Sometimes I realize I’m on the other side of the world. You know that split second between the ‘’ I’m late for work’’ et F*** I ran out of petrol”. That split second when you remember how exotic your life is. Outside my bedroom window there is an orange tree. Seriously. How exotic .
The other day I was raving about this exotic bird I see everyday. And I was telling my fitness buddy how cool it was. ‘’ What ? the Ibis? It’s considered as pest here. We all want to shoot them. They’re awful’’. And then it hit me. I was the equivalent of a Japanese tourist taking pictures of pigeons in Paris. Damn. Was I still a tourist?
I was. The only one in this town looking for wine in a supermarket. ‘’ No alcohol here. Bottle shops mate, bottle shops’’ .
The best present I wanted to offer my newly fixed car ‘’Chouchou’’ was a drive on the Pacific Highway. There we were , 110 km/h on the left side of one of the most popular highways in the world , off to the white sandy beaches of Byron Bay. 30 minutes of pure happiness. Of course I wanted to share that with my Aussie friends. ‘’ What? The worst road ever. How much time did I waste , stuck in bloody traffic for hours. Useless.’’ “ But it’s exotic!”‘’Exotic? The Pacific Highway? You must be kidding me’’ . And then they laugh…
Oops I did it again. The Japanese tourist syndrome. ( Yes I did take pictures while driving too )
How can I still be a tourist. I live here! But Yes I was excited to sign up to the local Blockbuster video store. How exotic. And yes I’m the one who took 35 pictures of a local demonstration protest against poisoned water too. And no , THIS is NOT a parking ticket. This is an awesome piece of paper with my name on it that I will keep for ever in a photo album. A 86 dollar souvenir. My second ticket outside my home country. The first one was a speed ticket in South Dakota USA 9 years ago. I still have the paper.
But I’m not a tourist I’m a local. I work at the front counter of one of the most popular cafes in town. Everyone knows me now. I can’t be a tourist. I can’t walk 2 minutes on the street without someone greeting me. Even the guy at the petrol station knows me. And I don’t know him. ‘’ You’re the French girl from New Leaf Café aren’t you? I heard you were a lot better at the front counter than when you were doing the dishes’’. Seriously. Am I on some local Okay magazine front page or what?
Hang on a minute. Who’ s exotic now? ME . Haha. Well it’s not easy being French over here. You have to live up to the locals’ expectations and NOT take it personally. No you are NOT really sexy and attractive. You are just the representation of it. Don’t think it’s real mate.
I had my big French test last Saturday when my dear housemate and friend Pip invited 10 ladies over for her birthday party. I only knew a few of them. I was in the bathroom when I overheard her guests asking where ‘’ the French lady’’ was with obvious excitement in their voice. And then it hit me. THE French Woman Myth : born with make up on , classy, composed, mysterious…. I looked at myself in the mirror. How on Earth am I going to do this. I’m not classy , let alone mysterious ( especially after 4 glasses of wine) . But I’ve got make up and a 8 dollar ‘’French dress’’ bought in a local charity shop a few weeks back. They can’t possibly learn the truth about French women tonight (except the fact that we DO shave our armpits) What is exotic must remain exotic. A couple of drinks later I was telling them that Paris was actually polluted and full of stupid Parisians driving like mentals. But they still thought I was exotic and could not stop listening to me trying to describe what snow actually was. Most of them have never seen it. Then they were telling me about their Christmas on the beach, their trips to the Outback. So many exotic things to look forward to….
And we laughed. Because in the end, we are all the same. We’ve got the same dreams and hopes, fears and doubts. And we all want to keep this little exotic spark in our lives , the one that keeps us going. Whether it’s real or not. Who cares in the end. As long as we’re happy.