Se sentir à l’aise

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Se sentir à l’aise: to feel at home.  It started today, with my hair.  There was a fair of silk and wool, artisans and vendors selling fabrics and clothing during the Saturday market.  I saw a woman with a fantastically colored spiky wrap in her hair, and had to have one for myself.  As soon as I installed this creation in my hair I instantly started to feel more French.

People smiled at me more.  Was it because I looked more French, or because spiky colored wool in one’s hair is an automatic smile generator?  I felt more confident, more correct.  But why?  With the wisdom that comes with two weeks in a country, no doubt later to be dismissed as beginner’s ramblings, here’s how it seems. 

At least down here in the south, far, so far, from the chicness of Paris, looking French is about making an effort.  Normally I put on almost anything, so long as it’s comfortable and suits the climate.  Here, to blend in, I need to “show my work” as our math teachers used to say.  A brightly spiked ponytail says “hey, I know you’re looking so I’m going to give you something to look at.”  Not quite like the young very pregnant woman I saw this afternoon clad in just a halter top and jeans, but sort of.

Then later today, twice in fact, I was swept by that feeling of at-homeness.  Maybe because the streets are a bit quieter now that many of the summer people have gone home.  Maybe because a few leaves are falling and the mistral isn’t blowing.  Maybe because now we’re seeing places we’ve been to before, buying from vendors who recognize us from the last visit.  Maybe because I get into the cold pool every day, knowing how good it will feel once some feeling returns after the initial icy shock.

Tomorrow I may again feel like a stranger, and I’m sure that feeling will come and go often.  But now I have the antidote, my magic hair spikes.  Wearing those, I’m pretty sure that tout est possible.

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6 Comments on “Se sentir à l’aise”

  1. Annie Says:

    My email keeps bouncing when I send to you.
    Thought you might like this post.
    http://valanne.vox.com/library/post/food-blogging.html

  2. Lori in PA Says:

    Abra, I discovered your blog yesterday. My presence at egullet has been much more intermittent lately, but I was so pleased to see you’ve made the jump to la belle france. I’ve read all your words here, and just FEEL the transformation you and your husband are having — exhilarating, painful, disconcerting, exciting — all wrapped up together. Thank you very much for sharing the experience with me.

  3. Abra Says:

    Sorry to all who are having email problems reaching us. We’re working to get it straightened out. And it’s a US-based problem, nothing I can blame on la vie française!

  4. Eden Says:

    The hair spikes must be bilingual – they make me smile in English :->

  5. Della Says:

    Abra, your hair spikes are so fun! It’s great to read about your adventures! It all looks and reads fabulous!

  6. Carolyn Says:

    I could see what wasn’t in the picture of the spiky wrap – your smile in the sunshine. How I envy you in France as I was in the gloom of Seattle today. The early mornings and evenings are cooling and rain is growing more frequent. Leaves are coloring and beginning to fall. But France…. I would stretch out as Beppo and enjoy the sunshine.


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