Thursday, June 7, 2012

Going home



The time has come to head home for a well-deserved and much needed break. 


I have been looking forward to this for weeks. Correct that. I have been looking forward to this for weeks, when I was not busy teaching or volunteering at Junior's school. It has been a bit hectic here lately, with the 6th grade Graduation party and all the year-end, school-related events. I know many of you can relate.


Still, in a few short days, (once I have prepared all the Post-it notes that will help Le Husband function around the house while Junior and I are in Europe,) I will embark on the long trip home. Paris and my dear Nice are on the menu this year. French Girl, it is time to pack those bags!


Ah, Paris, si romantique!

Imitation Hermès steamer trunk, anyone?


Exactly a year ago, this family was about to leave on a mini-tour of Europe. You may remember this story, and the travelogue that followed.


A funny thing happens when you live so far away from your homeland, and all your family. No matter how enthusiastically - and at times dutifully - you try to fit in; create a life for yourself; make friends (and we have been lucky on all counts for the last 16 years,) you remain... une pièce rapportée. An add-on. An Expat. De partout, et de nulle part. Not quite from there anymore,  not quite from here either.


Sure, your [adopted] culture feels familiar. You get the locals, and their strange ways. You bloom where you are planted, as they say, because that is what people do. Life would be pretty miserable, (not to mention lonely,) otherwise. 


Still, things can get hard when you get pangs of that old feeling they call homesickness.





It does not help that I teach French for a living; or that I instruct travel workshops on France and French culture. Oh, and let's not forget the wonderful blogs I follow daily,  where my friends - francophiles and Paris lovers extraordinaires - write enthusiastically about my homeland, while publishing enticing photos of la Belle France. 


It does not help that wherever I go, France follows me around. Seriously. French culture is everywhere, or at least symbols of the French way of life. I do not look for signs, I promise. They seem to find me... 


Even with its name mispelled,
everyone will recognize the French dessert that inspired this item


Illustration. Last weekend. Winslow, a small [favorite] town on an island, in the middle of the Puget Sound. Take a look.


Spotted in the Pacific Northwest for you...


Fellow blogger Vicki Archer lives in Provence...
but her book made it all the way to Winslow!

Eiffel Tower luggage tag, Parisian-themed stationery, anyone?
A bathroom is not a bathroom without French hand-milled soaps...


Cupcakes à la Française?


When we sat down at a favorite café serving traditional Northwest fare, Montmartre and le Sacré Coeur watched over our table. 






As soon as I left the restaurant, I noticed this cheerful sign in a window...


(because everyone in the Pacific Northwest needs to be able
to say: "Red hens" in French!)


In another boutique, a local was busy dreaming...




Yes, it is a fact. As the annual trip home gets closer, and closer, France takes over, as if to prepare me for the transition. France takes care of her own. She knows I might feel disoriented when I land at that God-awful Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport. I might have lost "mes repères" (my bearings,) you see. But France won't allow it. "Come home," she whispers. "Come home, look what's waiting for you across that big-@$# continent; across the pond! Do you remember now? Do you?"


I do. 


And as I leave the airport behind, and settle into my parents' apartment or our residence du jour; as I adjust once again to smaller everything (houses, beds, bathrooms,) I surrender to old familiar sights, smells and feelings. They are so much sharper, and brighter than on photos, blogs, and in my students' textbooks. They are the past [treasured memories] a fleeting present [mine only for a few days,] and [one hopes] part of my future. 


Then, like Cyrano(*), another child from le Sud-Ouest, I can finally exclaim: "Mordious! On est bien chez soi."


A bientôt.
Welcome Home, French Girl!




(*) Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmond Rostand.
"By Golly, it feels good to be home!" 




Afterword: I find it quite extraordinary that only two photos in this post were actually shot en France, don't you?

72 comments:

  1. I miss France so much when we are at home in California and wait eagerly until we return to Sablet. I can only sort of imagine how much you, a French girl, is looking forward to returing to visit her homeland through this tender post. I hope you have a safe trip home and wonderful reunion with your family and friends in France.

