Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The French Lady Inside

If nothing else right now, one skill I am getting better at is asking for things I want and getting them. in French, mainly. Today, for example, I got what I wanted twice, and it was astonishing. Not so much that I got them, but just the way that I asked for them.

I am in St Malo and feeling bold and today I rang a lovely ex-race car driver in his home in Aix-les-Bains and set up a meeting between he and a car enthusiast family friend who will be driving an old car across Europe in August. I just rang the guy, from the phone book. You should have heard the politeness - I could hardly believe what was coming from my own mouth. Excusez moi de vous déranger monsieur, mais je suis sur une mission un peu particulière... and I went on and on and I was so measured and clear - it was like another person had stepped into my body. I liked her so much more than me. She used all sorts of good confident words and articulate phrasings, not only because she didn't have much more vocabulary than that, but because she didn't have the faculty to express the sheer wavering, unsure, terrified, lost, insecure, shivering, pathetic little wreck she had become of late. The gentleman warmed to this other character - she was charming, well-educated and enthusiastic without being an idiot in any way. There was no way of communicating the true her through this language she had formed through years of study and gradual assimilation, so here she was: Mademoiselle Megapolie. And even then, she wasn't so polite as to be annoying. She was just right.

Later, satisfied, I went and bought a big yellow skirt and sat in it at the café above the beach and put my feet up on the chair and felt slightly Bardot on the Riviera basking in the sunlight with my book and café crème. It didn't matter that it was way too late in the day to order a crème - the way I asked for it was so assured, no waitress could resist. And I took off my top because it was right and was reading my book when I realised how badly I needed a cigarette. There, to my right, was a young man sitting looking out to sea, smoking. And keeping the sure French lady inside of me I bounced over to him and said like chocolate Excusez-moi d'interrompre votre moment sublime... Would I ever really say that in my true life? Interrupt your sublime moment? Seriously?

I should. I want to try. But it's way easier to be the person you want to be in a different world in a different language. Being the one you really are is sometimes a real battle. 


Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Sum of My Life Thus Far

The great thing about aging is that you can be unpacking boxes in your office and discover a picture like the one above and have a belly laugh like you've never had before. You're having one right now as you type this. The reason why you can have such a deep, painful, tear-invoking laugh, is because though you may be her, you are now so far from her, it's like she's a different person. You can like her. You like her so much, it hurts, like a 24 year-old you've just met - she's sweet, but so young she barely exists. Look at her. Look at her hair! She is trying so hard. She is so full of hope. She is thinking 'Maybe if I accept the job to be on the front of the Yellow Pages it will help my acting career because people will sort of know me, without knowing exactly how they know me. Instead of being just another fresh awkward face in auditions, they'll usher me straight through - yes, yes, we know her, we know her. People won't really pay attention to it or anything. It could be a good career move.' And she will do the shoot and they will put a ring on her so she looks sort of serious/married-like and she will borrow a shirt from a friend because she doesn't own one. Look at her - trying and hoping so hard. Look at her in the rainy phone booth in Tasmania, being graffed like fury as some guy orders drugs, before her boyfriend uses the phone and carefully tears her off, bringing her back to Melbourne, for a different kind of laughter, one with a more strained edge. Am I a dick? 

Yes you are, child. You are. You are the village idiot, and it's fine. Don't worry - one day you will look back and think it's ok that you're such a dick and that you made such a choice. You may even like that you did such a thing such as put your face on the cover of the Yellow Pages. You may think - God, that's so me, and maybe for once that will be ok. 

And you will always, always, appreciate that the doodler put a scar on your hand and did the chains and the ill-constructed hairy dick coming out your head. Imagine how many doodlers out there you inspired. How many people stabbed your eyes out or gave you a pig nose or blacked out teeth or crossed eyes. So much joy for so many people - you of all people can appreciate that, you still wet your pants over a good shit doodle.

And if you were to die tomorrow, no need for a eulogy, just hold this up. Yes, it is the sum of your life thus far, and that is ok. Perhaps there will be another photo between now and then to replace this one, but for now, this is it, and that is fine. Enjoy it. Blu-tak her to the wall of the office and when in doubt, turn and refer to her - ask - she will always answer.