To France or Not to France

That doesn't really sound like an existential question, does it? However, for us, this decision involves thought about some of our basic life values and goals. Here's the story: Two of our very best friends are inveterate travelers. They've been on annual European and Asian treks since 1969, some lasting as long as eight weeks. Of course, they've traversed the US many times over. In other words, they have the traveling thing down pat.

We, on the other hand, are fairly new at the travel game, at least the international part. In May 2005, we traveled with them to the UK, where we spent two weeks doing what I call "England 101." It was your basic survey course of the country, that took us through six cities from Brighton to York. We drove 2000 miles (most of it much too fast, since my husband was at the wheel of our nice Saab Turbo), and I sat in the back seat soaking up the most beautiful green vistas I have ever seen. It was a dream come true for me, and I look back on it now with great longing to be meandering through those valleys and strolling through those little villages once again.

Well, this year our friends took two (yes, two!) trips to France, each one for about 16 days. They invited us along, but we reluctantly declined, since we hadn't yet paid off all the bills from our last sojurn abroad! Last weekend, we had dinner with them and they announced they had booked tickets in May 2007 for a two week trip to Provence, and wouldn't we like to join them.

Of course we want to join them - the prospect of spending two weeks in Provence (with a side trip to Paris) makes my heart beat faster and itch with longing. But here is the dilemma - do we want to incur another round of debt for this trip, or shouldn't we be really serious about saving for that mid-life career and lifestyle change that we hope to embark on in another three or four years? And, should we plan a trip that far in advance, considering the health conditions of both our mother's?

Part of me (the part that has hungrily devoured every Peter Mayle and Frances Mayes book)says, you should just GO - who knows if you'll have another opportunity like this, and why put off dreams in the hope of an uncertain tomorrow, yada yada. The other part (the part who never left home until she was 21, and who was trained to be practical and responsible) says, you have no business spending all that money or leaving your mother to fend for herself for two weeks.

So, what do you think? To France or not to France? That is the question....