Hungry Heart: Counting the Days in Paris


Eiffel Tower


Clive and I depart in about a month for our next trip to Paris, England, and the U.S.  We’ll be spending seventy-three nights away from our home in Sydney.

Fourteen of them will be in Paris.

Only fourteen will be in Paris.  How can this be?  How can we be away for seventy-three nights and only spend fourteen in Paris?

There are Others to Consider

globe3The short answer is:  Clive and I have family we want to see, in both the U.S. and England.  We’re not spending more time away because we also have family here in Australia.

Clive’s father is in his 89th year in England, and my parents are approaching their mid-80’s in the U.S.  We also want to see my son, who is now an independent adult in Washington, D.C.

All of them, along with additional family and friends in both countries, want to see us.  As all ex-pats know, it’s impossible to keep everyone happy when you visit, but we try our best to see as many people as time and schedules permit.

We also both love to travel, and try to explore at least one new place on each trip.  This time we’re going to Wales.  I’m excited to see a new country, walk in the Snowdonia region, and visit Hay-on-Wye, a book town I first heard about via Sam’s comment (thank you, Sam!) on my post ‘Travel and Books, Part 5:  Where We Find Them’.

And always, always, I wish we had more time in Paris.

A Hungry Heart


At Beaubourg Fountain

According to Bruce Springsteen, everybody’s got one, and my heart is hungry for Paris.

Two weeks in Paris is nothing less than wonderful.  So what’s my problem?

I’ve had a lifelong love affair with Paris, so much so that ten years ago, I spent my life savings to buy a small apartment there, even though my parents and others told me it was crazy.

The way we have allocated our priorities for this trip feels to me like:


As I always do, I said to Clive, “We have no time in Paris.”  He pointed out nearly twenty per cent of our trip will be spent there.  Our trip in reality looks like:


My feelings may not match reality, but I think, and hope, my fellow bloggers and others who read here understand.  Many of you are either living in Paris and loving it, or dreaming, as I do, of someday living there for an extended period.

I Have, I Have Not


Louvre Pyramid

Early last year, a group of my close women friends in Sydney did the following exercise:  for ten minutes, write down a list of what you have and have not done in your life.

Write everything that comes to mind, with no editing.


The outcome is said to be insight into your life’s most important concerns, dreams, and patterns.

For me there were two big ‘I have nots’:

1.   I hadn’t figured out what to do about my mother’s deteriorating health and need for additional medical care. Some of this was addressed a few months later, somewhat unexpectedly, with her hospitalisation and move to assisted living, but I still want to see her often.

2.   I have not lived in Paris for any significant period of time.  Only once have I visited there for more than ten days, and that was seventeen years ago.


Clive at Arc de Triomphe

I’m Working on It

Last year I left the corporate fast track that for many years tied me to limited vacation days and demanded near-24/7 availability, even when on holidays.

Since then, Clive and I have planned our travel so — despite my constant refrain, “we have no time in Paris” — we have actually increased the number of days we spend there each trip.  We’re going in the right direction.

I adore Sydney, too, and have always envisioned some kind of ‘follow the sun’ ideal, spending half the year at our home in Sydney and the other half at the apartment in Paris, enabling us to more easily visit the U.S. and England from our base in Europe.

What is life, if not work in progress?  As all families do, we juggle responsibilities, expectations of ourselves and others, and our dreams.

I am thankful to be in a position to spend fourteen days in Paris, and can’t wait to get there.

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Père Lachaise Cemetery

Hay-on-Wye, Wales
Related post
Family Globalisation:  It’s Personal

11 Responses

  1. Love the perceived/reality time diagram. I really need to utilize this tool! And what a great dream writing exercise! I spent one solid month in Paris in college and won’t settle for any less time next trip (which is why I haven’t been in nearly 19 years!). Enjoy each and every second of your time in all 73 nights!

  2. Hi Carolyn,

    I think that I’m reading a lot about myself,my way of traveling, etc.
    My travels back to North America are almost always to see kin. We also do several stops in one trip & fraction days for everything ! Last year’s trip had us seeing family in 2 stops, with only the last stop “sans famille” for the pleasure.

    I can understand your concern for aging parents. My Dad has already gone to heaven, but Mom is still strong & working part-time despite her age.

    i’m looking forward to meeting you & Clive if you could spare at least a moment with myself ! You know well that Leesa is excited too !
    Take care 🙂

  3. I hope you enjoy your time in Paris. What plans do you have while here?

  4. I really really really hope you like Hay-on-Wye. My only sad thing for you is that you wont be able to carry all those books back to Australia with you – would cost a small fortune!

  5. jumbleberryjam, a month in Paris sounds perfect! Barbara, I think we do have similar travel patterns, with minimal time sans famille … would be great to meet in person! Linda, we hope to do the usual i.e. walking, exploring new places, revisiting old favourites, and relaxing with just the two of us … and Sam, thank you for your good wishes! Clive said, “Phew!” about limited space for book purchases/weight!

    Thansk and cheers all.

  6. Hope you have a super time, especially in Paris…Hey you are going to get to off my blogger friends .Leesa and Linda…and Leesas favourinte Tea shop will be open..Aimees..

    I have never been to Paris..or spent 19 days on holiday..I wish 🙂

  7. I too love the reality/perception time diagram! Very cool. And the idea of writing down the haves and have nots. Most of all, I love that you put your savings towards buying a pied-a-terre in this city that you so clearly love.

    Vacations do become difficult as expats . . I too feel like we get to go nowhere but ‘home.’ Hope you enjoy Wales and getting to see your familiy too.

    It won’t be long now!

  8. Thanks Anne and Kim!

    Anne, for some reason I thought from reading your blog that you spent several weeks in Italy last year! Wish you could visit Paris too 🙂

    Kim, you understand about those ex-pat vacations! Thanks for visiting.


  9. Hi Carolyn….

    I understand your concern about your mom and her health… It’s very difficult to go through… As Barbara said, she lost her dad, and I, my mom… So, we are both sensitive to this topic…. I do understand you wanting to spend more time with her… I hope you are able to do this.

    Also, when you come to Paris, you know that we will want to steal you away when we can… OR make sure to bring Clive along as we would love to meet him, as well.. Esp. since he loves tea, he will love Aimee’s teahouse and her great choices of tea …. Hope we are able to meet you and spend a little time together even though your time is short…. We’ll stay in touch and I will send you my cell and home number…. How fun!

  10. Thanks, Leesa – I appreciate your (and Barbara’s) special understanding about time with parents.

    Would definitely be fun to connect in person – we will be in touch and hope to see you in Paris!


  11. […] Which leads me to other factors, such as my desire to write a book and spend more time in Paris. […]

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