We are on our way down South from Paris to Bordeaux. In our train coach everyone is in a tired slumber while the rain beats past our fast moving carriage. Everyone except some young kids who won't go to sleep just behind my dad, who can't fall asleep with their chatter. All I hear is people deep breathing and the big black lady next to me lightly snoring with her eyes half shut and dad sighing in exasperation from the lack and want of sleep, from time to time. Poor daddy, still jetlagged from the long flights from the other side of the world. Wait until you get your grandchildren visiting you for the holidays. Though that won't be for a great long while.
We pass greenness after greenness on grey canvas of wet drizzles. These lush plains are the French countryside I know and love. I have spent recent weeks travelling around Italy and the UK, and coming back, I realise just how much France feels home to me. The kids chatter are familiar, the train system is familiar, there is no time wasted trying to figure out each coloured coin's worth at counters.
I just showed my parents around my old street from four years ago. My old Metro stop has cleaned up. It has blue lights now. There are shops on 'my' street I don't remember. The scary church with the weird Michael Jackson memorial apparently is no longer a church. It has shut down, its cross taken down. Coming back to a place that once used to be home, and seeing it with a different eye, aged eye, experienced eye, is a weird experience. I think I crossed an old acquaintance at my old supermarket. Should I have said hi? Maybe she wouldn't have recognised me, any way.
Slumbering in and out of consciousness towards Bordeaux. In a few years' time, this little city I learnt to love will surely have changed, too. The next time I will have come back and see it in a different eye, at my old neighbourhood that is still as familiar as it is newly unfamiliar. Not just yet, though..