Il y a un an

Many years ago when I worked freelance for Euronews, I used to love translating and voicing the pieces called ‘Il y a un an’. ‘One year ago today’ offered a brief look back at the news from the same day the year before. I’m not sure why I liked them so much. Perhaps because it was the recent past and I remembered living those moments when the events in the news had happened. Somehow this made it easier to translate. Perspective is everything.

And as I’ve posted in the past, I like to look back.

This time last year we were about to put our house up for sale. The task before us felt daunting. To sell a house in a market that was uncertain due to a breaking news story about what was still being called the ‘Chinese virus’. To find a new place to live, in a different country, then arrange the international move of our household. We were already working in Switzerland, but still, our home was in France. Switzerland is not part of the EU and there is a border with formalities on customs and taxes, healthcare and licence plates.

If hindsight is 20/20, then in retrospect I am grateful that we could not see what lay ahead. That the year ahead would be one of fear and lockdowns, social distance and isolation. That a vaccine would be found but in the meantime, lives and livelihoods would be lost. That we would personally get COVID-19 and be fine (thankfully) but that a year on as a society we would still be struggling to deal with the virus.

A year ago today, there were no masks. I remember being an early adopter of the idea, cutting up an old t-shirt and wearing my make-shift mask to go shopping. The French were suspicious, and resistant. There were rumours of government conspiracies. I felt like a pariah. But it didn’t matter as a few months later, PPE became de rigueur. We were stuck indoors except for essential shopping and a 1-km radius for exercise, one hour a day. If we left the house we had to carry a signed and dated piece of paper with us.

Yet somehow we stuck to the plan. Sold our house, arranged our move. Found a place to live across the border, a little outside of where we’d initially looked but way beyond our expectations in many ways. We made our move, got through all the administrative formalities. Took care of a million other details. And here we are.

Looking back, I’m amazed by what we accomplished. I’m also pretty sure that if we’d decided to wait for greater certainty, we would not have made the move at all. And while I feel some nostalgia for where we were last year at this time, I am glad we did not wait. For us, it was the right move at the right time.

I guess sometimes it’s better not to look too much before you leap.

Where were you a year ago?


  1. Taste of France · February 25, 2021

    Euronews! Cool!
    Your new environs look so beautiful. Change is good, usually. It keeps one out of ruts.
    I don’t want to think about last spring. It was dark on too many levels.

    • MELewis · February 25, 2021

      Yeah, Euronews was pretty cool while it lasted — got lucky on that gig!
      I’m not one for change for change’s sake. But I do agree: it does a body good when needed. Spring 2020 was so dark indeed…there were so many unknowns. Somehow I can’t help but have greater confidence for the future now. But then again, I think I said the same thing last year…

  2. margaret21 · February 25, 2021

    You really have accomplished so much that’s positive this last year. Congratulations indeed. We however, have been largely marking time ….

    • MELewis · February 25, 2021

      Marking time makes perfect sense in many cases. But I do hope that you get a chance to go to Spain before long and meet your grandchild!

      • margaret21 · February 25, 2021

        As is usual these days, she has more photos of her than is altogether decent for a not-even six weeker!

  3. midihideaways · February 25, 2021

    Well done for taking the plunge!! I’m in the same place as this time last year, and nothing much has changed, but then nothing much had changed last year in comparison to the year before… 🙂

    • MELewis · February 25, 2021

      Thanks! From the sounds of it, you are in a very good place so maybe it’s just as well? Hope you are enjoying the early spring. I imagine the season is way ahead in your parts.

      • midihideaways · February 26, 2021

        Today it feels as though spring has already arrived! Things are flowering all over, and the birds are singing… 🙂

  4. Ally Bean · February 25, 2021

    You’ve had an exciting year during an exciting year. Kind of fun to think back on it. As for where I was about this time a year ago, I was making vacation plans for travel to Canada and England– that never happened. So you know, I was here then, remained here during the year, and am still here. Uh huh.

    • MELewis · February 26, 2021

      Ah, now I understand why your comments have been expressing frustration! Perhas it’s time to make new travel plans? For far enough away that you can be fairly sure to be able to go, but something to look forward to. 🤞

      • Ally Bean · February 26, 2021

        Yes, 2022 is beckoning. I’ll take your advice and allow myself to start musing on places to go, people to meet…

  5. Alison · February 25, 2021

    There’s definitely something to leaping before you look! I’m new to your blog, so I appreciate this look back.

    As for me, same old, same old. A year ago I was trying to decide when the best time to visit my daughter in CH would be! Aaaaaand, of course it never happened. Can’t complain too much, though. We’re very fortunate!

    • MELewis · February 26, 2021

      Hi Alison, glad to have you on board! Hope you will be able to make those plans happen this year. Where is your daughter in CH? We are looking forward to a gradual lifting of restrictions (🤞) in March.

  6. Colin Bisset · February 26, 2021

    Sometimes life is about the little steps not the giant leaps but it’s always about forward momentum… Quite a year to look back on!

    • MELewis · February 26, 2021

      I think that will be true for this year for just about everyone — whether positive or negative. I’m not one for change in general but if you’re going to shake things up, might as well leap and get it done.

  7. davidprosser · February 26, 2021

    Last year had a very dodgy start for all of us but you seemed to leap at all the obstacles and overcome them, even to selling your old house in a very stodgy market. I’m glad you made the move safely and that you’re both well. It’s time to take a deep breath ready to repel whatever this year tries to throw at you.. me, I’ve had my jab and I’m looking forward to Spring and perhaps spending time with my grandchildren in May or June depending on which Government releases us first.
    Massive bisous.

    • MELewis · February 26, 2021

      Sounds like good things to look forward to and I do hope they happen before the spring turns to summer. I think it’s only looking back that it seems we leapt over the obstacles — at the time it felt rather like limping along. But we made it, so cheers to that! Stay well, mon ami! x

  8. acflory · February 26, 2021

    Sometimes you do have to leap into the unknown. I don’t do it often, but when I feel compelled to do so, it tends to work strangely well. I’m glad your ‘leap’ worked out for the better too. 🙂

    • MELewis · March 1, 2021

      Thanks! Maybe those of us who normally like to think things through only leap when we are confident it’s the right move. I know you’re staying safe and snug for the moment but perhaps taking virtual ‘leaps’ in your writing? 🤗

      • acflory · March 1, 2021

        To be honest I couldn’t write [fiction] at all for most of last year. The ideas, and the joy, are only now starting to come back. 🙂

  9. nessafrance · February 27, 2021

    Everything seemed to happen very quickly in March last year. We almost had no time to think about it. A year on, it feels like a long, hard slog, although paradoxically the time went fast. Like many people I know, I am feeling fatigued by it. Motivation for writing doesn’t come easily in those circumstances. I know we have it much easier than many who struggle to work with the disease every day. One just has to try to look at the positives, which you have done admirably in your post.

    • MELewis · March 1, 2021

      Thank you! It is hard to keep reminding ourselves how fortunate we are, no matter how true it is. Like you, I feel the pandemic fatigue and a need to get out each day and change perspectives. Thankful we have the seasons to remind us that time moves on, even if it feels we’ve been stuck with this thing forever.

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