From magical visits to real life


Last updated 10/9/2019 at 8:14pm | View PDF

"You have to be patient to live here," Patrick remarked with a wry smile. We were trapped in a narrow street in the small French town where we were spending the month. There was nowhere else to go, so we had to wait while the farmer unloaded her crates.

It's easier to be patient when you're on holiday. Freed from our regular routines and locales, we take annoyances in stride, even finding them charming. Isn't it quaint that we have to get up early to buy the baguettes before they run out?

This was an extended working holiday, however, and I was starting to get irritated. We had work to do, and only planned a quick run to the bakery before it closed (fresh baguettes are a top priority when we're in France).

Patrick's comment got me thinking. Despite the inconveniences of stores that seemed to be closed more than they were open, there certainly was more good than bad with being "stuck" in rural southern France. I adapted to the local rhythm and my work schedule adjusted as well. And I vowed to take this attitude back with me to Hinsdale, my new home. I had moved there a few months earlier and was going through some transition pains.

These pains were frustrating, because Hinsdale is not a "new" new home: Hinsdale is my hometown.

Moving back to Hinsdale was never in my plan. This Red Devils Class of '85 graduate was determined to see the world, and I did, building a family and a career in Europe, Asia and Washington, D.C., along the way.

Every summer, however, my kids came to Hinsdale for an extended stay with Grammie and Grampie. Usually arriving in time for the parade on the Fourth of July, they would enjoy the same summers I had growing up: checking books out at the library, swimming at the pool, riding bikes to the park, camping at the Dunes. I would join them for a few idyllic weeks.

Then - despite my protestations over the years to my parents that I would not be moving back - I did. With both of us empty-nesters, Patrick and I decided it was time to move on, and Hinsdale seemed like the best choice.

It was a slightly bumpy transition in my first months. At first, I was excited about all that was new as I compared Hinsdale to our last home in Hong Kong. Then I started to get annoyed (but not about bread - we're loving the choice here including gluten-free). They were little things that don't matter but were hidden under the gloss of summer holidays. This is my hometown. Why wasn't it working?

My trip to France came just in time. Because what I learned there was to recognize that I am not on holiday. For years I was only a tourist. Now I'm here to live. I'll be patient with the adjustment.

- Beth Smits of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected]


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