quickly listed her assets:
1. time, yep, she had plenty of that now
2. energy, she felt ready to take on anything
3. finance, years of earning good money and managing it well meant that Jen was in a comfortable position
With this in front of her, she felt even better, now she just had to decide what to do next. She had the means and the time to get up and go, but she wasn’t ready to become a full time traveller, on a permanent holiday. Besides the world of finance, what else could she actually do? This question was her sticking point. The truth was that Jenny had spent so many hours, and months and years moving on in her career that she had neglected other aspects of their life, and now found herself without a hobby or alternative skill
“Françoise said I’ll work that step out later, that’s what reinvention is all about”, she said out loud, even though she was all alone at her desk.
Talking to Françoise, who was so chic and looked so French, had reminded her how much she had enjoyed Paris on a visit with John many years ago. She had vague memories of a romantic and beautiful city; good food; old stone buildings; fresh bread ….. “OK then, let’s start with Paris!”
Jen knew that an old friend had moved to Paris the year before. She searched through her list of contacts, Kathy, kathy, kathy, ….. Pentague!
Before she went to bed she quickly wrote an email to Kathy “Hi Kathy, how are you? Haven’t been in touch for a while but something unexpected has cropped up here. It’s a long story to explain now, but I’m looking for a change of direction and am thinking of heading out to Paris. Just wondered if you are still in the city and whether we could meet up when I arrive? Best regards ….”
Jen went to bed dreaming of a new life in Paris, the eiffel tower, provence and fields of lavender. The next morning she smiled to find an email from Kathy in her inbox. “Hi Jen, what a lovely surprise. Yes, I’m still in Paris and loving every minute! I have an apartment with a spare room if you would like to stay here when you first arrive. I’ve created my own business making pastries, can you believe it! We’ll have lots to talk about. If you arrive before Christmas there’ll be a big party and I can introduce you to lots of people. Let me know, Kath x
“Before Christmas?!, Jen gasped, “but that means this week! …..Who can get ready in a week? ….. I need to pack ….. I ought to say goodbye, but hey?….. Well why not, if I’m going to make a change I may as well get on with it!”
With her mind made up she became ruthlessly efficient. She called her Mom first “Hey Mom, just to let you know that I won’t be coming home for Christmas … yes, I know, I’m sorry , but I have to go Paris, it’s complicated, but don’t worry everything is fine, and I’ll come to see you before I leave”
The rest of the day was spent with her bank, organising cards and transfers. She also bought an air ticket, open ended, and sorted her visa.
She landed at Paris Charles de Gaulle exactly one week from the moment that email dropped into her box. She was buzzing with excitement at having made such a big change in her life, and so quickly.
Following Kath’s instructions she grabbed a cab from the airport and gave him Kath’s address, rue Perronet in the sixth arrondissement. The taxi drove slowly from the airport through heavy end-of-afternoon traffic , and Jen was able to observe the city as they left the peripherique and headed up avenue Grande Armée towards the Arc de Triomphe, before driving down the Champs Elysées; As they crossed the river, the Invalides with its golden dome was lit up against the dark sky
She could feel her heart beat a little faster as the taxi edged its way down the bvd St Germain, then turned left and then right ”Voilà Madame, rue Perronet, ça vous fera 68 euros”, Jen paid the driver and got out of the taxi, while the driver lifted her heavy bags onto the sidewalk. The front door was dark grey, and there was a carved stone head set into the wall above the doorway. It was charming. Kath had warned Jenny, “I’m on the third floor without a lift, so be sure to let me know when you arrive at the door and I’ll help you with your bags”.
She looked at the door bells, searching for a familiar name ‘Pentague’, “that must be it”. She rang the bell and after a few moments a woman’s voice crackled over the interphone. “Hello”, “Oh hi, Kath? It’s Jen, I’m here!” “Oh my goodness Jen, come on up, third floor, I’ll meet you halfway for your bags”
By the time Jen was up to the first floor, Kath was already clattering down the stairs. “Welcome, welcome, bonjour! Oh I’m so glad to see you” They chatted together as they climbed up to Kath’s floor and she flung open the door wide, “this is it!”
Jen gasped, the flat was charming; wooden floors, high ceilings, white walls and long grey velvet curtains. Kath showed her to her bedroom, and then said “I have to let you settle in alone I’m afraid, I’m catering a big brunch tomorrow morning early, and my assistant has called in sick, I just don’t know how I’ll manage to make all the food they’ve ordered”
“Well can I help”, offered Jen, “I love to bake”
Kath didn’t need much persuasion, and after she freshened up Jen was quickly equipped with an apron and a cutter, and put in charge of the cinnamon cookies in christmas tree shapes. They chatted easily as they prepped and baked side by side.
Three hours later and the kitchen was clean and tidy, with a tall pile of boxes on the table, ready for an early start the next day. “That was such fun, thank you Jen for all your help. I wish it was always that easy to share my kitchen space, I have such trouble finding reliable assistants. They are either too inexperienced and I have to redo half the stuff, or they know everything and don’t want to follow my instructions!”
Kath smiled, despite the fatigue of her long journey, she felt relaxed and happy. “Well let me know if I can help you again, I loved it!”
Next chapter in a couple of days, thank you for reading me!
Home for Christmas