Walking in the valley.
In fact, I started that blog with the conviction that as a foreigner in an alien country I would find tons of topics to talk about. That I would be able to endlessly dissert on the cultural disparities between my referential scheme and the civilisation I was now living in. And it has indeed been for years a great source of inspiration.
But I reckon that nowadays I am less and less surprised by the Brits. It is maybe what people call assimilation: I have blended in, with my British-born son playing the mixologist role by naturally seeding insights on an on-going basis. It feels that I am no longer looking at this society from the outside, or from up there as I say in the above description... I am now in the valley, amongst the passer-by's down here. For god sake, I had to roast some beef on Sunday last week, that sums it all!
But don't get me wrong though, I am still not citizen of her royal majesty and have no intention to become one at this point of time. There are still many of these French/British paradoxes that remain true to who I am. I am still puzzled by some idioms and in turn my French sometimes catch my friends off-guard.
And yet something has changed.
In fact, I watched this week one of my favourite movies, Cedric Klapisch's L'auberge Espagnole (i.e. Pot Luck or Euro Pudding). For anyone who has lived an Erasmus-like experience, the one-year adventures of a French economy graduate student in a Barcelonan multicultural flat-share will resonate.
But Cedric Klappish and I share more than a first name. Many of his lines in his filmography find a positive echo in my own life. I quoted him in my wedding ceremony for instance. And there was a sentence in L'Auberge Espagnole which really encapsulate how I probably feel today. Loosely translated that would sound like:
When you arrive in a city, you see streets in perspective. Lines of meaningless buildings. Everything is unknown, virgin territory. Here we are. And later we will have walked these streets. We will have reached the vanishing point. We will have gotten to know the buildings. We will have lived stories with people. When we will have lived in that city, walked this street ten, twenty, a thousand times... At that point of time the city will be yours, because we will have lived it.L’auberge espagnole, Xavier.