Thursday, November 13, 2008

Half 'n' half

Home ;

1. A dwelling place together with the family or social unit that occupies it; a household.

2. a. An environment offering security and happiness.
b. A valued place regarded as a refuge or place of origin.

I'm not really very sure where 'home' is yet. I went 'home' to Scotland last week, yet when I came back to France, I was going 'home' too. Can you have two homes, I wonder? Is it possible to feel equally happy and at ease and all the other lovely feelings that come with being at home, in two completely different places?

I remember when I first came to France I was slapped across the face with a big, wet, culture-shock fish. I really questioned whether or not I had made the right decision in moving to this country, wondered if I would ever belong here. Despite trying hard, I just couldn't see myself ever understanding the French culture, or fitting in with the fashion, or knowing the language well enough to get by in day to day life. I couldn't string my sentences together and when I could I wondered what it was that was so funny about what I'd said. I really truly wondered how long I could stick it out for.

But with every week that passed by - without even realising it - I became more and more French...Well, okay let's not go that far, but I certainly found myself relaxing and becoming more comfortable with who I am in France. I found myself almost fitting in and began to find my French personality. I began to feel more at home here.

Last week, when I went back to Scotland, I had it in my head that everything was going to be so easy - a total breeze. I tried hard to remember a time when I didn't have to think so hard just to ask someone for directions, or being able to jump in a taxi and not be taken for a tourist and charged unreasonable prices. After six months of feeling like a mis-matched, over-colourful, futuristic fashion victim in France, I thought I would fit right back in when it came to fashion in my home town.

I was proved wrong and the world stopped spinning on it's axis when I sat down with my parents to watch Coronation Street last week. I mean hang on a cotton picking minute there! I went away for a few months and come back to discover that Liam's been murdered and Rosie Webster had been kidnapped by John the sexy but now obviously insane school teacher! And Fizz has lost a whoooole lot of weight! Suddenly the muscle in my eye began to twitch and I felt uncomfortably bemused. I've missed so much, it occurred to me, I have no idea what's been happening!

The next five days saw me discovering that Jade Goody has cancer, several of my childhood friends are pregnant, that I have no clue who was in Big Brother last summer or who won Britain's Got Talent or that Fern Britton had lost so much weight (and that it was all down to a gastric band - shock, horror!). I found out that our milk doesn't get delivered to the doorstep anymore and unamed from up the road had an affair with unamed #2 from the next village.

And even worse, dear readers! I went into Glasgow to spend the money I had purposefully saved up in order to go on a mad spree in my favourite high street shops only to come home with a heavy purse that jingled and a heart heavy with disappointment. Would you believe it? That has never happened to me before! For it seems I am not fashionable in Scotland any longer. I didn't like anything that I saw in the shops (what's up with the saggy-bummed shorts over tights, British girls?). I feel as though I am some kind of Alice in my own topsy turvy wonderland where instead of wanting to buy the shop out, I find nothing whatsoever, not even a pair of socks. Have I already crossed over to the other side? Do I seriously prefer the fashion this side of the channel?

Am I...becoming French?!

Stop! No! I really amn't anywhere close to becoming French and I don't want to lose my Scottish identity. I don't exactly fit in here; not in fashion, not in personality, not in celebrity gossip or soap-watching. But the fact is, I don't fit in that way in Scotland either. Not anymore.

Have I made the transition to being half 'n' half? Am I Scench? Frottish?


I struggled towards FP, my suitcase stuffed with cheddar cheese and my supply of winter coats taken from home. He was leaning against the wall, the yellow Arrivals sign like a beacon above his head. When he saw me he shook his head and laughed, spotting the two bags full of duty free perfume and whisky I was carrying and took my luggage from me, before giving me a lingering welcome home kiss.

