“Why did you move here?” she flippantly asks. She doesn’t even look me in the eye; the answer is of aucune importance.
I shrug inwardly and riffle through the Rolodex answers I have prepped under a myriad of categories the recipient wants to hear.
“People are jealous of you...” and each of her words sits stagnant in the air, like half-filled helium balloons.
I blink hard and decide not to respond.
I let my mind wander back to the first house I rented long-term in my name, a gite in Beaune near the Park Bouzaize. It was part of a 17th-century convent, overlooking an old clos. I loved the tommettes and antique furniture. Every time I hear a landline ring, I think of that house. And of the millipedes that used to come out of the walls at night and hide in my shoes.
I lived in the kitchen at the end of my stay because I arrived in France with one suitcase. Nothing more or less.
And when we rented our first apartment, it was vide - empty. I created the first part of my life in France in the convent. The living room and spare bedroom became storage as I started to prepare and nest for the flat we had rented permanently. As I waited for moving day, the rooms filled with pots and pans, sheets, a couch, a bed frame, and mattress.
The kitchen was the only space I could work or live in. And there, I discovered the hypnotic sound of a lave-linge top in its final cycles. The gentle on-off hum, the soft sound of the motor as it turned the laundry, the smell of fresh soap and water.
In the evening, a hedgehog that lived near the clos wall would come out at night to say bonsoir. We used to watch the stars together. He was afraid of me - and I was afraid of everything. I moved to a new country alone with no friends, no family, little language skills, and no direct support. I somehow made a life here.
And yet, now,
at the end of the day,
there’s one question I no longer receive:
“Will you move back?”
To view the video reel, please visit my Instagram page here: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cnxhp2sBzsT/
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