Saturday, 17 July 2010

I, stranger?

Most people continue to live in the country in which they were born; I chose not to.

The word for 'foreigner' in French is '├ętranger'; literally 'stranger'. But, having lived here for well over half my life (nearly 38 years), I'm certainly no stranger; even if I AM a foreigner.

When I first arrived I was desperate to fit-in. The last thing I wanted was to be seen as some peculiar foreigner who'd come to buy up the village. I even went as far as driving a blue 2CV (just like the one above) so that I wouldn't attract attention. When we arrived here we were the only English family around, and as such, something of a novelty.

Unfortunately fitting-in is also a state of mind, and my brain continues to tell me that I'm a foreigner. I am constantly aware that I'm in a foreign country; even when I take the dog for a walk (which is when I thought of writing this). It is extraordinary how imprinted 'foreign-ness' can be. But maybe that's just my inner-self reminding me of where I SOULD be.

I've written before about returning to my native Surrey village of Lingfield. Even though we left there when I was just 14, it still feels like 'home'. And I find it difficult to understand quite why.

Still, I'm very happy that I made my move. France is a wonderful country, full of all those life-style goodies that trendy Notting Hill-billies strive for. We live extremely well, and when the sun shines, life is pretty well perfect. But, of course, I'm still a bloody '├ętranger', and always will be. Maybe I shouldn't worry about it.

Posted by Picasa

12 comments:

  1. Although Lingfield still feels like 'home' I don't feel like a foreigner here in New Zealand. I wonder whether that is because it is an English speaking country.

    There are a large number of English people here but then it seems as though there are in France as well and, of course, you are a lot closer to dear old mother England.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Being brought up in a wealthy area of Surrey, we were often made to feel like strangers because we didn't have the same amount of money as our neighbors - Surrey can be like that, and I expect it is even worse since millionaires have become 2 a penny. I feel more at home in the historical landscape than the 'society'. The golf clubs sum it up for me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. To feel like a stranger in your own country must be even worse!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've always felt like a foreigner since I was moved from Sussex to the Yorkshire Dales at the tender age of 12. (In fact I think French might be easier to understand than broad Yorkshire dialect.) And I have always wanted a blue 2CV but 'im indoors says no. I think it would be ideal for me to pootle about the French countryside in. But I expect would still feel foreign!

    ReplyDelete
  5. A wonderful car, Sue. Lady M's always wanted another. I rather fancy a beige Mehari.

    ReplyDelete
  6. On the matter of the car: while spending time in Paris when I was 22, I rode in one with friends, and it had no interior -- the driver sat on a wooden chair, and we sat on a rug on the metal undercarriage. Another time that same summer, I witnessed four guys pick one up (one man per corner) and move it six inches so another car could parallel park. Weren't they called "student cars" at one time?

    ReplyDelete
  7. T. Ours had an orange box as a driver's seat. The rubber bands (that made up the seats) were notoriously fragile.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I can't really add any insight, everyone else has spoken so well. You really worked hard to have such a charmed life, and we're all lucky to get to read about it every day.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Amy, a giant 'bisou' is winging its way to Kansas at this very moment!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have lived in Canada now for 37 years. Despite having been born in Niarobi, having lived 6 years in the UK where most of my extended family are from and still live, I don't really Kenyan, English or Canadian. I have alwasy had a feeling of "Foreign"ness. I wonder where it is I will evenutally feel at home.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Raz, Lady Magnon was a Diplomatic-daughter. She went from Moscow, to Washington, to Caracas, etc etc. Like you, she also seems to have no 'home'. Maybe our 37 years here in France has almost given her one; but I'm not too sure.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...