“I HATE EVERYTHING – nothing is ever just easy,” I am stomping around the house in full tempter-tantrum – Scarlett-style.
MB looks at me silently with no reaction (he has learned to let me just wear myself out…much like one might do with a 3 year old).
He sighs as I continue to slam around being disagreeable. Could I be enjoying this?! NO! Of course not…
“I went to Picard…NOTHING. Then I tried the Petit Casino – you know, the one that always has them and they didn’t have anything either,” I wail.
“Well,” he says tentatively. “Maybe at Carrefour?”
“NO,” I say loudly, for some reason feeling satisfied to crush his possible solution. “I have never seen them there, they don’t carry them at all*!”
MB looks at me, “I could call the stores,” he suggests.
“I guess,” I say, sulkily. “I don’t know what good it will do, even if we find them we will have to take a tram to go and get them.” I’m not ready to be mollified yet. “GAWD! I just wanted to make crawfish etouffee – I bought all the other ingredients and stupidly took for granted that I would be able to find the crawfish at the stores.” I’m ranting again and flailing about with drama. “But NOOOOOOOOOO…I mean, why would a store stock the same merchandise every time? That would be too easy and convenient for the customers and your country HATES easy and convenient!”
MB retreats into the bedroom with the telephone to call the stores and I am left feeling…meeeeeeeeeeeh…a little ashamed of myself. I don’t mean to pull out the “country card” but it is certainly the quickest thing to revert to when I’m feeling frustrated. These are not proud moments
“My, my,” My Mother says into the phone. “You are really living the life, aren’t you?”
I have just finished telling her about our weekend jaunt over to Munich. There was all-you-can-eat schnitzel and fairy castles, what more could a person ask for?
“I sure hope you are appreciating it,” she continues.
I smile and roll my eyes at the same time (this is the reaction to a special mixed emotion that only my Mother can summon forth – it is simultaneous irritation and amusement).
“I know, Mom,” I reply. “I do!”
“Well,” she continues. “I sure hope so…”
I’m waiting for it. I know what is coming next.
Queue ominous and foreboding thunderclap. MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Feeling scared yet?
She goes on, “Your life will not always be like this.”
I sigh into the telephone, unsure of exactly what my response should be. Do I say, “thanks for letting me know” or “I appreciate the warning?” Do I pretend that I am still fourteen years old and say, “GAH MOM, you’re such a downer!” OR do I tell her the truth?
The expat life is great. I am living in Europe for the first time and enjoying traveling around and seeing all the sights, I have an amazing French husband, and I get to write all day long (sometimes this is awesome and sometimes this feels like I have sentenced myself to a lifelong homework assignment). I mean, it’s pretty much a Meg Ryan movie over here without all the neurosis (and bad plastic surgery…why Meg, why?).
…Except when it isn’t.
I regularly think about how much I am enjoying my time here and all the cool experiences I am getting to eat have but sometimes…I hate it. (EEEK! I’ve done it now – I’m just waiting for the black helicopters to start circling.)
Alright, alright, calm down – I don’t hate France, that isn’t it, it’s just that some days I hate being an expat and France gets caught in the crossfire, a convenient thing to blame for a bad day. The only thing that people hear about is that I get to go to Munich or Italy for a weekend – it sounds so romantic and exciting to have all these European countries at one’s fingertips…and it is. What they don’t know about is how when I need to get crawfish for a dish I want to make and can’t find it after spending two hours walking around to different stores that I have to wait for my husband to come home and call every supermarket chain in the city because I can’t just do it myself. I mean, sure, I can speak French but try asking a complicated question over-the-phone with grocery store level customer service (read: no customer service) in a second language…I dare you. Or how if I want to go and see a movie I have to search to try to find one that hasn’t been dubbed or how if I want to run a quick errand it is impossible because I either a) spend ages looking for parking or b) take public transportation as opposed to the glorious, glorious parking lots of my hometown. OR how when I am sad or having a bad day I can’t just pick up the phone and call home because it is probably 3 o’clock in the morning. It can be lonely and it can be alienating, everyday tasks and chores are more complicated and things that are normally really easy aren’t anymore.
Okay, okay so I can hear you rolling your eyes at me and I get it – I’m not this bratty all the time and I know it’s still a pretty sweet deal when you get to travel and learn about a new culture, I realize that my life isn’t hard; but bad days happen everywhere…even in the middle of a romance novel setting. And while there are certainly some pretty sweet perks to being an expat, it isn’t all roses all the time…usually you will love every minute of it but some days you will have disgraceful temper tantrums about groceries and wish the time zones were the same so you could call your best friend (who, by best friend contract has to agree that you are being completely rational) and tell her about it.
So, the old adage rings true: I should listen to my Mother and remember that my life won’t always be like this. Some days that idea makes me sad and other days…well, other days it seems alright with me.
*Carrefour does actually carry crawfish occasionally but it is in very small, expensive packages and not worth the effort. Just wanted to clarify so that people didn’t think I was maligning the glorious Carrefour!!!