Thursday, 20 February 2014

Getting Back




I am in France for a couple of days and it already feels a bit funny. When I say 'funny', I suppose I mean 'weird'. Nothing seems to ever change in my small village. The cars are as small, old and rusted as ever, and my late grandmother's car is no exception. Frankly, it feels a bit like driving a huge pot of yogurt. Interesting. My grandfather buys his fresh baguette every day. He then reads his newspapers. Every day the same ritual.

When you visit a shop, you need to greet the shopkeeper with a loud 'bonjour Madame' (or 'Monsieur'). Unlike in London, you mustn't ask 'how are you?' (Comment ca va?) too often, otherwise you will get told something like 'I am fine, nothing has changed since I last saw you (a month ago )'. Lesson learned, I will shut up next time.


So here I am, trying to remember that I used to belong here but finding it hard to fit in. To make matters even worse, today I bumped into an old friend of mine on the street, and it turns out that he is an estate agent now. Apparently, we were classmates when I was 7 or 8. It was embarrassing: I couldn't even remember his name. His face and voice were vaguely familiar, but that was it. We had a quick chat, and he was very adamant that we should meet again. How weird. There can only be two possible reasons for this:
- 1. we had a thing for each other at the time (probably more on his side than mine -I think I would remember?);

-2. I have greatly improved over the last 30 years (or so - am rounding down a bit). I think that's the reason, right?

Given the fact that I was a stern geek as a child, can you see any other explanation ?

Anyway, tonight I will be back home. In London. And it feels good. Because the past should stay where it belongs: in the past...

18 comments:

  1. Pot of yogurt? THAT is funny! Perhaps the agent thinks you're a potential client? Or he has some other less business like agenda....

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    1. Yes, pot of yogurt...It is a 'Peugeot 106'. On the bright side, I really felt the road. A bit too much sometimes...

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  2. He saw those hot picks of you in the paper...

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    1. I don't think he did...they haven't reached my remote village, Marie!

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  3. Muriel, it is strange that you feel so much a foreigner at home. I have heard you make similar statements about living in England. As for the guy, you have had the same problem in England. Let's face it. You are always a stranger in a strange land who keeps getting propositioned wherever you are. Wow. There is no way for you to think outside of the box because you are already there. That is so awesome.

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    1. Thank you, Annie. I understand that you might find it awesome, but sometimes I really feel out of place. Not nice. Oh, and I need to lose some weight too...

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  4. I can't understand how anyone could remember a voice or a face from the age of 7 or 8! I hope you can come to accept that you don't have to fit in no matter where you go. Just be your wonderful self and enjoy the experience!

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    1. I can't really explain how I recognised him. I just knew he was who he claimed to be.I think that we were playing together in the local playground after school. It was so long ago...

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  5. That is exactly how I feel when I go back to Long Island and visit some of my old haunts...They don't feel the same anymore. That's what happens after 4 or more decades...

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    1. It is a weird experience isn't it? They don't feel the same to me, but they do to everybody else...

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  6. I love going back to where I was born, but I'm glad I don't live there any more. Going backwards is not good for mental health.

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    1. So true. And, frankly, I am glad to be in London now!

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  7. I love the formmality of the exchanges in French shops...so much nicer than the UK.

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    1. It is indeed much nicer, except when you are in a rush. Because if you are and forget to say 'Bonjour Madame', well, you will not get served. I remember an American lady who forgot to say 'Bonjour' in a shop when I was living in Paris. The shopkeeper froze and asked her 'Haven't you been taught to say 'Bonjour' in a shop? How rude!'. You don't mess with french shopkeepers!

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  8. I didn't like going back in my thirties and forties, but I don't mind it in my fifties. I have more separation from where I grew up now, and can be more objective. Also, with so many older relatives gone now, time spent with relatives of my generation somehow seems more precious. It is odd to almost be the senior generation in the family, and I feel a different bond with my family now.

    Muriel- you always get hit on! You must get used to being attractive, and enjoy it!

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    1. I totally understand where you are coming from when you say that you have a different bond with your family. I do too, but the constant complaining really gets to me.
      As for getting hit on, I really don't understand. Don't repeat it, but I am very normal.

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  9. I knoooow, right??!! I am less and less sure where I belong. I am certainly not feeling at home in Germany anymore, although that's the country where I've lived the longest (without being German!) - Austria (my passport's home) doesn't feel right and Switzerland has lost the home feel a while ago. I only lived there for three years but always used to feel very much at home. Not so much any more. And London, after 10 years, has started to alienate me recently. Actually, the longer I stay and the more I know, the more I feel like I should get out. But where to go??
    Love, Dxx
    PS: Bikram yoga together soon?

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    1. Well, Deborah, maybe we need to accept that we are citizen of the world. Easier said than done, I know. The thing is, I am never happier than when I am about to board a flight. I would love to go to Bikram yoga with you. Where do you practice? I used to go to a studio close to Victoria but I find it a bit far (well, that's my excuse for being a lazy bum anyway...). Let me know.

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