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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

February 1, 2012 by · No comments

AnnMarie Rudin


Lille, 31-janvier. 12

I wonder who recognizes me here. Who sees me regularly and thinks, she is off again. My outerwear is limited, and due to the weather, I wear more or less the same each time I venture into the city. I have a gray mantle, which matches the buildings and the rain perfectly.

But I wear red gloves, a gray hat with a matching red flower attached, and I carry a comically oversized handbag, which is also deep red. I feel as though the red makes me stand out. I take different routes when I go to different places.

I wonder if there is somebody whom I have passed, who has passed me, multiple times. It’s happened before in the smallest of towns: A man in his storefront began to greet me, smile and wave at me, because he recognized me. And I must ask myself if there is somebody here who tracks my comings and goings.

I spent the morning with a girlfriend named Rafaëla. She is such a dear. The time that she sets aside to talk with me is appreciated. We are limited to French, so our conversations are sometimes slow, but we arrive at understandings without any embarrassing mishaps. I hope to meet up again with her this Thursday in order to visit her statistics course.

While passing the time with Rafaëla, I missed a text message that prompted a buzz in my pocket. When I came back to my room, I noticed that it was the Artist. He wanted to know when I was coming to visit him. I responded that I would book a flight and send him the details later today.

His texts, decorated with terms of endearment and smiley faces, hit me like a bullet when I receive them. He offered to pick me up at the airport. Generous as it is, it is an aspect to the weekend that I had not anticipated. I must stop expecting things. The surprise is much more intellectually satisfying for me.

Nobody showed up to my class today. I waited. And waited. I knocked. Finally, I left and prepared the evening with JoAnn. I spent the evening with her again, which was very enjoyable. I went to the supermarket (which prompted my thoughts of being recognized), and I picked up food for our movie night.

I met her, and we came back chez moi to eat and socialize and watch Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis. I offered baguette with preserves, butter, Nutella. Brie and sausage. Cashews and olives. Leffe Ruby. For dessert, we munched on strawberries. It was a very fulfilling dinner in my opinion. Modest.

This movie, Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis, I had seen before. I watched it at school, and at the time, I thought that it was a cute, funny movie. But upon second viewing of it, the movie held all sorts of different meanings for me. I had failed to recognize that the region of France being mocked in the movie is Pas-de-Calais, which is exactly where I am.

Truthfully, I have noticed restaurants in the area advertising Ch’ti cuisine, and I was reminded of the movie, but I paid little attention. I know very little about the culture or the language. But suddenly, the movie was familiar. It was mocking a part of the country that I am able to call home.

I heard the characters talk of Lille and I heard them mention Rue nationale, which is just one street away from where I reside. The group in the movie went out to eat in Vieux-Lille. I stood up to examine the map of the region I have posted on my wall. I located where I live, and I located Vieux-Lille. It’s within walking distance.

I promised myself to find that restaurant. Another character arrived in the train station, which I also recognized. Little did I know when I first saw this movie how meaningful it would become. How I would be able to watch the movie and think, I’ve been there. I recognize that. That’s my home.

I did buy a ticket to Ei–. What an interesting weekend it will be. Dear friends, a location from my (recent past), the Artist.

Before finding sleep, I slide under the covers with Balzac, who reveals truths of life in universally comprehensible terms of love and ambition and indignation and marriage. Je l’aime.

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