A Plot Twist?

If this blog is a story about my year in France, perhaps what’s been missing so far is conflict–a vital ingredient in any tale.  Yesterday, seemed to provide it in abundance.  Yesterday was not a good day.

 I woke up around 5 a.m. from a hideous nightmare (is there any other kind?) which I couldn’t shake. Couldn’t go back to sleep, but I was out of coffee and the fridge was empty. Not an auspicious start. At 8 a.m., I walked up to the shops for eggs and coffee. At the butcher’s, as I was filling the carton, an egg slipped from my fingers and splattered across the floor.  I glanced over at the butcher’s wife behind the counter– usually the soul of friendliness even though my French often leaves her looking confused.

 “Désolé,” I said.  If I’d known how to say in French that I’d clean it up, I would have offered.  Instead I pantomimed.  She shook her head, brushed me aside and cleaned it up herself.  Maybe it wasn’t a good day for her either.  

Not speaking the language is rife with opportunities for embarrassment. I decided I’d had my fill for the day and skipped getting coffee at the epicerie where the grocer also frequently looks a bit confused at my French. On the way back to the apartment, I saw a woman who I often stop and talk to.  She’s English.  I thought she saw me and I waved.  She didn’t wave back, just ducked inside her house.   No possible interpretation in my mood du jour but that she was deliberately avoiding me.

 The day seemed to get worse, one trifling incident after another.  None of them much individually, but collectively oppressive.  By six that evening I was in a deep funk.  Then I heard music and laughter from the next door neighbor’s.  A party.  To which I hadn’t been invited.  

Suddenly everything that had seemed charming and novel and idiosyncratic about France, about the village, took on new and unfriendly overtones.  For the first time since I’ve been here, I felt desperately homesick and alone.  France had run its course.  If there had been a bus out of the village (the last one for the day had already left) I would have taken it.  Where exactly I would have gone, I’m not sure, but that didn’t matter.  I just wanted to be anywhere but Montpeyroux . . . or France, come to that.  

ImageI decided to go for a walk.  I set the timer on my iPhone for one hour and headed out to the vineyards. Someone told me that you can walk through the vineyards all the way to Spain. That wasn’t my intention, although I have no doubt that you could if you wanted to. I walked and walked and walked.  Nothing but vines and more vines.  Occasionally I’d scare a flock of birds out of the vines and they’d ascend in a squawking cloud that probably startled me more than I startled them.

 After an hour, I walked back towards the village.  By the time I reached the apartment, I felt better.  Things improved from there and as I write this I’m feeling fine again.  It’s to be expected I suppose, those days when nothing goes right.  They can happen anywhere, France included.  So perhaps not sufficient conflict for a fictional story, but quite enough for my real life adventure.

Next week, I’m spending five days in Montpellier doing a French immersion course. . .

If I should drop an egg again, I want to know how to offer to clean it up.

By La vie en France

6 comments on “A Plot Twist?

  1. I completely understand. Don’t you wish sometimes that “home” was not so far away? There’s a lovely month-long housesit open in Bray, if you want to be among English-speakers for a while…

  2. Hi Janice,

    Hang in there. Your blog gives many so much joy and laughs too. Deanna and Vin are visiting and such fun to spend time with my best friend and sister too. Wish you could get up some summer as well.

    Sun is shining here and hope it is in France too.

    Sending big hugs,

    PS Try having cereal in the morning!

  3. Marcie–wish you were staying in Ireland longer. The timing is off while you’re there, but I’d love to come for a visit, do a few pub crawls together!

    Betsy, thanks. Glad you’re enjoying the blog. And your visitors. Tell them I said hi and that they’d better get busy on making their reservations to come here! The sun is shining here today too.

  4. We miss you in the Dordogne Janet, keep smiling, I love to read the blog but felt sad I couldn’t share a bottle of wine with you after reading this one. Bisous, Adel and the boys xxxx

  5. Hi Adele, nice to hear from you. I’d wondered how you fared with the recent storms. Wrote to ask Luisa, a friend said there was a lot of damage in the area. Haven’t heard back though. I’m in Montpellier for week taking a French language course. Hi to the boys!

  6. This is an appropriate post for me to find randomly. I have been overcome by a terrible case of SAD, craving carbs and sweets, which I hope isn’t totally blowing all my summer-long efforts to lose weight and correct my cholesterol. I like to label it as SAD because depression is … too depressing. I strive to have a daily walk around my complex and even started a Facebook page where I post a photo each day to help me truly be in the moment and absorbed in my surroundings. Of late, I’ve headed out to my walk with a borderline fierceness, as it is a lifeline to keep the SAD at least at arms length.

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