It’s my 30th entry and 6 months since I arrived here.
Blogley in Lyon 1 – 30: a review
I was back in France after a 17 year hiatus and things seemed to be exactly as I remembered them. Nobody stopped for me at the zebra crossing, the streets smelt of urine, the bars looked lifeless, the bread as hard as ever. But all in all, it was good to be back, and as I walked to my digs that first evening I knew I’d made the right decision to return.
After a few weeks of settling into my new job with everything going smoothly, the first cracks appeared in the form of the French housing system. It seemed impossible for anyone who hadn’t lived here since the Middle Ages to rent a place to live: electricity bills, bank statements, payslips, endless signed papers from lawyers, employers, parents, all in quadruplet, were required to rent even the tiniest of abodes.
Some years ago, the government created a new law to prevent the unfair eviction of tenants. However, it went too far, making it almost impossible for landlords to evict anybody from a property. A good rule, in theory, except that it has made it almost impossible to rent a property without a mountain of paperwork, guarantees and hard cash. So, to cut a long story short, the flat I was going to rent, fell through and I ended up in the Residence where I still live.
Things were OK until November: that shitstick of a month that, wherever you live, or whoever you are, never fails to let you down. November is always a massive disappointment. If the wheels are going to fall off; it’s a given it’ll happen in November.
The weather turned British, I got pick-pocketed, the old TEFL dreariness returned, the sun disappeared, I drank too much, I missed Bristol and my friends, and some nights it felt like I was back in my old bunk at school waiting for another term to end. Other nights I would lie awake thinking that the walls of my flat were closing in on me like that scene in the garbage crusher from Star Wars, and that my life and everything in it would soon be reduced to nothing. All that would be left is a cursor on a computer screen blinking below the last entry of Blogley.
13 November 2011…In Lyon 13 – Feels like my flat is collapsing in around me. One day I will be squeezed into nothingness…[BLINK BLINK]
One night I actually had to get up and walk around the block. I say block, I walked to Vaise and back, a walk of about 10 km. I got back at 2.30 in the morning. After that semi-panic attack, things got better. I had got to a point. I didn’t care anymore. And when you don’t care anymore, a strange thing happens. You relax. And when you relax, you care even less, until you can eventually wipe the mist from off your windscreen and see what the hell is going on.
What I saw was a guy in a nice city in France with a job and his own flat – what he had always wanted. Yet for some reason, this guy’s mind had rebelled against him and had turned everything into a pile of shit.
That was mid November. A slurry of psychological silage had run down my walls for weeks; now it was time to get grip. What in fact happened was that I realised that it was only four weeks until the Christmas holidays, when I could regroup in the bosom of my friends and family. And it helped, for I returned rejuvenated, determined not to slide into the self-obsessing bullshit of November.
After returning, I went back to my job with renewed vigour; I joined the Velo’v scheme; I started running again; I bought some good books; I studied French; I made some French friends. I even started thinking that my flat was too big and that perhaps I should downsize. SWAP: CATLITTER TRAY FOR SHOEBOX. PHONE OGGERS….
In short, I started to try and enjoy the present instead of fretting about the future, or worse still, regretting the past, which over the years I seem to have developed into an art form: ‘If only I had done that, I would have been somewhere else.’ So frustrating. I tell my students that this grammatical construction is the one you use for regret. ‘A regret – a past event that is impossible to reverse!!’ I cry slamming my fist down on the table to emphasise the point.
But perhaps more importantly, I started writing this blog again, which has been good for me, so thanks for reading it over the months.
I have four months until I return to Bristol for summer school, and then I will have to decide whether to return here for another slice of Blogley in Lyon. But that’s something for the future. I have four months left here and I’m determined to enjoy it no matter. No time to dwell. You’re getting older, Oggers. Soon you’ll be 40 and one day you’ll be dead, so think about it…you miserable sod!