Thursday, January 17, 2008

Slappy Barfday to me

I can't believe it's been 2 weeks since I last posted; things have been mighty busy with a mobile youngun round the house. I was thoughtfully remembered, too: lovely earrings from a wonderful husband (still replacing stuff that was stolen in Belgium, but I'm not bitter), beautiful flowers as well as tomates farcies from the in-laws so I didn't have to cook (MIL makes a mean stuffed tomato), and the coveted rainjacket I'd been eyeing back in VA (Mom, how did you remember?) and new bobbins for my sewing machine. Also special to me were the e-mails from my friends -- thanks for all the best wishes! I am certainly a lucky girl.

I do want to mention my small identity crisis that I too briefly mentioned in my last post, since I've had some nice comments and letters from friends. The sadness has gone with the jet lag, but I still have to say that for the first time, it seemed like a lot had changed when I went back for a visit. Even in Japan, I always felt that I had just left for the weekend once I got back to Virginia. It's obvious that life goes on without me, but I really sensed it this time. Maybe the threshhold to notice this is 3 years, or maybe it's the fact that I had a baby in a foreign country and Lord knows that is definitely an experience for any body to go through. Maybe the change is on my side, and that's a little unsettling.

It's not that I don't feel as strongly attached to family and friends because that I certainly do, as is evidenced by the fact that home now refers to two places for me (so I'll have to make it clear via context which one I'm talking about). It's more that I found myself in public places having to look around to see what other people were doing because I couldn't remember. I'm used to looking like an idiot in France and expect it, seeing as I wasn't born here and the new rules are now, well, new, but I wasn't prepared to be openly mocked by teenage girls in heavy makeup while I was clumsily attempting to pay for my groceries by credit card at the hometown store (although karma was clearly on my side in the US and whacked them with her heavy stick once we all made it to the parking lot. Hope your car battery wasn't dead, my dearies). It was a bit unnerving to have to watch others in the place that I've lived most of my life because I'd forgotten how to do these piddly small things. It seemed to happen on a small level each time I left the house, and by the time I felt like I had things straight it was time to leave again. My mother would tell me not to sweat the small stuff, so I won't. On the bright side, I can still order a gingerbread latte at Barnes and Noble without breaking a sweat.

It's nap time for someone who has kindly been playing pat-a-cake with herself long enough to let me type the last few sentences, so this will have to end without any real conclusion. Who has time to conclude these days, anyway...

12 comments:

screamish said...

I don't think the threshold is 3 years, just however long it takes...if you've had any big changes in your life, you'll get that effect, and a baby certainly qualifies.

I recently went back home only the second time in 7 years, and the changes were huge...and I felt kind of excluded..life definitely goes on without us...but as long as you've got something tanglible and positive in your life in france, you can anchor to that...

Jennifer said...

Gingerbread latte... what I wouldn't give for one of those right now!

Well, I hope all is well for you and your family so far in 2008 - I wish you the best year yet.

Chris said...

Happy Belated Birthday!

I've lived on my island my whole life so I have no advice. But I can certainly imagine feeling the way you do. Teenagers can be snarky no matter where you live. Karma!

PutYourFlareOn said...

Happy birfday! :)

This subject you've just blogged about is something I've been thinking about the last month. We'll have to get together soon and talk about it. I feel the same as you do.

christina said...

Happy Birthday!

And I totally get how you're feeling. You're not alone.

tara said...

Ohh, I didn't know it was your birthday!!! Well, happy day all the same. I'm still having a little adjustment problem being back in the US after a year. I suppose it does get easier. Anyway, enjoy all your new toys and say hello to S and E for me.
-Tara

Kristy said...

Happy Birthday Deb!

KathyUSA said...

I remember soon after I moved to "this" county, I went to Walmart and didn't make eye contact with anyone. I remember thinking, "these are not my people". Now when I go back to our original county, I'm not sure those are my people anymore either. And I'm the worse at thinking of how where ever I am should do things like where I came from. Like kids programs are better over here than over there. And as bossy as I am it's hard for me not to say, "we should do things like this or that", to some of the parents. Lord help me keep my mouth shut sometimes!

I started a blog site too. Check me out at. . .
http://kathyvausa.blogspot.com/

the fabulous adventures of sarah said...

Happy Belated Birthday my dear PMF!!!

I thought about you nearly a million times on your big day this year!!

So I got so busy with le new job that I haven't had a chance to send you warm wishes until now!

I finished both the books you sent me, thank you so very much! I really enjoyed them both and have even passed on The Memory Keepers Daughter to a friend who had that one on her list for a long time.

I hope you had the happiest birthday yet, and many more!!

Reb said...

Happy Birthday (a couple days late).
this post hits so close to home (so to speak) for me too. Hopefully we'll all get to the point one day where we relish the double life and the special priveledges we get for living in two worlds.

Pardon My French said...

Thanks for the birthday wishes, everybody! It's nice to know I am not alone...

The Late Bloomer said...

Oh my gosh, how did I miss your birthday post? I'm sorry I didn't send you wishes sooner, but I wanted to take a second to send you some BELATED birthday wishes now! And like Aimée, I too have been experiencing a lot of the same feelings you mentioned in this post. It really is tough, being torn between the two places, but at the same time, with time, I really feel like France is more and more my home, where my comfort zone is, even if there are a bunch of silly things (like hot pretzels and bagels!) that I miss from the U.S. Along with my family, of course!