Today I do not have lot to say! I simply want to share a little project we were asked to do in school! Our film Band Apart, tiens tiens is that a play on words…?
The music is composed by my good friend Matthias Fuchez, with a tiny amount of my help or support rather. The song is a common project, check out our myspace!! I hope you all enjoy, Happy Friday!!
After a strong reaction to my post from yesterday I feel I should elaborate my point so that no one else misunderstands.
I have a very good friend in Denmark, we’ve known each other probably since we were six years old. She always knew she wanted to do law school so after she finished college she went traveling for a year or two and then she started studying law. She met her boyfriend to years ago and they’re now getting married in the fall. We are very different her and I. She was always more considered than me and went I went off doing something truly random she stayed put. Sometimes I could get annoyed I was always the one making mistakes and she was able to stay on track. This doesn’t mean she didn’t make mistakes but she was better at considering her actions before doing. I, the other hand, have always been good at doing before thinking. The difference maybe between leading a more aesthetic than ethical life, even if I would like to be more the other way around I guess it is always a choice. No matter how big my mess she stayed like a fly on a sticky insect strap, and today we are still close friends. She lives in a house her boyfriend bought for them and when I go visit her I can’t help but feel a little out of place. It is as if she lives in a world of grown-ups and I’m still crawling around on the floor like a toddler… I envy her life sometimes, but when I leave her house I cannot help but feel I still made the right choices although some of them were wrong. Thus when I said “I sometimes wish I was one of these people who have it all figured out”, I meant her. She probably doesn’t have everything figured out, but I only say that (and any so called insults that I unconsciously made, may be because of this) because I don’t feel like I have anything figured out. I may have made bad choices and some of them I regret but I made them anyway and I would make them again because they brought me where I am today. I don’t have it all figured out and I’m living comfortably with that thought which can actually, if you can learn to let it, also be quite comforting. I think what some people might have taken as an insult yesterday may simply have been my own insecurity. When we envy or when we feel insecure we judge and maybe more severely than we should, I know I do… I completely and entirely admit that one day, one day, I do want steak knives and a little red cottage by a lake in Sweden (or a town house in London or a loft in Paris) with a fluffy puppy pissing on my floors. I am just not there yet and this thought is such a stranger to me that it seems almost impossible. So instead I envy the people who are already there even though I know this feeling is unnecessary because I am just not ready for settling down yet. Maybe this getting ready is just something you think about when the ‘settling down’ part hasn’t happened yet. Maybe one day I’ll wake up and realize my settling down happened over three moths… Every person should walk the down the road of settling down at his own pace, I guess, is the morale of this blog post. I didn’t mean to offend anyone and I certainly didn’t mean to belittle or denigrate anyone’s life choices. If I did something it was probably to reveal a little piece of my own weakness.
When I decided to move to London everything was planned beforehand. This was a professional choice, I came to finish my degree, I spoke the language, I had a room before I arrived and I knew a couple of people… Still it seemed much harder than going to Paris with only a thousand euros in my pocket knowing nothing at all. Maybe it’s easier to leave home to live in a new country when you’re nineteen considering it’s probably the first time you leave and apart from your family you don’t have a lot of attachments. You leave to begin something, the commencement of your adult life or some other phrase with a lot of ethos. When you’re twenty-five (even though that is not that old) you leave things behind, people, places, moments… But maybe it’s not a question of age, maybe it just depends on how attached you become to what you leave behind. Maybe it depends on your reason for leaving, if it’s a personal choice or a professional one. I spent a lot of time figuring out why I actually left Denmark behind, and why it’s so difficult for me today, to imagine a life back there. Was I running to something or running from something, and am I still running?
Maybe this would be a good time to bring up the question of freedom. If one were to agree with Vilém Flusser then freedom for the expelled is not a theoretical question but a practical one: We are prone to habit, to the ‘nostalgie de la bue’ the comfortable mud bath where it is nice to wallow, the fact that we will try to make it comfortable for ourselves wherever we are, roots or no roots. When we are expelled, or as in my case, when we expel ourselves we will feel estranged, different from others, we become outsiders. We will then try to create new roots in the new environment to fit in, to be like the others. The question is, is that ever possible and maybe as Flusser says freedom for the expelled is exactly that, to be able to remain a stranger. If you follow his argument; to continually be a stranger also means that you will be able to experience the freedom of changing yourself and others… Maybe he’s right, maybe he’s just trying to find some release from the fact that continually being a stranger is hard.
I sometimes wish I was one of those people who has it all figured out. They finish college then they start university, they find a mate, they buy a house in a nice suburb, they get married maybe they have kids or buy a fluffy golden retriever and then they commute to work everyday… Sometimes I wish I was like that, taking the easy way, settling down. Sometimes I even find myself being a little jealous of my friends who have always been like that. I’m jealous for a split second, but then when I imagine myself in that little cute house, following all the rules, putting steak knives on my wishing list for Christmas, I just see a huge angry bull in a china-shop. Maybe some people need to expel themselves, need to feel expelled, to feel different. But then when does being expelled becomes habit, when does your estrangement evolve into your nostalgie de la boue…? Maybe it is never that simple, or maybe this is just a passing feeling. It is certain however that when we feel like ‘the other’ we try our best to blend in with the crowd.
