What seems like years ago and just yesterday at the same time (05-09-2010), I packed my life into a single suitcase and left the country, and I haven't been back since.
...was really tough. Flight prices meant that I had to fly to the 'wrong' place and negotiate my way to Aix-en-Provence armed only with a few words of broken french, after not studying it for a year, and a (forced) smile. Eventually arriving in one piece I checked into the hotel I'd booked and had just a week to build my life from the ground up and looking back I honestly don't know how I did it. It's strange remembering times when I sat in Quick at 1am using the wireless Internet, without a place to live and knowing absolutely no one. I had to stop myself from freaking out every few minutes with my eternal mantra of 'You can do this...'
All that seems like a world away now though. I'm enrolled at the local university and have been taking classes and sat exams up to now (in french/with french people) and I actually feel really settled. Insane.
Aix is like a town from a postcard and absolutely beautiful. The home of squares with elaborate fountains, streets lined with designer shops and the people who shop there. Sometimes it doesn't feel like I'm living in the real world. Although I'm brought back to reality every time I go into uni as it's an absolute state/looks like a war-zone. With strikes due to the new retirement age plaguing much of my first months we regularly had to get around blockades of tables and chairs at entrances and stairways to get to class. How exciting.
= there are none. At the start there were a few gays from the US that I knew of but they were generally just awful. Okay awful is maybe a bit harsh, I just wouldn't have gone there. Apart from that I have had physical contact with a total of 1 guys since I've been here and it was a lot less than a perfect experience:
Okay so it's November and I've found out about this monthly gay night which is periodically advertised around uni. After much deliberation I decide I'm dragging two of my friends along as my newly developed phobia of homosexual men has gone far enough. I of course think it'd be too cringe if I wasn't completely shitfaced so I drink two beers and a bottle and a half of wine before I leave the flat. Needless to say I'm absolutely fucked. I remember getting to the club, getting yet more drinks and hitting the dance floor and then blank. Next thing I know I'm waking up in some guy's bed who I do not remember meeting. There is my sick all over his floor and he's talking really fast french to me so I have no idea what he's saying. I manage clean up a bit and ask him where I am and how I get to back to the centre of town and end up on a walk of shame at 10am with vom down my jeans. - It's nice to know I haven't changed but honestly, I'm too old to be doing things like this.
Strangely enough this guy wanted to see me again but I obviously couldn't handle the shame so it nothing more ever happened. I've seen him around uni a few times. Awkward.
Other opportunities to stave off celibacy as yet haven't presented themselves. There's a weekly gay night at one of the bars which I obliviously tried to get into but was turned away because it was too late. The bar is called Cha Do and judging by look the type of guys who go I think it might be short for Cha Doh! I got with someone fugly last night. I'll go if I get desperate (/have lost my mind) and report back.
Friends, Old and New
You know they say that when you move away you realise who your real friends are? I have experienced this...in odd ways. A few of my 'friends' have become psychos to the point where I'm not sure I want to speak to them ever again. They seem to have forgotten that I have a life here that doesn't include telling them every detail of my life in a Facebook message every day. This has gotten a bit out of hand of late with one of them deleting me and then ignoring my request. He has since then come crawling back but I'm being ruthless standing my ground.
One of my other friends who I'll call 'Crazy' (for humorous purposes) is just that and more. If you're gonna message me with things like 'I think of you as my boyfriend' and 'I miss the intensity of us' I will not want to pick things up where they left off when I left the country - I'd rather never return.
The friends I've made here, however, have surprised me. I was fully prepared to have acquaintances but essentially spend most of the time on my own. I mean I know they are special circumstances and I don't have any illusions as to how long we've actually known each other in real terms but I have met some really good people. One of them has three of her friends from home visiting this weekend (one of them gay). Seen as I'm a social retard I'm kinda worried. When I've obviously been talked about I always feel like there's some kind of pressure to live up to a preconceived view of me. I should probably just man-up and stop over analysing.
I'll be back with updates.
Over and out.