I'm walking down the street , happy to be travelling again. I am smiling at strangers passing by , it's a perfect day.
''WHAT?????'' says this angry man in a thick french regional accent from the North East of France ( try to mix Swiss and Belgian accent. Yep, that's it. Sexy huh)
'' What are you laughing at me for?'' he says.
Damn. I'm in Vesoul.
I was back in my Hometown. In France. That's where I was travelling to this time.
Easy to forget. When I board a plane I always think I'm going away to some exotic, far away countries.
No. This time it was a 45 minutes Easy Jet flight From Gatwick to Basel.
You know , easy Jet. You're only allowed one hand luggage if you don't want to pay 15 quid to check your bag in. So obviously you stuff everything in a tiny backpack and hide everything else under your jacket while confidently smiling. Coffee was expensive , in 3 different currencies. ( you've got to love Europe)
Yes , I was back home after 1 year of travelling around creating new homes for myself.
France. Where all your problems , worries and defaults have only one source . Sarkozy.
We have no money. Blame Sarkozy
Our job sucks. Sarkozy.
The weather is crap. You know who to blame.
God , who are we going to blame once we finally get rid of him next year......
So I could just have walked away from that guy I was smiling to.
No. I decided to stop and explain that smiles are free ( can you blame the president for that?)
I caught myself having a slight British accent while saying that.
Against all odds the guy smiled back and said thanks.
And probably thought :
'' Fucking Roast beefs ( that how we call the Brits around here) why can't they stay Home'' but anyway , that was a slight victory.
I thought I was in culture shock but I had not been to the town hall yet.
'' What do you want''
I loved her already. Smile Annabelle, your destiny is at stake.
'' I wish to apply for a new passport please''
'' Proof of address, pictures, 80 Euro''
'' Nice to meet you , I'm fine and you?''
No , I did NOT say that. I really wanted my passport.
I don't think she would have bought my ''citizen of the world living everywhere'' philosophy. SO I had to say it :
'' I live with my mum and dad''
And yes, my mum was at the back , waving. It totally made her day. She overplayed it.
The woman looks at me with full on pity
'' I as born in 1979'' I say with a smile. hoping that the crowd of people present that day would not bother to do the maths.
One day , citizen of the world will conquer. I thought. One day , people will realize that Home is where the heart is. It's not a damn building in a country that you think you belong to.
'' 8 days. Bye''
8 days? Great! it's not like I'm leaving back home to England in 7 days.... Right? But that, I did not tell her either. You have better chances to rely on luck than french bureaucracy.
I had better things to do. Enjoy a week of pure delight as a french princess ( I 'm an only child. My 3 favorite words are Dinner is ready. Enough said about that.)
I saw my whole family too. In France Family gatherings usually involve loads of food. and wine. And time eating.
4 hours , 3 bottles of wine later they were all busy chatting about what they would cook for Xmas lunch. Yes I did try to take interest.
Until someone asked me THE question.
'' And you Annabelle, what's your plan for Christmas''
My mum gave me a '' It's to early to talk about that , they're not ready '' threatening look
'' Autralia! I always dreamt of a Hot Xmas ''
Everyone stopped eating to look at me.
'' I think snails would be awesome for your Christmas Dinner'' I say to my aunt trying to change the subject.
No, they don't understand my life. And Yes , I start doubting myself. I might still be in my late teens. And absolutely NOT down to Earth.
There I was , drunk, trying to explain that just like they feel at Home in their House, I feel at Home when I'm travelling. And all of a sudden they got it.
'' We'll buy your book'' they end up telling me between Fromage and dessert.
I felt that I was at home with these people. My family. It felt really good. ( no it was not just because of the wine)
Home is where the heart is.
Second big food marathon : My annual Thanksgiving dinner with my best friends.
There again were conversations I was not used to. Building houses, changing nappies.
Yes Aunty Annabelle is still single and hanging out with a thousand people from different countries in a backpackers hostel in England.
They nicely call me '' L'Hirondelle'' ( the sparrow) because I build a nest everywhere I go although I never stay long.
Home is where the heart is.
And my best friends ARE my home too. So I tried my best to talk about nappies and they answered back telling me about this documentary they ve seen about Bangkok on TV the other day.
'' I'll create your book cover'' says one of them , crazy about new technologies.
It's good to be Home.
'' I've seen you in the paper last Summer. Is it true that you're travelling all by yourself to countries like Thailand and that? I could not take that risk.'' says the bar tender as I order yet another tiny and horribly strong coffee ( I did not miss french coffee by the way)
"I could not buy a bar like you did. Just could not take that risk'' I answer with a smile , hoping for a free coffee. Never happened.
Yes, mate we all take risks.
I still feel a bit of teenager. People tell me that you need A LOT of money if you want to go traveling. Just in case this and that happen. How about health insurance, That's a crazy idea not to think about those details. You need to be a little scared right.
Damn I did not think about that before....
I check my bank balance. It's okay........... It's just the MINUS in front of the number that worries me a bit...... OH MY GOD. Panic. What if I don't have my passport in time , what if I can't afford ..... What if I'm never a professional writer ????
FUCK I'M CRAZY.
Monday morning. I'm leaving in 4 hours. Still no passport. I decide to go and see my friend at the town hall.
'' Maiden name?''
'' Same as my name''
I M A CITIZEN OF THE WORLD!!! I was shaking.
''Yes, it's here''.
That's when I started crying tears of joy. Out loud.
Home is where your heart is. And my passport IS my home too.
I go back Home to Brighton that night and stopped at my favorite backpackers hostel. We were so happy to see each other again that we gathered in a group chatting about our recent traveling experiences
'' Parisians are nicer than in Fucking Quebec'' says our favourite 61 year old Aussie
MI5 shows me pictures of Copenhagen where he was for the week end.
Another one was proud to announce that he worked for 2 whole hours this week .
And we all ended up saying our favorite sentence when it comes to our future
'' I don't know''
Yes, this place is full of sparrows. Like me. It's our home for now. Before we take other unreal risks to go build a nest elsewhere.
Home is where the heart is.
We just need do what it takes to create our Home.
Because It's so worth it.