My daughter and I have recently returned to the homeland after a trip to Eurodisney.
She, light of spirit. Me, light of wallet.
And of weight, given the amount of time I spent on various squatters, home and abroad, in a state of abject angst.
Everything represented a challenge to me, from the boarding of the Eurostar (now my only remaining route off the Island as flying, ferry boats and the front-crawl are out), to dining out.
Being on the Metro felt akin to being buried alive. I feared intruders in the night in our tiny, ground floor apartment. And those irritating little hairdryer-powered scooters they all skitter about on over there were like swarms of hornets out to get me and my child at every corner.
Fortunately we were in the care of an understanding and endlessly patient friend, who organised and ushered us around like a small but highly troublesome school party, and dealt with my sudden gush of tears on the RER with a deft wipe of a tissue and a rousing chorus of ‘It’s A Small World’.
And of course, being in Paris itself was a challenge. Mark lived there, studied there, flounced around its trottoirs wearing turtle-neck jumpers and smoking Gauloises with well-rehearsed Gallic insouciance. We loved, Paris, He and I, almost as much as we loved our Geordie homeland.
Time away is becoming more and more difficult since Mark’s death. Crushing transportation fears aside, the truth is, I simply don’t want to go anywhere. Coming home, to our little village, I feel a weight lift in my heart. It cocoons us, this place, and increasingly, I don’t want to leave it.
“You’ve got some help, mate,” my friend told me as we bade farewell at the end of our Small World weekender. “You’ve always been anxious, but it has reached a new level.”
The world has indeed become smaller. But at this rate, I’m worried it’ll soon end at my front door.