The Carpet Bagger's Journal — moving from NYC to Mississippi

January 6, 2010

Where I live

Filed under: Uncategorized — annebabson @ 11:13 pm
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“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world…But because of his great love for us, God…raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus…” — Ephesians 2:1-6

Last Christmas (not at the Casino in Vicksburg, the previous one), I returned after an absence of about ten years to France.

I had lived there as a very young woman, made friends there that I still have, and I spent Christmas as a French country house with wonderful people who know me well.

Me in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in late December 2008

I reminded myself watching them of all the simple things about French lifestyles that I so love — simple, good food made at home, dressing well but not necessarily expensively, conversations about all kinds of ideas, joie de vivre and savoir faire.  I had drifted over the years from this way of doing things, and I purposed in my heart to readopt some of these habits — after all, a lifestyle consists chiefly of a series of habits — and to live better.

I allowed myself to reimmerse myself in French culture.  I began reading Liberation on a daily basis, watched more French films, and allowed myself to think like I did when I did when I was a resident of Paris.  All this I did privately.  After all, there is nothing more annoying than an American making a deliberate show of francophilia to impress others that they are “cultured.”  This was only for my own benefit, so quietly I did this.

Now that I am in a small town in the deep South, I find this easier to accomplish in this private way — not less easy.   If I were  doing it for public approbation, I would see that I am barking up the wrong tree.

You see, I overheard a conversation of women at the hair salon yesterday — I am getting married in a couple of days, and I was there rehearsing my hair style (see a future post about Southern hair) with Michelle, the stylist who will be curling me and teasing me up on Saturday starting at 11.  The women there were talking about how they can’t watch foreign movies — ENGLISH foreign movies — because there is so much about them that they cannot understand.

“They talk funny.  Even though Clive Owen is real good looking, I just didn’t know what was goin’ on.”

Any oblique reference to anything I made to a French cultural phenomenon more arcane than the Eiffel Tower would be utterly lost on this population — their heads, and their hair, are in another place with another set of priorities.

However, as I type this I am cooking rainbow trout marinated in merlot with a mirepoix of fennel and leeks.  I am looking through a pair of hip  spectacles that would be standard issue in Paris.  I am wearing simple but chic clothes, no make-up but some perfume by Guerlain.  I was speaking French with my brilliant young maid of honor Lylah, Egypt’s answer to Jackie O as I chopped onions and listened to both American music and torch songs.

My cousin Marcia, presciently, Fedexed me a wedding present, which arrived in Vicksburg this afternoon.  It was a pressoir.

Hence, while I don’t live in France, I live more in keeping with what I like about France than I did in NYC.  I didn’t have time to chop fennel there.  I was distracted by immediate pressing needs too much to seek a replacement pressoir.

I am happy here.  Where am I?  You decide.  I’ll write more  about the South soon — I’m getting ready for a wedding that is all-consuming this week, all but the core of where I live.  Today, in my mind, I am somewhere in the French countryside, possibly the Loire Valley.  No — I don’t tell you this to impress you.  Why in fact would you be impressed? You live somewhere, too, of your choosing.

Jefferson didn’t live so much in Virginia as in ancient Athens, given the occupation of his mind.  Lylah, my maid of honor, lived in America long before her arrival here.   I submit to you that you can live in Paris or in Heaven if you like.  For me this week, I am not quite in Vicksburg.  I’m still unpacking, but I am doing so with a French je ne sais quoi.

Also easier is to consider Heavenly places where I am seated.  Nothing here challenges my character in my little vacuum quite the way a day in New York City did.  However, I wonder how much I grow in my spiritual quest to love  my neighbor as  myself.  After  all, my neighbors are fewer.

Anyway,  here I am, and as Voltaire said at the end of Candide, after his world-weary characters had been to the highest heights and deepest depths, I am prepared to cultivate my own garden — Il faut cultiver notre jardin.

1 Comment »

  1. How lovely! Please keep writing. Good luck with your wedding, too.

    Comment by Jacqueline Fox — January 7, 2010 @ 3:19 am | Reply

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