We had a three-day weekend last week (the second of many this month), but two of those days were spent at the in-laws’. Not working but being present as otherwise Juliette and I wouldn’t see Remi at all this month of May. Spring is the “saison noire”, or black season, for us as Remi’s business is all-consuming. But I stood my ground to stay home Saturday for a bit of housecleaning (what fun!) and to go and visit my Latvian friend.
There are a series of coincidences that connect this girl and me together. We were born just a few days apart (albeit on different continents). We met in 2002 while both doing our training programs in France. I stayed on because of Remi. She went back to Latvia. But then she met a Frenchman who was in her country on business and voilà, she’s back in France living about an hour away from me.
So armed with her basic directions and my GPS, I strapped baby into her car seat and off we went under a hazy blue sky. At first I tried to follow my friend’s directions but the GPS kept telling me otherwise. Finally doubt overcame me and I caved into the GPS’s commands. And as baby nodded off to sleep I drove through little villages with white-stone houses, places that would be perfectly lovely if not so far from jobs and shops. I maneuvered winding roads lined by those brilliant yellow-green oilseed rape plants and cows grazing on steep farmland. That new Franz Ferdinand song was cackling on the radio (Murphy’s Law: when a good song finally comes on, the station is too faint). I was enjoying my little adventure and realizing a solo ride in the French countryside would have been unthinkable three years ago (sans French driving license).
After about 50 minutes of non-stop driving, I arrived at my friend’s house. She made us lunch and we caught up with each other while half-watching a make-over show on TV. Anyway, she’s about in the same situation as me, unstable job-wise and far from her family and old friends. It all started making me wonder (again) if I’ll ever consider France as a home in the cozy, warm sense of the word. Dealing with limited job prospects and homesickness is really getting to me. If I don’t stop frowning my face is gonna stick this way (your parents weren’t making that up).
I think I’m at a turning point where I could become the unhappy foreigner or I could try and make the best of things. But how? I’ve vowed so many times to turn things around that I should be dizzy by now.
But back to the title of this post. Reaching out to others in the same situation could help a bit. Maybe some kind of virtual or real Expat Wives’ and Girlfriends’ Club. I came across this website once, perhaps it’s a start. They even talk about expat writing. The truth of the matter is, living in a foreign country is not always the daydream it might have seemed during high school French class (or in my case, German). But maybe with a little help from my friends, I can carve out my own little world.