When I saw this graphic, I knew I needed to post it because following my explanations of why I hate La Poste, more fuel has been poured on the flames of my wrath. Three very kind people mailed me gifts for my birthday last week. Now, remember how excited you were in college when someone sent you a care package? Well, after living overseas for five years, you realize how precious those little boxes of love really are. And we’re not in college anymore, so it isn’t something that I expect or even think about. You realize that when you make the decision to move overseas, you’re probably not going to be sent as many letters or packages. It’s just one of the tradeoffs. It’s a lot more expensive to mail things abroad, people have to fill out customs forms, it’s more of a hassle. So, when you know that three packages are on their way to you, it causes a raised level of excitement. And then when your birthday passes and none of the packages are delivered, you’ve adjusted enough to the unpredictability of life abroad, to just figure things will arrive the next day. Four days later when there is still no sign and you stop at the post office only to be told that things will probably be delivered next week. And then compound that with the fact that you get a notice that one package has been at your door twice but mysteriously not left with the concierge, and you realize that you’re dealing with a system where all reason is abandoned and chaos reigns the day. I mean, that’s what a concierge is for – she gets reduced (if not free) rent to look after the building, be there to accept packages in the recipients absence, etc. And knowing that you won’t be home next week when some of the packages may actually be delivered and you lose hope. And you feel like having a pity party. Because living abroad is exciting and it’s an adventure and it’s wonderful and sometimes it just plain defeats you. The struggle with unfamiliarity, the challenges of another language, the stupid little annoyances that creep up on you and suddenly feel overwhelming. Things like being unable to use bills at the laundromat and running out of coins. Forcing you out into the rain where you go to an ATM, withdraw some cash, make your way to the nearest pharmacy where you think you’ll just pick up a pack of gum, realize that a pack of gum costs €2.90 and abandon that idea. You go to the stationery store where there is a card you’ve been wanting to buy and pay with a €10 and are given a €5.00 note in return and the cashier refuses to change it for coins. So you go to another store, buy something for €1.00 and finally have your change. Or how you take a bike from the velib station, peddle to your destination only to find that the station is full, so you peddle to another station and find it’s not working, and then to another full station and another. You’re suddenly pretty much back where you started and have wasted 45 minutes and are no closer to your destination than when you started. None of these are the sorts of things to leave one feeling unhinged but when they all happen in a matter of days, it becomes disconcerting and you realize that you are a stranger in a strange land.
Ah France. I love you, but you can sure be infuriating. The timing of our trip to Edinburgh is perfect. I’m ready for a break. Ready to be in a city I know well. Ready to speak English and if anyone asks me to speak French, I will probably start crying. Not really but I probably will refuse to oblige. I’m looking forward to seeing my old friends and going back to my favorite cafés and coffee shops. And I have full faith that when I return to Paris, I will be happy to do so. Sometimes a little break is all we need, right?