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    1. Merci beaucoup Michel. What a wonderful message. You and I are lucky to have houses on both sides of the proverbial pond... Wouldn't it be nice to be able to go back and forth more often?

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  2. Bienvenue chez toi Veronique! Enjoy every minute of being home. Hey! We're in the same time zone!
    bisous,
    aidan xo

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    1. That's right Aidan. In a few days, we will be in the same time zone for a change... and you live near a former "home" of mine, Montpellier. Who knows? I might swing by one day when I visit my grand-mother's old place in Meze...

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  3. I know all too well the pangs of homesickness and how excited you must be! Travel safely please and I don't even need to tell you to "have a good time" because I know you will make the most of it all...

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    1. Punaise, Heather! You got that one right! Planning to make the most of it. I know you are excited to see your sister in a few short weeks. Sometimes it is nice when "Home" comes to you too!

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  4. Hello Veronique,
    Thank you so much for showing me where 'I' too have ended up.... To see My French Life all the way in Winslow... now that is exciting...
    Have a wonderful time in France... enjoy your family and your beautiful homeland... Safe travels... xv

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    1. Bonjour Vicki. I thought you would love seeing your book in that small bookstore on an island :-) I own it, so it was easy to spot! I will be in touch in case we can hook up in Nice during your son's event.

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  5. la vision americaine de la France est quand même tres parisienne (a part les poules, peut-être..) Et la Bretagne, Et les Volcans d'Auvergne, les chateaux de la Loire, les cirques pyrenéens?..Heureusement que tu ajoutes un peu de Côte d'Azur et donc de bleu à tout ça!
    Fais un tres bon voyage, et là , je peux te dire "A bientôt" j'espère!

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    1. Cocorico Malyss! Tu as tout à fait raison, mais en étant si loin, je ne fais jamais la difficile. Je reconnais avoir posté la dernière photo (que tu reconnais certainement) un peu pour toi aussi, une façon de te remercier pour m'avoir donné si souvent une superbe vitrine sur Nice! A très bientôt...

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  6. Lovely post....I would love to go to Paris one day :)

    Tanesha x
    www.tanesha-marie.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Who wouldn't, Tanesha? I hope your dream comes true...

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  7. Pour ta soif d'excellenbte culture française... n'oublie pas, Véronique, puisque tu viens à Nice, qu'Antibes est tout près. Un verre sous les remparts pourrait être très agréable, non?

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    1. Quel tentateur, ce Richard! Qui sait, j'aurais peut-être bien le temps de faire un petit crochet par Antibes pendant ma visite...

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    2. Fais-moi savoir quand tu viens!
      Bon dimanche, Véronique!

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  8. I know what you mean! Last year was the first of many that I didn't get to go back to the US for my annual visit and it really affected me. Much more than I would have thought.
    Hope you have a wonderful time at home!

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    1. And, that, my friend, I totally understand. I am so happy you are enjoying your new corner of France. You picked well. Thank you for stopping by.

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  9. such a happy and well written post...and truly want to comment on every little bit-but again a post within a post...we cannot have that when your time needs to be allocated elsewhere, such as on those post-it notes! I believe those pictures showing the trunck and other various what not and such are homegoods (marshall's or tj maxx) stores-LOVE THEM! and all that french stationary -oui please-i'd buy it in a minute and the cupcake add-ons i used last bastille day for my fellow french studiers-love them too! but what i simply love best is the way you sum up having a foot in both worlds....although i do not personally experience it, i can imagine the off- kilter feeling it can bring-for sure! i just want to wish you, with all my heart, safe travels for you and jr-happy sale hunting- and much love, happiness and contentment as you return to the physical embrace of your family. i hope you are going to keep us posted on your comings and goings while at your OTHER home...hope it is a great trip v HAPPY PACKING!!!

