Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Little things that stir

It's been a week of little things, positive and negative, that have caused me to examine my feelings and responses to France and New Zealand.

New Zealand was my country. I'm still a Kiwi but I'm becoming more integrated into French systems and French life. I'm not feeling especially homesick for NZ but I often feel alone and cut off from the type of life I lived there. I have very few items that link me to it. I had to give them up even though I didn't want to, for practical reasons. Sure, they were just things but they represented my experiences, feelings, shared during events, connections to people, and those memories are still in me but fade. That fading disturbs me at times. What also disturbs me is how small things can kick off remarkably strong emotions towards the past. This was strongly illustrated by the arrival of my Christmas present from my daughter.

Yes, it was very late and I've dealt with the disappointment of not getting it sooner. I was excited to get it and I knew there was something inside that had once been mine, something I had enjoyed for a very long time, something that reminded me of the life I'd  had when my daughter and I were together.

As I rummaged through the polystyrene bits I was horrified to discover the treasured old object was smashed to smithereens. An old essential oil vaporiser I'd used to perfume my home. No big deal but it would have been a wee touch of home and a reminder of who I had been, a wee something from NZ in my apartment here in France. I was gutted. And surprised at how strongly I felt, how sensitive.

I don't want to live in my old house in Auckland again. I look at photos of it and I remember I felt ready to leave it and my beloved garden too, but I miss that sort of Kiwi lifestyle; a house, pets, a garden, birds singing in the trees. I don't feel the need to go back to New Zealand right now otherwise what was all this sacrifice for to change my life for the (theoretical) better? France is great but why do I have moments of intense sadness when I think of some of my old belongings? A lot of them are linked to life with Laura and I don't have that any more. I don't need to be living with my daughter but the  separation was extreme, there wasn't any choice. Clearly I still have some adjusting to do.

I had two rare opportunities to discuss New Zealand and its culture, shared experiences in the past week. I met Valerie for lunch in Rosieres. Valerie is French but lived in NZ for at least 18 years. She speaks Kiwi, she understands the culture, places, people, idiosyncrasies of life in New Zealand and how different they are to France. France has serious problems, we both agree on those. As a country it's much bigger but it isn't necessarily better in some areas. It was great to speak French and English with someone who understands the differences and likes both countries, as I do. It also reminded me how difficult it is for me to even visit NZ now.

My second opportunity was having lunch with a local government politician from Auckland city. Linda and I had worked together from time to time at Waitakere City Council and we are still interested in eco and environmental issues for residents. It was a pleasure to meet her as she visited Paris and swap stories almost as if time had stood still. Unfortunately, I am well aware time has not stood still for some hapless Auckland residents and quite a few of my ex-colleagues. I'm still horrified at the conditions many Christchurch residents are still living in two years after the two earthquakes.An avid reader of The NZ Herald online and TV3 online  I'm up to date with issues facing New Zealanders. All these changes, my own and my old country's remind me of the speed of change in so many people's lives.

Another positive event of the past week was Jean-Claude confirming to me that at last all my problems with substandard furniture and service have finally come to an end. All outstanding problems have now been rectified thanks to his liaison with the management of the furniture store where I bought my apartment furniture back in June 2012.

If the furniture had been manufactured in France a lot of the problems would never have arisen but these days it seems most of us can only buy substandard products from Romania or China and hire substandard men to try to put things together. These ways of doing business are not sustainable but I wonder how long it's going to take the world systems to change things for the better. I'm not holding my breath.


guilty.by.association said...

Love your photo mum! Room looks lovely

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