I know her

I know the girl who stumbles out of the plane to put on that heavy winter jacket as she descends upon the tarmac. She touches the snow, for the second time in her life, that lightly falls upon the pavement and covers the city in a blanket of light grey.

She saw the city for the first time from the shuffle bus that took her from Charles de Gaulle to Orly. The Eiffle Tower was impressive from afar, yet was still to be properly presented to her in the Spring.

She met him, the man in the blue, when he greeted her at the luggage pick-up. His french name flew by so quick, mixing with the fluent french words that fell so fast. She spoke few french words, he stumbled over his english. In her mind they were having political discussions about the recent cronulla riots and the french perspective on ‘multiculturalism’. In reality, they were struggling a more than a little.

The airport; a home of sighs and cries of joy and love and missingness. A gentlemen to the right threw his bag over his shoulder as he ran to his wife, who stood calmy yet fragile. He swept her up and began to cry. She imagined he’d been on a long journey for business and had managed to come home early. The father on the left heaved his four-year old son onto his hip and grabbed the hand of his six-year-old daughter. “Est-ce que vous avez passé un bon temps chez ta mère?” “Did you have a good time at mum’s?” he asks. They nod, and the daughter begins to rattle on in fast-paced, accented french while the four-year-old falls into a half-sleep.

She’s a girl who passed long moments at airports and train stations. Who discovered joy in parks and large boxes of macaroons. She stood watching the feux d’artifice on July 13, the night before Bastille day. It was a constant juncture. A juncture between France and Australia; between coming and going; between being and becoming; between past and present, present and future. Just as the steps of the sans-culottes, marked revolution on Bastille day, so did this time mark revolution in her life. I know her because I am her. Or I have been her.

[France, 2006]

This is my friend Annie, at the Markets in Nice. I was never a particularly good photographer but this is a primary, more realistic source.


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