It rained all day yesterday. Not a hard rain, but a steady one. Today, I don't know what to expect. This morning, I've been sitting here enjoying looking at photos that I took in North Carolina last week. It's pure escapism. I'm glad to be back in France but I miss home just a little.
I don't know about you, but when I travel back to a familiar place, it takes a while for my eyes to adjust. At first, nothing I see corresponds to the vision of the place that I have stored in my mind. The roads are wider, for example, and flatter, and less scenic. There are too many traffic lights and electrical wires. The houses look more fragile, and less well maintained than I remember. Everything looks almost shabby at first.
That's how I felt when I arrived in Morehead City on April 1. It's the town where I was born and where I spent the first 20 years of my life. Most of my family still lives there. I go visit every year. I love the place, but I can't imagine ever living there again.
The eye-adjustment thing used to happen to me during the years when I lived in San Francisco and would come spend one, two, or three weeks on vacation in France. That was when I realized what was going on. Riding home in the taxi from SFO airport, I'd look around and be surprised by what I saw. Wide highways with too many cars on them. Ticky-tacky wood-frame houses perched on hillsides, about to slide down, and painted in funny colors, looking very temporary. Way too many utility poles and wires everywhere. It didn't look pretty — though everybody knows how beautiful San Francisco is.
I think the same thing used to happen when I'd return to Paris after months or years in the States. The city would look dirty, and the buildings run-down. Everybody was dressed in dark colors and had greasy hair. I'd have to wait several days for my eyes to adjust. "I don't have my Paris eyes on yet," I'd think, when I found myself wondering what I had ever found attractive and charming about the place. The lesson is: don't rush to judge a place. Give it time.
I don't feel the same way about the neighborhood where we live now. I guess it's because it's not in a big town or city, and because it's mostly green — especially at this time of year. I realize here that I've already had my Saint-Aignan eyes on for a good week. Looking back at my photos, I can enjoy seeing what my North Carolina eyes were focused on not so many days ago.