« Chien qui aboie ne mord pas. » de Proverbe français
« Barking dog seldom bite » French proverb
chez moi : my house/home
chez ami : friend’s house/home
culture de départ : departing culture (culture of origin in a study)
normale(s) : normal
maintenant : now
étrange(s) : strange
une petite fille : a young girl
rêve : dream
même si : even if
le(s) chien(s) : the dog(s)
plusieur : several
malgré le fait
les parcs : the parks
attaqué : attacked
me demander : to wonder
peut-être : maybe
la masion : the house
étrangère : foriegn
I’ve returned chez moi in the US of A. I wasn’t quite sure what I would write about, now returning to my culture de départ, but after taking the cab ride from the airport to chez ami where we spent the night, I felt like a foriegner in my own backyard. It’s odd how quickly our minds and bodies adapt to a new ritual. And I began to notice things – things that have been normales my entire life, maintenant seem étranges.
Ever since I was une petite fille, I would walk and later run daily the loop around my house. These 2.5 miles of road were like a runner’s rêve. Up and down hills along the base of the mountain, in and out of forests, and past agricultural fields, where houses were few and far between. I always felt like I was in a Nike commercial running past each changing landscape. I still trek this loop, même si more houses have blocked my glorious views.
I always wanted my mom to walk with me, but she quickly refused for fear of les chiens. There weren’t plusieurs chiens and I didn’t think they were so bad, malgré le fait I was bit by one during one of my runs. Like all runners I mentally marked those houses and tried to run on the other side of the street. My husband and I walked everyday the year before when I was pregnant. The majority of homeowners know me from when I was une petite fille and the rest would know of me as so-and-so’s daughter. I became nervous one walk when two chiens, luckily only curious, charged my husband and I in the middle of the street and sniffed my belly.
After living over two years in Paris, I was amazed at the agressiveness, many times unprovoked or unwarranted, of American dogs versus French chiens. The French love their chiens and their chiens are everywhere in all sizes and shapes. From public parcs to resturants and chicaucaus to mastis, chiens are a part of the culture as well. The difference is the demeanor of these chiens. I’ve never been attaqué by a French chien let along ever been stared down or chased by one either. Come to think it I’ve never seen a Beware of le chien sign in any home or apartment window or door in the city or in the country. And I haven’t read or watched a news report indicating that anyone of any age has been attacked by un chien. And this a country where living in 13 square meters is not usual, a dimension smaller than my college dorm room, where these chiens wait for their owners to return from work to go for some exercise. I haven’t noticed invisible fences allowing them run all day. I remember living in Baltimore, where I would run around Federal Hill when I was chased by snapping jaws of a chien when I heard the owner yell at the dog, stopped and then said, « Go head – good dog. We hate the Eagles. » Now, I am not a sports fan. I can not name all the teams in the NFL let along know when and what teams are playing and whom. Apparently, my green T-shirt, with no logo of any kind, beckoned aggressive chien behavior.
I wanted to find my mace to take with me to protect myself and I began to me demander why ? Is it that as Americans we live in such a culture of fear that not only do we needs guns but nos chiens have to be programmed to protect agressively if someone is walking by 20 yards from the property line and double or triple that from la maison? That even when the owners call them off, les chiens have a hard time calming down and viewing the new individual as anything other than a perpetrator ? Is this why we really can’t allow dogs to accompany us to restuarants because they would bite and/or bark disruptively at every new guest ?
It was not normal for me being home less than two days and thinking of and missing la France. I hadn’t imagined feeling étrangère so soon. And for all my back and forth this past year – are we making the right decision living here – I began to realize that peut-être I had crossed over the other side.