It’s complicated.

I’ve now been in France for almost three weeks, and I feel that our relationship is moving on to a new level, one that cannot yet be explained otherwise. Though I’ve lived in France before, this experience is completely different, my concept of living in Frogland begun anew. I had been dreaming about France for weeks before it finally happened, I had fitful nights of anticipation and hopes. And we certainly had our honeymoon period. That, however, is behind us. Now I vacillate between moments of frustration, desperation, anxiety, curiosity, and love.

The mounds of paperwork are just the beginning. Really, France? Are you sure things need to be this circuitous? Can’t you just tell me what you want from me directly? While I love that you are giving me the chance to get my transportation to/from work reimbursed as well as the possibility of financial aid with my lodging, it would certainly be helpful if we could just, one-on-one, sit down and take care of business. I knew going into this relationship that you had bureaucracy issues, and I’m making an effort to understand. All I’m asking is for direct, honest communication, the core to any good relationship, n’est-ce pas?

There’s also

"Toxic" marching band

the attitude. I know a lot of outsiders see you as snobby and rude, which isn’t fair and especially not true for you, the Lillois. But, come on, there’s no need to over-do it and stare at anyone speaking another language as though we were some kind of rare alien that will immediately be attracted to you, using the little English you know to say: “you girls, very sexy.” But then just when I’m fed up with you, walking away, I turn a corner and find you’ve produced a group of musicians (marching-band style) playing a wonderfully nerdy version of Britney Spear’s “Toxic,” the scene enhanced by a three-year old boy clapping delightedly.

Then there are those nights like tonight, walking home, I’m passed by groups of friends on their way to bars, or a couple kissing each on either side of an open window, and I begin to sense the cold, damp feeling of isolation and loneliness. This is only enhanced by the fact that autumn is now upon us, and the leaves falling in the gutters no longer resemble a warm patchwork quilt, but rather the soggy remains of breakfast cereal left, forgotten, to soak up the pool of milk at the bottom of the bowl. But then, just as I reach to button my coat up higher, I see the reflection of the lights from bars and late-night brasseries on the recently drenched cobblestones, and I am content with the relationship I have chosen.

That, anyways, is what I will think of tomorrow morning as I side-step the “crottes de chien” on my way to the social security office.

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