Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The world in black and white

It arrived silently in the wee hours, magically, like Father Christmas. No doubt he'd be feeling at home here in Cafeolait and Paris. The snow. And there's plenty more on the way. Everything horizontal is white, everything vertical is black. The view from the train is beautiful.

The air burns the inside of my nose and ears but it's slightly warmer just after it has snowed. I can't explain that, the following days seem even colder. It's very dangerous trying to walk outside. Shoes and boots slide. If someone is walking faster than me it's invariably a guy. They must have better shoes or balance. I set off this morning and almost reached the station when my NZ walking shoes gave out. The soles completely detached. So I missed my train and had to turn around and go home for more footwear. It wasn't fun trying to walk in snow and ice without any soles. Ahh, just another verse in a miserable song.

Yes, things have been rather miserable lately. After Bent's bizarre and hurtful behaviour I was further disappointed by my belongings not arriving when promised. I had to take a day off work. They didn't arrive and no one contacted me. I had to do a bit of research to find someone in the UK to handle my enquiry. Apparently the haulage company had not loaded my stuff the night before. Bad timing for me, adding to an already miserable day.

At 8.30 on Saturday my mobile rang to say they were outside the studio with my stuff. Still in my PJs I donned my coat and never went outside the rest of the day. Everything arrived in good condition except a beloved candle vase on a pedestal. It had not been packed in the vertical position-broken. Disappointing and not expensive enough for me to waive the excess and lay a claim. I spent the rest of the day trying to refocus my life away from my short-lived relationship with Gerard. I wrote him an email explaining how I felt and that I was hurt and didn't understand his reaction. He did not reply.

I did receive the following email:"send me quickly all the details of the car : year, model, kilom├ętrage, puissance fiscale, type.May be I can sell it to my partner"..Hmm was it his way to make contact again? Was he still trying to be helpful? After some very brief exchanges he sent:"OK I bring my friend monday evening at 6h30 in your place. He will bring his car and take your one if he likes it. remember to ask 3500 euros for your car.Tell him that you paid that sum of money to get the car OK?...He will repair the tire if he takes the car and he will drive it until you bring him the car registration".

Bent knew I had not paid quite that amount of money. Why would he want his partner to pay more? He also thought he might know of a small car I could buy inexpensively so I would have some money in my pocket- we'd discussed that several days ago.

I discussed this with the ladies over lunch at work. They were alarmed. They had all sorts of scary hypotheses. If I am given cash it's probably counterfeit, maybe they will take the car keys and drive off, maybe they are trying to steal your money,maybe the cars are stolen, maybe they will discuss ripping me off in rapid french so I can't understand their dastardly plan. Shit!!! This sort of thing isn't really an issue in NZ. In fact, cash is considered safer than anything else. I was reminded I am not in NZ.

Bent had not answered my heartfelt letter to him and had not rung me. I decided not to take the risk and sent an email and text to cancel the meeting. I wanted to see him to find out what was going on but he never called me to enquire why I cancelled and he never turned up on my doorstep. How can you believe anything tender guys say even when their eyes suggest they are speaking the truth?

I suspect he had some feelings for me and genuinely hoped I would stick around but it would have been completely on his terms and I'm not about to be controlled as I have been in the past. There would have been further disappointments for me I'm sure. It's a shame the white side of him lost out to the black. Time will heal my heart - again but it showed me that I really do want and need some tenderness and companionship from a nice man. I had a taste of it and it was great. Now there's a big void again. I'm sad.

I'm also sad about the serious financial situation I am in by buying my boss's car. It was rather too expensive for me. To change ownership and buy new plates cost more than 300 euros. On top of that I had to pay more than another 300 euros to replace TWO tyres and pay for parking for the car.It was horrifying. I'm also advised that the condition of the car is such it may be difficult to sell. I had little opportunity to test drive or see the car properly in daylight. I should have insisted.

Normally I would never be in this situation but I'm in it because I cannot manage the language and bureaucracy difficulties alone with buying a car and I was unaware of the cost of changing ownership. Then there was the situation where I had to drive at night and damaged a tyre.On top of that there's insurance. I have no money to eat for the next month - no kidding. I still have to pay train trips to work, personal insurance, contents insurance, car insurance, tax, rent and what is left over would have gone on food, not a car. I also have to pay the NZ Embassy just to stamp some photocopies of documents are genuine-I'm trying to replace my drivers license (there are no justices of th peace here), and I've had to pay to have my birth certificate translated, courrier fees for a replacement VISA since the metro incident. This is way beyond my little salary so I must sell the car somehow to raise funds. Merde!

This dream of mine is not for the faint-hearted. I seem to have crammed a lot of misfortune into a short period. Fingers crossed next year will be gentler. I love France but not this level of struggle.

The ladies at work have been great. One invited me over to her place for dinner Saturday night. She knew I was struggling. I spent a delightful evening watching her serve up a french home-cooked meal, met her husband Frederic and their two lovely children. We had fun, spoke two languages and I had some good advice from her. She and her husband have worked wonders on what was a derelict house and garden. It has been transformed into a classy and comfortable home for a family and friends. I love learning about the lives of 'real' french people.

Camille is helping me to sort out the car- it now has plates and two new tyres and under-cover parking. She will also help me sell it to buy something smaller and cheaper. Do I need a car? YES.

It's very difficult to do grocery shopping without one. I must buy tiny quantities with little choice in a more expensive supermarket, I cannot take up my bellydancing without one, I cannot visit anyone outside of Cafeolait effectively without one, I can't explore the countryside or develop confidence in making an independent life here without being able to drive.

I took all these things for granted in NZ- driving, managing my own affairs. I'm like an adolescent getting into difficulties and needing mum and dad to help me sort things out and learn. I'm dependent and I don't like it but I am so lucky to find such generous people who help when they can. I love France, just not the current situation. I'm making big mistakes because I want to see the positive in things. Prudence-more prudence.

Photos: Ralph Lauren window display in Paris, winter outside my windows.


Alison said...

Mmmm..... Would you consider going without a car for a year or so, until you have become more financially settled? I am feeling for you!

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