We’ve moved. The upheaval of too-small-lorries (and not enough of them) arriving at our UK storage unit. The shock of discovering the head office hadn’t told the removal chaps a single thing about what they were moving – in spite of my tireless efforts to send information and reiterate how much stuff we had et cetera et boring cetera. They were fab – no thanks to the head office. The chasing down France to get there before the lorries… and I’m missing out the last minute logistics organisation of storage key left with trusted bod for third lorry bod to pick up and let himself in to get the rest of our stuff. And amazing friend dashing over to our unit (we’re at this point somewhere very south of Paris) to help the stricken solo removal guy.
We made it, we did some unpacking, we drove back to our mountain studio to move out of that. Twice. And we still need to go back… And where is my garden trowel, my bottle brush and my watering can, please?
INYHOO. Here we are, in a big ole greedy house that has swallowed my running watch completely and utterly right when I’m embarking on a life-changing training regime. Ho hum. The children have started at their respective new schools and I couldn’t be prouder of how they managed their first days. They are even more awesome than the last time I blogged about their #likeagirl awesomeness! I think I furnished them with all the bits and bobs their not inconsiderate lists of ‘fournitures’ demanded. Good god there is A LOT of stuff you have to buy your child when she or he starts collège in France. They might be missing a biro or coloured pencil or two. I didn’t order more as we have heaps, which I packed when we were leaving our mountain apartment. Into a bag that is perhaps still sitting in that apartment. Three hours and a lot of winding roads away. They’ll manage until I next swing by a shop – we scrabbled things together…
So they are meeting people, yay! And so am I. I may have mentioned before that meeting people, making friends and all that is not my strong suit. I do have friends. I do make new ones, but I’m not one of those folk who just magically gathers people about them as some people seem to. Maybe I smell. Perhaps I’m unknowingly rude. Or pretentious. Or just too bloody British. If so feel free to tell me cos otherwise how can I change? I am trying to change, and I am talking to people. In French. Perhaps it’s somehow easier to talk to people in French than in my native language. Perhaps, subconsciously, I’m relaxed in the hope (or even belief) that my fumbling French will hide whatever other social faux pas I make when I’m speaking my native language to another native English speaker. Maybe that’s why, when I think about it, quite a few of my closer friends aren’t in fact English! Ha ha! Either way, I’m enjoying myself, rocking up to strangers and demanding that they engage in conversation.
Enchanted to meet you
And they are enchanted. They really are. They say so all the time. I love this. In the south of England (I don’t presume to speak for anywhere else in the UK) we just say “hello” or, we’re feeling a bit effusive that day, “nice to meet you”. But in France everyone is “enchanté” – enchanted. And you can’t be enchanted without a warm smile, it’s simply impossible. So you introduce yourself and other person is enchanted with a warm, cuddly smile, and you feel like they really, genuinely are and you just want to kiss them. Which sometimes you do. EVEN BETTER!
It reminds me of the part in ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert (which I read this year and is wonderful – do read it. I was put off for a long time, I must admit, by the fact that the film of the book has Julia Roberts in it – I was thinking ‘Pretty Woman’, which, though I enjoyed all those years ago, made me think Eat, Pray, Love might be a bit naff. I was terribly wrong and apologise profusely to both Julia Roberts and Elizabeth Gilbert).
I digressed too much to continue that sentence, even that paragraph, so here’s a new one:
…the part where Elizabeth meets a man, I think it’s in India, and he has the most charming English and declares, when introduced to her “Congratulations to meet you.” You just feel properly recognised and valued by a statement like that. And it makes you want to be friendly back. Which is the point of meeting people isn’t it. Not off-handedly chucking out a ‘hello’ or an ‘erm’ or, as most English people I’m introduced or introduce myself to say, “ .” Requiring me to say “And you are?” FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE! We are all human – I’m not going to bite your tongue off.
Well, not at first meeting anyway.
To be fair, once in a while someone French isn’t enchanted, they are just “Pascal” or “Juliette” or whatever. Once in while it might even be as basic as a smile and hand shake. But that’s ok. I have enough enchantment sparkling up my life at the moment that those folk don’t even give me pause.