When I first arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport, I tried to buy an RER ticket into the city from a electronic vending machine. When I couldn’t get it to work, I asked the next man in line for help. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “I’m effraid thees machine will not take strange credit cards.” (We were in an international airport, but whatever.)
The point is, the french word for “foreign” is “etranger,” so I’m getting used to being called a “stranger,” my belongings and habits “strange.”
Sometimes I do feel the strange one. There are these rare, but eye-opening moments where the American way of doing something can seem twisted and bizarrely arbitrary. (To wit: I walk into a bookstore at Chicago O’Hare airport and half the books are self-help. I realize I hadn’t seen one self-help book or Dr. Phil-like guru in my three months in France)
Sometimes I feel like I’m Alice-down-the-rabbithole and I’m sure it’s them who have it all backwards.
And sometimes I just want to kick the machine and yell, “No, you’re the freak!”