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    1. Bonjour g. I still have a few days before I start packing up, so Post-it notes production is in full swing :-) You have a good eye. The first two shots were taken at the local Tj Maxx. I love how you described living between two cultures: "off kilter," that's it, exactement, all too often. You can count on me to "report" from Old Europe. Have I ever let you down? :-)

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    2. NO - NEVER- NOT ONCE- (let us down ) yeah for us we are there through your posts...CANNOT WAIT-forgive my spelling errors too -always so quick to type/send-i talk fast too -thanks as always for the very kind reply-xoxo g

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  10. While I don't envy you being so far from home, oh how I envy your impending trip! Have an absolutely wonderful time mon amie- and I will look forward to having lunch when you return!
    xx

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    1. Merci Kim. Let's have lunch when I return indeed. In the meantime, gros bisous to you and cute "Petit Louis." I will think of him every time I meet a Bouledogue français in France. Wishing for warm weather, for you, and me.

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  11. Dearest Véronique,

    Oh, I know too well the feeling. The anticipations is emotional too and than being there. The time will quickly slip through your hands while there, never enough to drink it all in. Vitamins for taking back home across the big pond... and than the difficult kick-off time once back on the other side. At least, honestly, it takes me quite some time to come back to 'reality'... C'est la vie.
    Bon voyage!
    Love,
    Mariette

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    1. Bonjour Mariette. Great point you are making. There is almost more emotion pre-departure. As soon as I land, family and a busy schedule will take over; time will fly in a whirlwind (it always does.) In the end, I will be looking forward to returning to the Pacific Northwest as I - and everyone else here - hope summer will have arrived by then. It'd better!

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  12. Ah, ah, ah! Why have I not been able to keep up with your blog!? Now as it rolls around to exactly a year since our Big Trip last summer to London & Paris, I finally stop in, and you make me "home"sick. Is there a word in either language for that feeling of needing to be back to a place that is not home, but is so, so familiar?

    I of course wish you un excellent séjour chez toi! Feel free to share with us the joys of Nice and the coast (I have been to Nice, but nowhere else south of the Loire, so am eager to see what you can show us!)

    And then I also wish you bonne rentrée to life in Seattle, which will also feel like returning home after your time away (and long, long flight). ;)

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    1. Welcome back Alison. If there is a name for that feeling you describe, I don't know it, but that is definitely how I felt for so many years, about the United States, before we moved here for good. Maybe it is called "Having two homes on separate ends of the world?" -- Hope you got to catch up with last summer's travelogue, as it takes you through London, Paris, la Dordogne, Collioure, Spain... and finally, Nice, bien sûr. A bientôt.

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  13. Have a happy wonderful time at home, Paris and France, Veronique. Have a safe trip and enjoy every minute of it.

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  14. Bon Voyage Veronique. =) j'espère que c'est un delicieux trip. Can't wait to hear all about it. =) Enjoy.

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    1. Sandy, you and I know how "delicieuse" France can be :-)

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  15. Lovely post today. I know you and Alec will have a wonderful time in your homeland. I hope the sun shines on you there. I hope it shines on us here aussi! Take care.

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    1. Merci beaucoup Cherie. If you and I wish hard enough, then surely, there will be sun in Europe and in Seattle... surely?

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  16. Oops, in the middle of writing a comment it disappeared.

    Hope you have a memorable, beautiful, safe trip and take lots of pix for your blog friends. ;)

    So true about French culture everywhere. In Lake Oswego for 6-weeks recently and the two most popular bistros were owned by a Frenchman also from the south of France.

    But I get homesick for other places I've lived in the U.S. We don't miss what we don't love so a little sigh from the heart.

    Will miss your generous, informative, enjoyable posts...but yes you certainly deserve a rest! All best, Veronique. <3

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    1. Not to worry, Suzanne. Even though I do deserve a rest, I will likely keep blogging along the way. I would hear from some faithful readers if I did not :-) Thank you for your kind message, as always!

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  17. I can't even imagine what it would be like to live in another country. To have that feeling of home, but not quite home. To have your heart be somewhere else and all your memories be with it.

    I've always wondered if my dad feels that way. He hates India with a passion and would never admit that he misses it. (He probably doesn't). But I do wonder if he sometimes feels like this isn't entirely his home...

