Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Just passing through?

Today 'Out of Sheer Rage: In the Shadow of D.H. Lawrence', a book by Geoff Dyer about not writing a biography of D.H. Lawrence arrived in my mailbox (yay for Amazon!) Not that I have any interest in D.H. Lawrence, in fact I've never read anything by him, but I read somewhere or other that it's a great book. And 5 pages in, I already feel compelled to quote it on the blog, so it must be doing something right I suppose :

"Although I thought I had settled in Paris, really I had just been passing through, extremely slowly. That is all anyone English or American can do in Paris: pass through. You may spend ten years passing through but essentially you are still a sightseer, a tourist. You come and go, the waiters remain. The longer I stayed the more powerful it became, this feeling that I was just passing through. I had thought about subscribing to Canal Plus as a way of making myself feel more settled but what was the point in subscribing to Canal Plus when, in all probability, I would be moving on in a few months? Obviously the way to make myself more settled was to acquire some of the trappings of permanence but there never seemed any point acquiring the aptly named trappings of permanence when in a couple of months I might be moving on, might well be moving on, would almost certainly be moving on, because there was nothing to keep me where I was."

This really resonated with me (other than the fact that I was itching to put in extra punctuation while typing that - I think I do use too many commas though), because every time I buy a simple thing like a fan or a lamp or whatever it may be, I feel that I'm not just buying a lamp, I'm making a tiny little vote for France, a small investment, one more miniscule root into French soil. I know that sounds ridiculous, but when you have 'things' you do feel so much more settled here. And despite my love of travelling, I'm starting to feel like that's what I need. It's been 4 years since I left New Zealand the first time, and I've since lived in nine different cities in five different countries. NINE. In all but two of those places (my hometown of Auckland and London) I turned up knowing not a soul. It's hard starting again all the time, it's hard saying goodbye.

Depressingly, I have this contract for a year, and then after that there's no guarantees. At the moment, it doesn't look good for renewing it, but I'm not panicking yet. But if I can't renew it, there's really no reason to be particularly optimistic that I can even get a decent job in France, let alone in Tours, not exactly the centre of the universe. I'm smart and educated and good at my job (not to sound full of myself, but it's true), but I think the youth unemployment rate here is something like 25% (correct me if that's wrong). Even if I don't count as 'youth' anymore, I'm instantly at a disadvantage because of the language thing.

Looking back, I've been in plenty of situations over these last four years when I thought things would work out one way and they didn't, and I've always bounced back and become stronger from those experiences, so who knows, maybe my furniture and I will find a way to have a long & happy life together in France after all.

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