Frehel Diaries: Home is Where....
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It takes 17 hours for me to reach JFK. The cute custom’s agent tell me I have a nice smile. He’s surprised by the age in my passport. “You look so young.” Which by implication means that I’m not young, I just LOOK that way. “What’s your secret?” “I moisturize a lot and it runs in the family.” “I thought you would have some secret.” “Nope.” “Well, you have a great smile. Your husband is a very lucky man.” Of course, my husband. Still I’m so happy to be back I say thank you as I take back my passport.

Walking outside JFK, I am greeted by NY weather, which is like walking into a fetid sauna. I haul my bag into the back of a dingy cab and collapse in the backseat thinking, “I’m home. I’m home.” As we drive back to my apartment, looking at the buildings, I think about how unimaginably ugly New York is. It's all drab gray and cement. There's nothing remotely attractive about the chain stores shoved up against each other with only a bit of graffitti for artistic expression. Good God how I had missed it. The stench of dog pee baking on the sidewalks. Self centered parents with the strollers the size of SUVs. The loud inane cellphone conversations.Even those late night KY Jelly ads that I deeply deeply hate. I missed them all. Oh how I missed them. Dear lord how happy was I to be back in the world of predictable intelligible disappointment.

One of my return from France rituals is to have a decadent dinner with Bakerina and tell her the key points of my trip while drinking heavily so I can readjust my inner clock. We agreed to meet at the restaurant across the street. The first thing she wanted to know was, “Do you like him still or do you never want to see him again?” I give her the honest answer, "Neither, really. I do genuinely like him, but the relationship is doomed. I mean, I really have affection for him and wish him well, but if I never see him again-I won't be upset about it." I say it, but there is a slight twinge. It would hurt my ego in the faintest way if he didn't want to be with me, especially after all I have done with him, but that minor pain is overwhelmed by the truth of my statement. This romance will not last. It’s why he chose me to begin with. He’ll never come to NY and even if he does, in the long term, no woman will ever be an equal partner with Nana. He already has the woman of his life. He and I are perfect in this way-both distant romantic ideals that prevent us from dealing with the reality of our situations. Soothing pipe dreams, but that's only a short term solution. In the end, I wouldn't move to France for him anymore than he would walk with me instead of Nana.

Bakerina and I spend the rest of dinner talking about French logic, salted caramels, black cat panties drying on the line, memories of my father, and Breton cuisine. We laugh and drink and eventually slosh home. I think I am happy to be in my bed again, even if it is alone. I've missed my life here...or so I think.

Yet sometimes it is only the absence of something that we appreciate its greatness, its beauty, its value. I lie awake in bed looking at the clock thinking "It’s 7 am there. He’s sleeping. His daughter is also. Happily. Oh she’ll still whine and cry, but it won’t be about me. Not today.

Not today."

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