Ambilly, c’est fini.

Closing the door one last time. Not looking back. That’s it: I will never set a foot in this house again. The house of my childhood, my home. Maybe I won’t even come back in this small town. Ambilly, c’est fini.  IMG_2668

It’s rather rare in life to know when we are doing something for the last time. I walked back from the border last night, like I’ve done a million time before. Route de Geneve, taking left after the shady bar. Walking fast, it’s not the best neighborhood although I actually never got any trouble. Walking through the residential alley, smelling flowers in the night; spring finally arrived here.

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Waiting for the tram 12 at Bel-Air, one last time.

Taking left once again. Pont Noir. Crossing the railway where it seems a ghost train might appear since they took off the barrier. It feels a bit weird. Last straight line. Rue des Marroniers. I think about Kenny almost every time. I’m not even sure it is where he was living but that’s what child-me remembers. He won’t be there on his motorbike though. Never.

Now the roundabout. On the right the school “La Paix”. My school. I’ve been in every classroom, I played in the yard, I ran, I felt, I lost my favorite marble against a big girl, I sat on the ground, talking for hours with my Iranian friend, wondering why “the couldn’t all get along as we do”. The political discussions we had at 10 do not sound so different from the ones we are having now.

Yesterday, for the first time ever, the street lights were not working. The night was so dark I could not see the playground in front of the school, as if the town was closing down. Good bye,  don’t be sad, there is nothing left from your childhood anyway, nothing to regret.

Walking  along the stadium; on the other side, the park. The lights are on there, but I’m not even sure I visited it since it’s been renovated. It’s not anymore the place where I played hide-and-seek for hours, where I scared myself out going downhill on roller-blades and turning last second to avoid falling in the pond. The waterlilies, the huge goldfish and the broken bricks of the edges, all are gone already.

Left one more time. The entrance of the “Cottages”. The sign has been destroyed years ago but the mailboxes haven’t changed since we got there. Left again in front of Julien’s house. Passing Gael’s, Laura’s, James and Marina’s. Their parents are still living here but we are not riding our bikes together anymore. Au revoir les amis. Facebook is our new neighborhood.

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French boulangerie, when will I ever see you again?

Numero 6. There are no flowers on the clematis. I pause for a second. Good bye little house. Kissing the mezuza one last time. Good bye home. Now I will cary my home with me, everywhere, in the heart of those I love. A house is not a home, it’s just bricks. Home is where love is.

One year

Hard to believe when the most violent storm is roaring outside that a year ago I arrived in Israel on a beautiful spring day.

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We can not always tell exactly on which day our life changed completely, but in my case, there is no way I could forget this date: it is written all over my identity documents, like a second birth date. I am not going to be original, but it’s really weird how far away this day seems to be, although I don’t have the impression that a year already passed. It has been so intense that it feels like forever. Anyway, I thought that a good way to celebrate this anniversary would be to reflect on the things that I learnt being here:

  • Leaving your country, your family, your friends is not that difficult. It’s exciting, challenging, surprising, scary, but if you make it you feel strong!
  • Learning to live far from them though is heartbreaking. Hearing about their struggles on a late-night chat, not being able to do anything, to take them for a hot chocolate, hug them and tell them that you are here for them feels like a betrayal some times. Not being able to rejoice with them is as frustrating.
  • I miss the family reunions, Saturdays breakfast and never-ending Sunday lunches
  •  Not speaking your mother tongue for days happens. And you don’t know in which language you think anymore. The result is that you long for it and all those old songs I was tired to hear give me a smile when they randomly play on my iPod.
  • I miss French food!! And Italian! And Thai! Don’t misunderstand me, I still love hummus, falafels, schnitzels etc… but I didn’t have a single Caprese salad in a year. And I might have missed Starbucks once or twice.
  • I DON’T MISS THE WEATHER! Well it has been raining almost every day this week, and everyone is complaining because it should be spring but really, it’s only the second times it rains for more than an hour this winter. And in a week summer might as well begin. I love it! Back to the pool every day after work!!
  • People make the whole difference. Of course Israel is a beautiful country and I love my job, but it would be nothing without all the amazing persons I met here and are like family. Here, there is no “colleague”. Everyone is your friend, and they really help you when you need it.
  • I can’t get over how lucky I was too meet those incredible persons (you know who you are, you humusaholics) and how happy I am to have a lot more time to spend with them.
  • The more exciting message I can get, the one that will give me a smile for days or weeks every time I think about it and makes me want to jump is “I am coming to visit you in xxx days.” No matter how long I will see you, be sure that you already made my day and all those separating me from seeing you!
  •  I love research, I love reading and learning every day and get to debate ideas, seeing the beginning of positive results, playing around and enjoying it so much that I don’t have the impression to be actually working.
  • I can even survive to Matlab.

In summary, I love my life here and I have zero regrets. I just wish I could have all of those I left behind come visit (and bring chocolate and cheese, my stock here is low and my friends are getting nervous… They’ll be crawling in front of my door soon if they don’t get their fix!). So come visit!!!

 

Additional list of things that I miss:

  • Summer storms, the hot rain and the smell after it
  • Croissants
  • Geneva’s lake
  • “Une tequila et on est reparti”
  • Efficient service. Like not spending half an hour at the checkout when there is only one person before you
  • Swiss public transportation
  • My mom’s food
  • Polite people who don’t bump into you all the time
  • Shopping
  • Wearing heels without people telling me it’s weird

 

Stuff that I have here and would miss:

  • Hummus
  • 9 months of summer
  • Going out on a Saturday night when it’s our Sunday night. Or on Sunday. Or Monday. Or any day.
  • Beach day parties
  • The sea less than an hour far. Two seas actually
  • Cats everywhere
  • Super cheap taxis
  • People calling you khamuda, neshama, kapara (aka cutie, darling, sweetheart) everywhere, including the cashier who made you wait for half an hour and that you wanted to murder 30 seconds earlier
  • No mosquitoes
  • Orange trees, eggplant fields, horses crossing the streets