    As for you, I hope you have a very safe journey to France. I'm looking forward to reading all about it and seeing photos of your trip! You're lucky to call such a beautiful country home! xoxo

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    1. Dearest Jenny, merci beaucoup! I can't answer for your Dad, and I do not know why he hates India, but unless you have fled your native land following political or religious persecutions, for example, I can't imagine you would entirely forget about it or not wish to return, at least once in a while. In my case, I am lucky I get to go back at least once a year. Thank you for stopping by, Jennifer Fabulous!

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  18. Please, have a pleasant time in France. Your posts always are very special for me. Maybe because, we Russians, love France so deeply, so passionately.

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    1. Merci beaucoup Olga. Russians have great taste, don't they? ;-) Seriously though, it is interesting to see how entertwined the histories of both countries are. A bientôt, my Russian friend.

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  19. Ainsi, vous revenez à la belle France. J'espère que vous avez un temps merveilleux ces vacances.

    Merci de visiter mon blog, aussi pauvre que mon Français est.

    A la prochaine!

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    1. Ne soyez pas si modeste, Rob-Bear. Je rends visite à votre blog avec beaucoup de plaisir.

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  20. How excited you must be! I've visited France regularly over the years and lived there for a year and I miss it so I can only imagine what it must be like for you to live so far away from this wonderful country. As soon as I arrive on French soil, I feel excited - the sounds, the smells.....love it all! You are right - French culture is everywhere (because we all like and admire 'things French'!) Enjoy your precious time with family and friends. You have inspired me to start planning my next trip! Just the photos of the café chairs and the pains au chocolat was enough!
    Bon voyage et à bientôt! miss b x

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    1. Ah. Glad you will be returning to France soon, Miss b. I am actually quite proud of the fact that so many people seem to know and appreciate French culture. Even those who criticize France can't seem to stop talking/writing about it (I made a comment to that effect in my last post about D-Day...) Ah, France. You will never leave the world indifferent, and that is both your blessing, and your curse :-)

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  21. Wonderful post Veronique. I can totally relate to this 'in-between-ness" .
    I'm reading now a hilarious book "Paris, I love You But You're Bringing Me Down" by Rosecrans Baldwin, here's the very descriptive quote: "Paris was and umbrella, a dream I carried around in case the weather turned bad".
    I've opened this colorful umbrella only three times, but always carry it with me.
    Can only imaging your feelings and how anxious you are to be there again, to connect, to hug loved ones and to share your joy with your son. What a lucky guy he is.
    Have a safe and unforgettable trip. Bon voyage!
    Natalie

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    1. A thoughtful message, as always, Natalie. Merci beaucoup. I will look into the book you mentioned. As I was telling a friend recently, I just can't believe how many books are still put out there about France and the French culture... not all of them good, that's true, but this one sounds promising. Merci et à bientôt.

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  22. Oh, this is exactly how I feel about living away from home. I am so happy to be living in your homeland right now though. Bon voyage! And maybe I'll see you in Paris?!

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    1. The good thing in your situation, Nicola, is that your home is only a couple of hours away from France, or less... I am glad you get to go back to the Channel Islands on a regular basis. I wish I lived closer too...

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  23. I can only imagine your excitement at going home, Veronique. I feel the same way when my husband and i fly to Maine for a summer vacations. That's where both our families live. (I realize it's not nearly as far as you go.) But trust me, West Coast culture is different in many ways from East Coast/New England! :) These are times when magic would definitely come in handy. We could visit much more often. A little twitch of my nose.. (do you remember 'Samantha' on the television show Bewitched?) Just a twitch, without the idiotically long flight with the yucky stops and bad airport 'food'! Anyway, have a marvelous, safe trip, and a wonderful time with your family and friends! Can't wait to see your posts upon your return to the Pac Northwest...

    Mary

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    1. Ah, Mary, "Bewitched" was a favorite show of mine, and I remember practicing twitching my nose as a child to try and make things happen, like Samantha... I never gave up on magic, though, and years later, enthusiastically embraced the world of a young wizard named Harry Potter :-) For now, I have to be content with yucky stops and bad airline food, but that's a means to an end, eh? Thank you for stopping by. Stay tuned. I will be in touch during the trip.

