Monday, September 20, 2004

the drizzle's kiss

I am a bit confused today. Only a few months ago, I was posting about how I couldn't link my identity to the idea of 'England' since it feels so tribal. And yet today I am trying to decide how to describe to you all about my sudden identification with my home culture.

Maybe I am just becoming more tolerant as I get older, more accepting of imperfections. I sit here aware that neither France nor England are perfect. Both countries are riddled with proud absurdities, unpleasant snobberies and classisms, exploitations and manipulations, self-deceits and pervasive psychoses, historical prejudices and cultural blindnesses.

Yet while I am still discovering and resisting the imperfections of the French, the imperfections of Britain and the British are something that I already know intimately. The very things that were once driving me to leave are now drawing me back.

The things that got repetitive and boring I now see in a light of easy simplicity. The illogic of how some things are done is now warmly familiar, our own happy absurdity. English culture is so deeply ingrained into me that being back reminds me that ultimately it is with the English that I share most of my subconcious, for better or for worse.

And then there's the country itself, or rather the countryside.

Driving over the South Downs at the weekend, the sense of belonging was intense. I have travelled far and wide, taking in landscape from Asia to America. And yet there is still no place in the world that even comes close to instilling this sense in me.

Maybe you look at this scene and just see some hills. But these wavy contours and contrasting colours evoke far more in me than a few neural firings.

In that image there are the memories of the wind's tickle and the drizzle's kiss. There are the days when I wandered alone and troubled, far above the lights of the town. And there are the days when we strolled side by side, kicking the flinty chalk, as open to ourselves as the landscape was to our eyes.

There's no doubt that I will be staying in France for some time to come, but I sense that there may one day be an end to this sejour. Luckily I have some more trips to the UK coming up in the next month which may help me balance this post trip perspective ;)

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