Somewhere back in my days as an exchange student with AFS (American Field Service), I recall someone giving a presentation on the phases of cultural adaptation. It was roughly broken down into 1) the honeymoon 2) the rejection 3) the recovery.
I have lived & travelled enough in France over the last 30 years, that the basics of the stages don’t necessarily occur as they would for someone tackling a new culture for the first time around. Not to mention, I’m married to a guy from said culture, so I get what it means to be a frog, speak like a frog & act like a frog.
Next Monday will mark the end of our 5th month here & the beginning of month number 6. Yikes, that seems crazy even to me & I’m the one living this wild ride with 4 small passengers. So I must confess, as I head into month #6, that I am feeling a part of phase 2 – the rejection. One website breaks “rejection” down into a bunch of subcategories – one being . . . “You may idealize your life back home, while being highly critical of life in your new community.”
For the sake of staying constructive, I shall not go critical. I shall however, give you 6 “observations” about things I have NOT done in the last 5 months – in no particular order, of course.
1- I have NOT pushed a remote control garage door opener. Instead, I park on the street, in front of my house, then dash through the rain yelling for 4 small humans to follow & then fumble with this very modern looking key to get my home door unlocked.
2- I have NOT had a grocery store clerk bag my groceries. Instead, as the precious queen of food retail SITS on the stool behind her checkstand, I quickly pack everything I have purchased into my stylish reusable shopping bags while making sure my 4 small people don’t stray too far (there may sometimes be yelling involved in that as well).
3- I have NOT had a pedicure. I believe I had one just prior to leaving. At this point it’s kind of like marking notches in a tree to track your time in the wilderness. I look at my big toes, and how much polish is left and can just about guestimate how long we have been here.
4 – I have NOT pushed a button on my keychain to open the back doors to my glorious mini van. Yes, I did infact just call my minivan glorious. Instead, I walk to the driver’s side of my fiat Panda, unlock the only door with a keyhole, and then yell to my 4 offspring to run as fast as they can through the rain and get in the car. OK, there’s yelling involved here, but it’s mostly instructional yelling unless they get distracted by puddles or pile it in the front yard because the mud is slippery. Then it’s scolding yelling.
5 – I have NOT had a bare neck in 5 months. Nope, not once. Instead, I entwine myself in a scarf (cotton scarves, knit scarves, wool scarves, I’m not picky) every morning telling myself that if my neck is warm, then the rest of me will be warm. Let’s repeat that to convince ourselves, “If my neck is warm, then the rest of me will be warm.” One more time . . .
6 – I have NOT peed in a bathroom. Instead, I take care of business in a WC. A water closet. No sink, no tub, no shower, just a crummy little room with nothing but a toilet.
So there you have it. Like I said, I am NOT idealizing my life back home, nor am I being critical of things here. Nope, not at all, I’m just making observations about 6 little things I have not had, nor done, in the past 5 months. Because were I being critical, I probably would have told you that sometimes at night, once I leave the scarf and get into jammies, and then get snuggled into bed, with my space heater roaring next to me, I feel the need to pee. It’s so cold in this house that the thought of leaving the covers and heading for the WC is more than I can handle. The bidet, on the other hand, is right next to my bedroom door. I seriously consider peeing in the bidet, but then I remember that I can’t since I’m using it as a laundry hamper. Oops, guess I forgot to mention that I have NOT used a laundry hamper. Go ahead and make that observation #7 and we can call it a day.