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  24. Veronique, it is so ironic that I discover your blog,sitting here a full continent away to read about you going home. I too am heading home next week--to Bainbridge! Bon voyage!

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    1. Ironic indeed, and I am glad you stopped by. How cool is that, to say "I am from Bainbridge Island?" You are one lucky girl, Zoe. Stay in touch so we can get to know each other better.

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  25. Have a wonderful trip home to France...hope you enjoy every minute!! when will you be in Nice?? I move there in the summer!!

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    1. Bonjour Catherine. Getting close to Nice, then? I can't say that I blame you. I will be in Nice June 22-29. Let's stay in touch! Email me your contact info when you get a chance!

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  26. I am giddy with excitement over your trip home, both to your family and for your time spent in Nice. Oh, the places you will go!

    I discovered your blog as you ended your trip last year and I look forward to all that you will share with us. I knew immediately that the café chairs were Le Nemours in Paris. Being an American, I also recognized TJMaxx just as quickly!

    Enjoy your time as will your parents and Junior. I will be thinking of you daily with all your adventures.

    Bises,
    Genie

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    1. Dear Genie. I remember exactly your first message on my blog last summer. I am glad you found me! :-) You and Virginia are my favorite Alabama ladies, as you know :-) I can't wait for my French adventures to start... A few more days, a few more days...

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  27. Veronique, I am delighted to hear you are preparing to return to the land of your birth. I think I understand all you say. Enjoy every single moment and let your family spoil you

    Helen xx

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    1. Bonjour Helen. I promise I will let my family spoil me, as you ordered. It has been a long time :-)

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  28. I got completely distracted by the macaron trinket holder thingie!
    Still a few of the real things in my fridge so I'll try to pass.
    Bon Voyage V.!

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    1. That macaron would not hurt you. It's not edible, Carol :-)

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  29. Just goes to show how many people love your homeland (and in particular, it's capital). Enjoy your trip home. I hope you have a wonderful time
    xxxxx

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    1. Many people have excellent taste, don't they? :-)

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  30. What is meant by going "home" is not always obvious. After 38 years in Paris, with no family anymore in my country of birth and youth, with kids and grandkids here, "home" for me is now Paris. Of course, to have Paris as a home may make the difference! :-)

    ... and the last photo is from Quai Rauba Capeu I believe. I quite often stayed at the hotel on the top!

    Enjoy your stay "home" and if you feel like it, maybe we could meet quickly when you pass by Paris!

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    1. I agree with you Peter, and I am happy that in your case, you have found a new home in France, and in Paris. And yes, you have identified the part of Nice correctly. I will be there in a few short days :-) I will be in touch. A bientôt.

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  31. Veronique, I am so excited for you. You are now here as I write this, so have a wonderful time in your homeland with your family and friends. I can't wait to see your posts.
    Bizous
    XXX

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    1. Not yet, Dash, not yet. Another hours before we land at Charles de Gaulle airport. Thank you for your message. I will do my best to entertain my millions of readers during the trip :-)

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  32. the sun is shy, "the rain makes jokes", but good restaurants in the "Place of the Impressionists" at Rueil Malmaison awaits you as Sunday.
    (Rueil Malmaison is a town at north west from paris. It is the town where Napoleon 1st and Josephine live)
    We are very excited to eat french (britany) "galettes" with you and Alec.
    They have a famous galette with St Jacques Shells with its delicious leek sauce...
    We will drink a fantastic perry cider!!!
    (they have Nutella)
    We are just wainting you....and our best friend....sun!
    bisous

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    1. All great news, little Brother! Galettes au sarrazin. Crêpes au Nutella: I am in! A dans deux jours! Bisous

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Bonjour! I love hearing from you, my readers. To quote a fellow blogger, my friend Owen, "Comments are the icing on blogcake... Comments are the UFO in the twilight sky bearing news from other planets... Comments are raspberry vinegar in salad dressing... Comments are the cool balm of after-sun moisturizing lotion... Comments are the moment the band comes back out onstage to play an encore... Comments are the gleam in the eye across the room in a smoky bar... Comments are the rainbow after the rainstorm..." Merci for your comments! French Girl in Seattle