The truth is, apart from missing my friends and family (and hairdresser) a lot, coming back to France filled me only with happiness. Reunited with my man, he took me home to our apartment where I was greeted by our cat who for once didn't hold my absence against me and followed me around the apartment, purring. We spent the evening on the sofa watching DVDs and holding hands and chatting intermittently, feeling at ease, relaxed, chilled out, at home.


pierre l said...

France is definitely home. Scotland is the place where you have relatives.
After all, France is where FP is found, and the day to day things you live with. I am sure you could find some French soaps to follow if you were desperate. There is plenty of celebrity excitement in France as well; I didn't realise until last week that Ms Royal was no longer with her partner of many years.
On the other hand, catching up with your family and girlfriends is nice too, so let's call Scotland a second home.

Loth said...

I'm suggesting Econcaise. Sounds less rude than Frottish!

Teuchter said...

Frottish does sound rather rude :)

I quite like the idea of being Pariwegian.

Anonymous said...

I always hate the feeling when I'm in my welsh home. I love it and yet, I don't understand the life anymore. What you know, who you know, makes you who you are. Being away for so long means I can no longer chat about stuff with my friends o family as I have no idea what's going on in UK life, in their lives. I hate that. This said, I hate the feeling I have when I return to my picardie home. Emptiness. Nothing I love about my UK home is there. no friends or family.

Of course france is home, but it's just not how I would like home to feel like.

Kim said...

I am interested in how I will find going to my real home (New Zealand) this christmas... I know it will definitely feel a lot more normal for me to have a summer xmas rather than the cold one I had in London last year... but will things have changed that much in 20 months?? I know I am behind in the music scene, definitely in local tv, current affairs (actually british boy told me about the death of my helicopter pilot in NZ due to him working in aviation industry)... I'm anxious to see what its going to be like. I know when I was in Peru I was looking forward to going "home", this home was France... my apartment, my things, my friends, my life. For me perhaps home is where you make it? And maybe princess its the same for you, France is your home, it is where your life is (for now).. Scotland is as others have said where your family/friends are and I guess we are all drawn to our home countries as that is where we spent our childhoods and where life seems/seemed "normal" compared to other countries we visit. But we are all adjusting and things in France are becoming less abnormal as time goes by.

T.D. Newton said...

It sounds like you're kind of hung up on this... maybe you should talk to somebody (lol)

As to my own thoughts, there's an old expression that says "Home is where the heart is." That can be interpreted one of two ways - my preference is to treat it like home is where your heart perceives it to be. Like now, Colorado is definitely home to me. When I go back to visit my parents in Utah, even though I lived there for nigh on 10 years of my "adult" life, it no longer hold the familiarity of my day-to-day routine. It's not "home" anymore because I don't "feel" that same sense of "I live here." Thank God, since Utah is a big rotting cesspool, but in all seriousness it is a pretty big adjustment if you're still new to this "moving away from home" thing.

That's a lot of quotation marks.

Anyway, my point is "home" is where you should feel "at home." If you suddenly feel out-of-place in Scotland it doesn't mean you don't belong there - it just means you don't live there anymore. Home is where you keep your pillow and your teddy bear (and your heart).

T.D. Newton said...

Oh, and I should add that I thought this post was somehow going to be about coffee additives. I was disappointed for a second.

Princesse Ecossaise said...

My God you are all so wise! Such words of wisdom in these comments!

Pierre I do feel that wherever FP is I will always feel more at home, so I do get what you mean. Although as far as the French soaps go...I have never found a good one, not ever! They are just too 'Days of our lives' for my liking!

Loth Haha I love the sound of Frottish! What a crackin' word! Although I probably like it because it sounds rude...

Teuchter Now Pariwegian is interesting! I like!

Emmy I soooo understand where you're coming from. It's exactly like you say; you can't chat with your family and friends about the local or celeb gossip because you have to ask them to tell you what's been going on first. It's a strange thing.

Kim you haven't been back to NZ since you moved to France yet? AH that will be strange for you! But hopefully in a nice way! I left for only six months and came back to find one best friend getting married and the other one pregnant! But you make a super intelligent point on this subject; that home is where we make it. Where your day to day life happens, where your things are, where you kick back on a Friday evening with a glass of wine in front of the telly.

