Friday 13 December 2019

To have your heart in two places

Vacuuming isn't my most favourite thing to do, but at least it's not my least. I became a bit manic about keeping the floor clean when my children were babies, and mooching around on it, but fortunately I don't have the same daily urges any more. A little bit like my morning lap swimming, passing the aspirator (passer l'aspirateur) actually gives me a long period of time to think, and that's not a bad thing. For some reason, doing the bathrooms doesn't have the same effect.

I have the sneaking suspicion that I'm not the only one to do a self-twist and contort, manipulating the vacuum head with alacrity, in order to avoid at all costs the effort of moving chairs, coffee tables, discarded clothes...anything... out of the way. But, I'm not here to preach or be educated regarding the techniques of said household chore.

Bent over the machine this morning, my stream of consciousness led me around the dust piled up under the chair legs, around the gaffa taped and sagging seats, across the pock marked table top to the springless dunce in the corner and on to France. Of course, it did. Most things do. You see, we bought this table and chairs from an antique (read 'things old and unstable') store years before our departure from Australia. It was a big deal for my husband and me as it was an actual purchase and not just a scrounge off the side of the road during one of the Council clean-up weekends. It served us and our children exceptionally well and if I look carefully at the table, I can probably see where and when. But, its crowning glory is that it has two leaves and seats a large number all together, just like we like it.

We didn't like it much when we returned to Australia from France. Our tenants had used it for major smash and grab affairs - or perhaps, table top dancing. Either, perhaps both, is a possibility. Even the one ebayer who kindly agreed to take it off our hands, baulked when she actually saw it and went away sans table. Mmm, now I was a bit offended, and decided that this un-loved possession needed to be projected right into the family fold and take pride of place at dinner time. Is it comfortable? No. Do our guests wonder? Probably.

In addition to being the champion of the under-table, there may have been another reason for not heading straight to the trash heap towing dining furniture behind me. At the time, I could not buy anything. Any purchase, no matter how big or small, came to represent another physical barrier to our return to France. In my mind, if we bought anything, it was a sign that we were settling in and finding our place in a new place. It was tantamount to doing the unthinkable, conducting a blatant act of betrayal and ... letting France go. Our deck remained furniture-less and our linen, threadbare; our glassware, non-existant except for a growing collection of re-purposed Vegemite jars and our clothes, very fashionable items from the '80s.

All in the vain hope that nothing coming in meant that we could all go back. Back to France, from where my heart was refusing to budge.

Years have passed and not much has changed. I did eventually buy a second-hand couch for the deck, but not with the goal of providing comfortable seating, more with the thought that it would make selling up quicker and easier.

Ahh. The unforeseen consequences of choosing adventure and saying 'no thanks' to living 'normally': passion, awareness, love, joy, friendships, heartache...and the inability to sit for long.

If you would like to read more stories of our French-Australian life, Kindle and print versions of 'But you are in France, Madame' can be found by clicking here.