I distinctly remember one night in Paris, one of the first times when I thought I started to blend in with the population. This was probably in my second year as a bachelor student so I already spoke and wrote fluent French. A friend was doing a theater piece, a mix between theater and stand-up comedy and I really found it funny. Just that seemingly insignificant detail, I laughed because I understood, and the jokes were all in French. Now there is a thing about humor, it is probably the thing that is most difficult to understand when you switch over to another culture. Humor depends on the language, on the collective history of the given culture and sometimes also of the political history. To be able to understand jokes and insider jokes in another language is hard. For me that night was the first time I really thought I was getting a hang of it, a great victory in my small world, and this just because of a couple of jokes. Because it is not easy to fit in, in a new world. My first two years in Paris were great but I deliberately remained a stranger to an everyday life any other French person would have had in the same time, and I was happy like that. Then people moved and all the international people I used to know were suddenly gone and I realized that even though I knew people all around the world, nothing stable, no roots tied me to that new place, where suddenly again I was all alone. I learned to sift through my friendships and ended up having mostly French friends, they weren’t going anywhere and I could thus start building new roots.
I don’t know if one can ever really fit in, in another culture. After seven years in Paris I still had days where I felt apart, and now in London everything is just getting started. Or take Vilém Flusser who lived most of his life in Brazil but always remained the old European. When he writes about exile you can feel that his text comes from someone who desperately tried to fit it, because that’s what we do whatever the reason for our exile. It is almost as if he tries to give exile a purpose, to make it more bearable. Maybe to him, to myself, maybe to some people estrangement is a necessary part of one day being able to settle down, maybe some people never settle down. I am slowly starting to find foothold in my new place, after now almost a year in London things are slowly shifting. Aircrafts have become London to me, they make me feel at home now. I don’t expect to blend in with Brits any time soon and I don’t think I want to. For the moment I am an outsider and I am holding on to that for a little while longer. I am not sure choosing your own exile, or expelling yourself necessarily gives you more freedom than someone who will do the opposite, but I do think that if you can learn how to, you can turn your own expulsion into your greatest strength.
Write a personal essay about exile… Easier said than done, I’m spending a long time contemplating starting the personal essay, it seems fairly straight forward, but then when I start thinking I complicate things more than necessary. I have therefore not written even just one word yet. See I do feel I have something to say about the subject though, If you think of exile in the traditional meaning of the word, then I might not live in exile, but if you think of it as Vilém Flusser does, as someone being expelled from their usual or habitual environment then I guess I have been living in exile for 8 years.
London will always remind me of aircrafts, the noise, the lights and the dirty tails like snails passing through the sky leaving their slimy trails in a long tail behind them. Up until recently this thought about aircrafts was something I hadn’t noticed, a thought floating around somewhere in between conscious and unconsciousness and then one day when I finally acknowledged it, it’s been roaming around in my head ever since. Such a simple thing that I didn’t even notice it and yet so meaningful. Everyone who lives in London, even those who have been here on holiday will know that I’m right when I point out that every time you look up, if the sky isn’t a complete wall of gray, you will be able to notice a plane or even hear the vague sound of jet engines. When I look out my window at night, I see the lights from planes, when I walk around in my own thoughts and I look up, they’re there, or just the sound without the visual, a gentle reminder. They have become such an intrinsic part of my life that I almost don’t notice them anymore. What is it then about aircrafts that keeps my mind locked in thought for so long?
When I first moved to Paris I knew no one, nothing was familiar not even the language… Nothing looked the same, nothing smelled the same everything was new. I wasn’t picky and I got lucky, I found the cheapest flat share, moved in to the same (very small) room with another Danish girl, with whom I quickly became best friends and found a job rather easily. The flat share was obviously illegally sub let and we shared it with out quite random landlord, Yann, who collected old cork bottle stoppers, lived in a room filled with plants, had half long greasy gray hair and wore old dusty pullovers. The flat was situated in the middle of China town and it constantly smelled like fried duck even when no one were frying, but we didn’t care. It was on the 31st floor and we had a panoramic view over the rooftops of Paris, we drank wine and ate chocolate and cheese whilst smoking Vogue mistrals and Daviduff’s looking out on the blinking Eiffel Tower. We didn’t speak a word of French, well maybe three, but it didn’t matter, we would end up discussing French politics after a few beers anyway. We found crappy jobs in restaurants, jobs a lot of blue eyed, blond haired Scandinavians must have done before us, they screamed exploitation and we were payed a lousy salary but we didn’t care. I got really sick not long after I got there, for a reason that to this date is still unclear. I was pretty much hovering between life and death and spent four days in intensive care and three in recovery, I couldn’t really tell the doctors how I felt, they even tried to communicate in German at one point. I could have gone home, that would have been the easiest thing to do but I didn’t. We wanted to be in Paris, we wanted to blend in, we wanted so badly to be a part of it, that when I look back on that time now, I only have good memories. We were so young and carefree and as much as we wanted to blend in, those two first years we really didn’t.
When you choose to leave a life behind, when you choose to travel to a new country, to a new language and to a new culture you don’t necessarily think about all the things you leave behind. I know I didn’t and I know that I didn’t notice the change until it had already happened. You might not even think you leave something behind, but down the road you will. I’m not the sort of person who will complain so I didn’t and these first couple of years in Paris, in spite of all the things that could have made it hell, they were magical. That is at least the memory of it as it is in my head. When I think about it now I can see that I probably cut myself off from my roots. It was sort of a bubble in the beginning and when the bubble popped I found that I had left a lot of my old friends behind and that I didn’t really speak to my family that much. With my family, luckily, I was able to turn that around and I guess with your friends only the truly good ones stays through your mess. My life in Paris, in the beginning, happened as I went along, nothing was planned. One year became two, became three, became I did my degree in a French university alongside French students and ended up staying for seven years.
To be continued…