One month in France, week three

 

I am in a city that does not have the stereotypical French glamour. It’s not Paris and it’s not the charming little wine village. Some days I don’t even feel I’m in France if it weren’t for the pastries and the daily wine. So this week three has been less about feelings of travel than it is about trying to do something productive with my time.

I’ve done a lot of writing. Not much painting although I did attempt a small illustration to practice the humble watercolor process. Watercolors are easy to transport but you still need a bit of a setup and since the Airbnb is tiny, I have to clear up everything afterwards, this routine doesn’t help my motivation too much.

Yesterday I had a very overwhelming feeling of sadness because I had nowhere to go except roam through the uninteresting streets that I have roamed fifty times already. I could simply stay in the apartment and hammer away at the computer, but then again. Why come this far to do that?

Hey, you digital nomads

When you post a photo of your laptop beside a mango cocktail, did you really enjoy it or was it over before you even noticed, as you typed the perfect caption for your Instagram photo?

Of course I am happy to be able to travel but sometimes travel is not quite vacation and the thought of not taking advantage of being abroad vs. working is a conflict that I can’t seem to resolve. As a routine sets, the days speed up and suddenly it seems like I was never really here.

Oh, darn. This brain of mine.

Bookstores

So I take a walk and give myself a mission. Go to a bookstore where I’m happiest. There is so much to read and such little suitcase space. I wanted to find the new book by Ina Mihalache / Solange, who I deeply admire for the simple reason that she creates what she’s compelled to create. She is fearless though her Solange character seems the opposite.

I spent a couple of hours browsing books, sighing at every turn. It suddenly dawned on me that I’m reading French as I always dreamed. No barriers. I absorb a different kind of literary beauty after years of reading exclusively in English. The variety of stories and characters amazes me. In the past few years I’ve felt like there is a fuzzy similarity among American and Canadian books. They all seem written by MFA graduates following a formula. They don’t inspire me.

On the other hand literature in Spanish has a different problem. Working at a bookstore specializing in hispanic literature I should know. Every time we get the new releases, four out of five books has a writer as a main character. Really? There are no other possible main characters?

Bookstores are my refuge. My life seems to gravitate around either a bookstore or a library. I recently revisited that classic video on How to be alone. I remember it revolutionized my heart. So as I roam the city of Grenoble while my husband has work to do, I remember this song/poem and I go be alone where I feel most happy.

Perdre la terre

 

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