Monday, December 19, 2005

Sitting in the Fire with Angels

So there you are, that's that then. That's what we say at home when we finish something. Almost as if we are saying, here, take it it's finished. A year ago I left the 5 bedroom house of my ex of 5 months (finally) and moved into a very small studio in the centre of Nice, in Provence Alpes Cote D'Azur, France.
I was in turmoil, confused, hurt, betrayed alone and weighed 59kgs. Now if you have been following at all, (I mean if you are one of about 7 people who have read this blog), you will know that means I was 9st 2lbs or I was 128lbs. Let me put that in perspective, I am 180cm, or 6ft tall, give or take a very slim finger width.

In this past year I have questioned almost everything I have come to believe. Without reading back over whatever nonsense I may have written since last January, I can safely say that it was the ability to put something down on an electronic page and to get some semblance of feedback from people that kept me going.
This year of blogging gave me a reason to live beyond that of my son. Yes I know, how can I possibly compare the two? Well, let me explain. When a body earns about $400 a month and is deep in debt and eats very little and is occupied with getting around on a bike that is closer to dangerous than safe, and I see my only son for one weekend in two, and his mother abuses me and tells me I am a psycho, then well, let me put it this way, it was very easy to get down on myself and think that perhaps I was indeed a psycho, as I didn't understand what had happened. It was very easy to think I was a complete and utter failure who had a stupid dream of being in the movies and changing the world and writing a great screen play. That I was indeed just a plain dumb fuck who didn't have the right to live really and that my ex was correct to get rid of me and go with a local guy she had met while we were still together, that I never should have left Ireland. It was very very easy for me to think like that as I couldn't really communicate anyway in french, and so what the hell was I doing here anyway? It was very easy to think like this but I didn't allow myself the whole time, just when I was alone. When I was alone, sometimes I wrote.

Well that was then. I stayed because I didn't want my son thinking of me the way I was thinking in the above paragraph. I don't think he ever will now but at the time I didn't know it.

I pushed myself to stay and to find work and I found it hard and I am grateful it is over. I met the strangest people in my year of sitting in the fire. I made some friends too I think, but to be honest the most important thing I did was to sit in the blaze and feel the heat all around me and not to run away.

I would almost believe in Angels the way it has panned out since I started. I met a woman who I liked but we were so different it was unbelieveable. Over a cup of coffee we were great and at anything else we were absolutely crap. I met people I would have considered absolutely nuts in a previous life, I mean it. People who were paranoid in the extreme or in denial. Others (many) who were on the run from whatever life they had had back home, and were here to escape. There is one guy who couldn't manage to put a phrase together in any language. In English he stumbled and muttered and gave a nod and a wink and I could never figure out what he was on about. In French no one could figure out what he was on about. On the exterior at least he managed to give the air of someone confident and able and it was a very strange concoction to behold.
There was an Australian acrobat who was sexy, alcoholic and whackier than you could imagine, but still great fun. She went back home to the ex boyfriend and married him after a near nervous breakdown here.
There was the girl who grew up in Ireland whose father was french, a girl (same person) who was pretty, intelligent, sexy, and very angry, abusive and rude with absolutely no self confidence. She thought her 3 year old daughter had problems but she just didn't see that her child was spoiled rotten.
There was a guy from Nottingham who smoked too much dope, who I actually learned was quite cool. French Algerians who taught me a lot about how vastly different my culture, the French culture, and their own culture is. They would not make the distinction between their culture and the French one but I do.
The stunningly beautiful, fit, intelligent Russian woman who slept with every guy she ever met except me and apparently did it a lot with each one. Only by the time we should have been getting around to it, she was seeing a shrink to stop herself doing it. I wouldn't be surprised if she screwed with him too. Makes me smile really. I am very fond of her just as a person and it's a shame I don't get to see her now.

There was an Italian woman who was in love with a guy who had brought her from Italy to the Cote D'Azur and then run off to find himself. She was waiting for him to come back and was still in love. Her reaction was almost violent if I answered the phone when we were together, she had no other friends whatsoever. She once found a wallet on the street with money and a small muslim prayer book in it. She ripped up the prayer book as she hated the muslim world, dumped the rest of the contacts in the mailbox of the owner, money included, and kept the wallet for herself. I have completely lost contact with her and consider her fascinating but one of the darker minded people I have met in my life. I bet she is still waiting.

There was an Italian couple who became great friends, then she went to Germany and he stayed here and now there is now contact whatsoever.

The french couple who were the first friends I met here. Recently they split. The wife no longer returns my calls, the husband has become a little closer. He understands now some of what I went through even though their split was his idea. During the one real conversation I have had with my ex since we broke up, I asked her how our friend was dealing with it. She told me she had lost tonnes of weight, was taking it very badly, was really stressed out. I didn't say anything but felt like saying 'Oh you mean she is reacting exactly the same way I did?' I was just a tiny bit surprised my ex didn't get it, but then she has never been the type of person to be perceptive that way.

On the job level there were jobs that were interesting teaching wise and others that were just plain awful. Students who just didn't want to learn. A greasy little boy man, with effeminite gestures, an instense unsettling gaze, who was the laziest most unwilling student of a language I ever had the mispleasure to meet.
There was the woman from Morocco who would have married me and had my babies had I been of a mind to ask her but I wasn't. At the time I couldn't figure out why I wasn't. Now I know it's just because it was right not to be.
There was an interesting family of two little girls and a mother my age who used to be an art dealer and was now a bored housewife, the husband a dentist, 20 years her senior, who worked all day every day. They lived in opulence. I couldn't help thinking she was just waiting for him to die and she would restart her life.

Then there was Ken who got me onto blogging. In film script terms I guess he comes under the benign but crusty type. We will be eating our second Christmas dinner together.

There have been the 7 or so of you who have left comments, for that I thank you.

Finally I met the girl I am with at the moment and frankly and plainly speaking, because I know she is going to read this anyway, we both have a lot of work to do to make it work. However the really positive thing is, that even though we are hugely different, we are both intelligent and caring for each other, and so we are able to see the others view and listen and make those little adjustments that make a relationship work. We are good together and that in itself is good.

Quite soon after I got a job that paid me 5 times what I was earning and I started to put on weight. I am now 78kgs, or 12 stone and few pounds or 170 + pounds. I actually have a belly, a round belly. I can't believe it. I am healthy. I am happy.

I am very very lucky, and so I must have had an Angel, making me meet people, one after the other, each one a little more sane than the previous, each one pulling me back a little further from the brink of my own madness.

I celebrated Christmas yesterday with my girlfriend and my son and some other friends. It was the calmest most enjoyable and funfilled Christmas I have ever had. I spoiled my son rotten for a change because I could. I used to be totally against it, but just this once I don't want to play the policeman. He has discipline problems at school and communication between me and his mother is crap. So I try to tell him anyway he has to behave. Smart boys don't play when the teacher is talking they listen and learn.
For this post there is no moral. No sharp or witty summing up. It's an odd time of year that the West indulges in and never really learns from. I won't even go into the rant against the machine that this time of year has become. Just all of you whoever you are, have a great season, and I hope 2006 teaches you what you need and that the lesson is not too hard. If you even gave me the merest hint of smile when I needed it, thank you.

This post has been huge, has not done justice at all to my year of sitting in the fire, but at least it's an acknowledgement in the right direction. :)
So there you are, that's that then.


BlueMoon said...

Merry Christmas Collie!

Great to "see" you are doing well. =)
Keep your chin up - you can do anything with enough determination. And I am thrilled that you have a girlfriend - better to have loved ones around for the holidays.


Steve said...

Haven't been here in a while .... Wow! I'm speechless.

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