Whenever I return I feel emotion well in my throat when the first Customs agent says, “Welcome home.”
Difficult leaving Joce behind, knowing it will be a while till we see each other again. Hard to leave my French life. The novelty, lack of responsibility. Life without demands. Being with my French sister. That was my expectation and that was all that was expected of me. Merely to be in the country of my heart. I relished each moment.
I wasn’t homesick.
Homesickness sets in my gut even on an overnight. First time I remember feeling it was at Girl Scout camp. 6th grade. Never went again.
I love being with my sweetie. My son. My cat. My stuff. The land around my house. When I pull into my driveway after a day of work or errands I feel like I’m arriving at a luxurious retreat. Don’t like leaving my corner of the world.
Don’t sleep well when away. Can’t go to the bathroom either, if you know whaddimean. As excited as I was about my nearly month long excursion to France, I worried I’d wreck my own trip with homesickness.
I did miss my peeps. It would have been a wonderful trip with my sweetie. We’d be in it together now, remembering this and that. But it would have been a different trip. I’m still surprised at my lack of homesickness. Sweetie and I talked twice daily. My night, then his. Thank you, Skype, you sure helped.
There was also my secret homesick-defying weapon. The junction of Provence and Route 66. Joce’s bathroom.
Photos of Monument Valley, Arches, San Francisco (and San Francisco and…), expired and novelty vehicle license plates from the southwest covering every wall. Oh my. La toilette. Not everyone makes a trip home in the W.C.
Joce has a solitary streak and so do I. I thought she’d be happy to reclaim her life, kick out her roommate, settle into quiet and pajamas, use her bathroom without waiting for me to exit.
Then I remember we stayed quiet together, side-by-side, ignoring each other’s old pjs and habits, switching between French and English television news, nightly soup for dinner, clinking glasses of French water. Matching quirks.
Now she doesn’t queue for the W.C. or coordinate bath time. Wonder if I had enough to eat or am bored. She probably smokes indoors again, too. I imagine she likes that. Zee leetle French habit.
Even so, she misses me. Her house is emptier than she likes. As I daydream about my next excursion to la belle France, she’s the sole inhabitant of the junction losing herself in the photos she lovingly posted there to remind her of the freedom and wildness of the west she longs to wander, lost in her thoughts and her adopted home.
I’m wriggling back into my life. Happy knowing my sweetie will be the first person I see in the morning, the last at night. Glad to have snagged a delicious just back hug from Boy. Delighted to hear kitty purring when he thought for certain the predators had taken me away. Surprised at the changed landscape a month away has brought to my canyon. And don’t get me started on the joy of my American shower.
But I miss the junction of Provence and Route 66. And I really miss Joce. The kind of missing one can only feel if lucky enough to have a sister and a home away from home.
Ma soeur Française, Joce