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home again jiggety jig

Those of you who’ve followed my journey will know what this moment means: it’s a warm, sunny afternoon, last day of August 2009, and I am sitting on my deck looking at the overgrown garden. There’s much weeding to be done; the buddleia are falling over, the rose of Sharon has taken over the mid part, the end is a disaster and the wasp infestation has never been worse. It’s glorious, and it’s all mine.

Well, mine and the Royal Bank of Canada’s.

I had a wonderful visit with my mother over the weekend, many stories, much laughter, time not only with her, just before her 86th birthday, but with her sister Do who’ll be 90 next year, and my brother, his wife and their energetic two-year old Jake, who was almost too big already for the size 36 month clothes I brought him from France. Family – the people who, when you have to go to there, they have to take you in, as some poet famously said. Even though my mum drives me crazy at some points, and I her, we adore each other. The best was going over, again, the pictures from Potterspury, where she and Do were born, and revisiting my day there. “Look, that’s where Carry Cousins lived!” they cried, looking at shots of a village they haven’t seen for more than 50 decades.
Home yesterday, woozy with emotional exhaustion and jet lag (still waking at 5.30 a.m.), to stay at my daughter’s once again; she made a steak dinner and then we went out for a beer at her local dive. I had to laugh – the least French place imaginable, baseball and football playing on the giant screen and hockey memorabilia on the walls, giant plates of nachos going by and huge pitches of cold beer. It was casual and friendly, but my French friends would have been bewildered.
This morning, my friend Lynn took me to Fiesta Farms, our favourite grocery store, to stock up before my move back. How I appreciated that my first food shop was at this place, which has the best fresh local produce, bread and cheese. And then, in the early afternoon, back to the house, just vacated by the family who’d rented it. My key in my own front door – and inside. My house. My home. Where my children grew up.
The family had left it spotless, with a bottle of white and another of sparkling wine, some cheese and milk in the fridge. They’d left a small suitcase behind and I’ve since discovered more things around, so a family member of theirs will come by and pick up what they’ve left. But my house is in great shape. How lucky that we found each other – they loved their time in the house and were perfect tenants.
My French next-door-neighbour has just come by for a quick hello hug.
So now – to begin. I’ve already chased a raccoon from the second-floor deck where they like to sleep. Now to launch the work on the basement, unpack the stuff from the trip, and then begin the arduous process of unearthing all the stuff I crammed into corners and cupboards before leaving, and to try to get rid of a great deal of it. The list of things-to-do grows. Though the weekend was wet and really cold, the sun is hot today. There’s a bottle of rosé in the fridge for tonight and I’m determined to throw together a real meal, not just something easy. Because, for the next while at least, France and French ways still command my soul.
I am home. I’ll unpack that loathesome giant heavy suitcase and throw it away. (Actually, it’ll probably be useful to store summer clothes.) There’s limitless internet access and I can come and go as I please. I understand the language and am surrounded by familiar people who know me. Everything is familiar.
I am different.



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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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