I actually wrote this last December, right after returning from France. I got a bit derailed by life, let’s just say… and never posted this, and here it finally is, nearly one year later. C’est la vie, n’est-ce pas?
Well, we’re back home. We left France a bit earlier than we had intended- only by about a week- but here are the reasons:
1. Our house was cold. Too cold. Beautiful, spacious, comfortable, yes. But cold! The beautiful Norwegian Jotul woodburning stove wasn’t doing the trick, and it was only going to get worse. The lady we rented the house from is clearly delusional: she told us we would never need to even turn on the electric radiators. We definitely needed to turn them on, but they were inadequate. She will allegedly be staying there herself in January, and I hope she gets a taste of her own delusional-ness, if that is a word! Oh yes, the house was plenty warm, and it was also walking distance to town… Um, no, on both counts.
2. Snowy, yucky week predicted the week we left. I haven’t looked to see if the predictions were true, but a French friend has unofficially confirmed it. Didn’t want to be stuck in our too cold house… And wow, the roads the day we left: oh my goodness. They were terrible. Trick question: Do you think French drivers slow down for icy roads? Answer: Are you kidding? Of course not!! And our rental car was quite possibly one of the worst cars ever manufactured, especially on snow and ice. Thank God I’m married to a man who can apparently drive any sort of moving vehicle extremely well. We might still be in a ditch in Burgundy.
3. Wanted a Christmas tree. Yes, now that I’ve gotten home I’m pretty sick of the over-the-top American way of “Christmas”, otherwise known as a good excuse to max out the credit cards in the name of religion (sorry to sound so cynical, but it’s how I’m feeling right now). But it felt really sad for it to be December and not to have a Christmas tree, especially for the kids.
3. The biggest reason: HOMESICK!!!!! I think that part was just me. I start missing my family in Texas every so often, and the only cure for that is just to go see them. So that’s what we’re doing.
Now, lest this start to sound like a litany of complaints, let me assure you it is anything but that. My love for France and newfound love for Burgundy remain undiminished. We also decided to leave a bit early so that we could spend some time in Paris. And that is never a bad thing. More on that in another post.
But now that we’re back, I’m having a bit of a hard time with the US. We all know what happened last week. I’m not ready to even type the words out yet, because my brain rejects it every time I even get close to the subject. I will say that it turns out that guns do in fact kill people. I love my country, a fact that is reinforced each time I travel, but we have got to start figuring some things out and quit letting the crazy extremists of any sort drive the bus.
That horrible tragedy aside, I’m also struggling with culture shock for other reasons. Grocery stores are presenting a problem for me. I go in and walk around, not sure anymore what to cook, because so little of it actually looks like food to me right now! Everything is so odorless, so plastic-wrapped, so hermetically sealed. I am craving a good baguette, and though I do know where I can get a good one- a fabulous bakery in Roswell, Georgia, called Artisan Bakery, I haven’t been able to make it over there yet. I bought one at a local chain bakery instead. The lady put on rubber gloves in order to wrap it in plastic to hand it to me…
But back we are, in our tidy suburb where a nasty note from our HOA about the state of our lawn awaited us, where giant SUVs rule the land. As Peter Mayle put it in Encore Provence, “we should have felt quite at home… we wallowed in the convenience of America, in the efficiency and extraordinary variety of choice, and we practiced native customs. We shopped by phone. We drove sedately. We took vitamins and occasionally remembered to worry about cholesterol. There was even a period when we drank eight glasses of water a day. In other words, we did our best to adapt. And yet there was something missing. Or rather, an entire spectrum of sights, sounds and smells and sensations that we had taken for granted in Provence, from the smell of thyme in the fields to the swirl and jostle of Sunday-morning markets.Very few weeks went by without a twinge of what I can best describe as homesickness.”
Yes, I do believe that’s it. Homesickness for life in France. Who knew that I could fall so deeply in love with the Burgundy countryside and the French way of life so quickly? Well, I guess I knew. It happens every time I go, and it’s the reason we go every year.
Now, to start planning our next trip to France…