Well it sure is strange to be back in England. With globalisation, people whiz around the world hopping from country to country. There is no longer any delay, no long journey to reach that final destination. It’s quite a shame really.
I say this because my journey home from France has left me feeling displaced. Like a copy of Twilight on a library shelf designated Dickens. Like an apple turnover misplaced in the bread aisle. Like a… a hamburger that finds itself wedged between the filet mignon and venison loin on a Michelin-starred restaurant menu… yeah, you get the gist.
But what really jars is how easily I’ve slipped back into the old routine and how normal it feels. It’s like I was never away at all, as if the past year in Lyon was just a dream (a really good one to be sure, filled with creamy cheese, delicious bread and patisseries). My goldfish-like memory and short attention span are probably partly to blame but nonetheless… I somehow thought that’d I’d come back with a French je ne sais quoi, some kind of French aura.
But no, I feel just the same. Well for now at least.
Having a long journey from A to B gives you time to adjust and mentally prepare. You notice the bistrots, cafés and leafy avenues slowly change into tall, concrete blocks in the suburbs – which in turn vanish and are replaced by rolling green fields and those delightful countryside smells (aka. horse manure). Tuesday afternoon, I woke up to glorious sunshine, got on my plane and promptly dozed off. Two hours later, I awoke to grey skies and drizzly gloom in England. It was only slightly depressing.
I was glad to see my family again though. My mum had made these glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves (zongzi 粽子), something which I love, as a welcome back!.
It feels good to eat rice which sticks together satisfyingly in clumps (in France this is considered a sign of low-quality rice, the supermarket shelves are filled with brands boasting “Non-stick rice! Fast cooking and non-sticking!”). It’s also good to have a fridge full of snackables to raid in moments of boredom and procrastination.
From France, I brought back some dried sausage and cheese. I originally had three types of cheese in my hand luggage – Savaron, Reblochon and Munster – but the last two were confiscated. Too creamy apparently. Potential bomb material… a really stinky French cheese bomb. It would make a good tagline though – “So creamy, it’s not allowed on planes!”
I miss being surrounded by French-ness! the rolling r’s! the throaty accent! (my friend once told me the French sound like they are about to spit all the time) the whiffs of good bread! gooey soft cheese! markets! sunny weather! that summery feeling!
I’ll be back again soon, anyway. So France, just you wait…