Monsieur TD, don't you know that I use my blog as therapy? It saves on money! :-p

LOL about Utah being a big rotting cesspool, man you gotte get your parents outa there if thats true!

You finish on a very nice point that "home is where you keep your pillow and your teddy bear (and your heart)". I SO agree. After mulling this whole thing over for the past day I have realised that just because I feel more at home now in France doesn't mean that I am losing my Scottish identity.

Anyway, sorry if I made anyone else think this was a post about coffee additives. That was false advertising and I apologise profusely.

T.D. Newton said...

Whoa, it's YOUR blog, you shouldn't have to apologize for our plebe assumptions!

While I do see that you are getting catharsis from your blog, I'm not sure the myriad unqualified internet droves, friendly and fascinating though they may be, should be your main or only confidants. Umm, yeah, don't mind me, I'm just doing word practice.

I <3 COFFEE!!!

Chouitie said...

So many of the things you say ring true for me too (particularly cheddar cheese cravings!). I went back to the UK this weekend too and found lots of things exactly as they were when I left but somehow different. I thought I'd be really happy to be back and would be questioning whether I'd made a mistake leaving but I didn't feel that way, which was weird. And when I arrived back in Paris, I felt strangely at home there too. In the end I think home will be wherever Hubby is really. The country we're in doesn't really matter anymore since I don't quite fit in anywhere. I feel kind of comfortable (bu also a bit different) here and could be fine in the UK too, if we went back....

ashley said...

I just wrote a long comment that got lost!

What I wanted to say, is that I think that this is the constant struggle of an expat. It is never easy having friends and family far. I guess it makes our relationships stronger, and I know that I no longer take one minute for granted when I am home in the US.

I think of myself as having two homes, and I know that my past and my home country are part of who I am. Some days I am more "French" and other days I am more Americain. I find the hardest part of being an expat is being myself in both languages! I feel like I have a French Ashley and an American Ashley. I am not sure if that makes any sense, but that is the way I think of it!

Zhu said...

Having a "la maison pas" crisis? Happens to me once in a while. In these moment, I 1) eat chocolate 2) declare myself a citizen of the world 3) eat chocolate.

Worse case scenario, you're Scench. Or Frentish*. Anyway.

*That is of course an attempt to mix Scottish and French.

Gordon Scott said...

I've always wondered what being half Scottish and half something else would be. You know, how they say Anglo-French. Is it Scoto-French? Caledonian-French? Or just Scottish-French? Anyway, hope you're keeping a bit better, I'm afraid I haven't been keeping up to date, must rectify that. Gordon

Princesse Ecossaise said...

TD I heart the word plebe!!

I don't like coffee that much. I have to be in a really particular mood to want it, either hungry and on a diet, or stressed out. SO it's probably not a good sign when I take coffee. Also, did you know that it loosens the bowels? That's a scientific fact!

Chouitie I soooooo know what you mean! I really had prepared myself to feel really homesick when I came back to France but I mostly felt happier and more at ease. It's a strange old feeling isn't it?

Ashley Yes! There is a Scottish me and a French me too! I think you've got a rather good outlook on it, that you have two homes and that some days you are more French and other days you are more American. That makes a lot of sense to me.

Zhu Ah it's not exactly a crisis, just a strange little feeling that came over me. Would try the chocolate cure but there is none in the apartment boohoo!

Gordon Hi there! It's been a while, it's nice to hear from you again :-) I think the answer to your question is either Franco-Scottish or Franco-Ecossais(e). I think.

T.D. Newton said...

Yes, actually, I did know that. Some refer to it as "The Colombian Laxative."

I love coffee. Caff or Decaf, blended, black, or "regular." I'll stop now because this sounds like the beginning of a poem, nay an homage, to coffee, and it's too early in the morning for that.