Sejour, Moving on

October 2nd, 2011 // No Comments

I am on Chapter 4. Writing a book is exhilerating. The stories gush out so fast that I can barely keep up typing them. Incidents and events pop up I had not thought of in years. They appear on my screen like magic. Here I am back in 1959. The world of  that time comes back with such reality like time travel.  In my mind’s eye I am in Pasadena, California and then in Paris as if I’m watching a movie with me as main character. My life in France surrounds me  in black and white. There was little color in those days. The soot covered buildings, narrow streets and ancient clothes people wore blended without distinction.

At the time we worried about a Soviet invasion that would unleash WW III. We were convinced they would drop nuclear bombs on major American cities and take West Germany in a Blitz. Mao and his millions might seek expansion. Communist doctrine demanded that they control the world in order to wipe out their enemies. They didn’t believe in peaceful co-existence. Had he not killed 100 mil. of his own people to eliminate  potential dissidents. How do madmen get such power, I keep asking myself. First Stalin, then Hitler, Mao and so many others who terrorized their people and still do. Probably always will.

Though I felt safer in California than in France, my love for Alain made everything else irrelevant. I wanted to be with him in the worst way. But how? He had been drafted to serve in the French Army and would be gone for thirty months. For a woman in love – an eternity. He would be sent to Algeria where the Algerians staged an uprising to win their independence. The French could not understand what the Algerians had against France when they had the same rights as French citizens, all the amenities and protection. But the era of independence had erupted in  African nations who were tired of having foreigners dictate and exploit their lives. Alain would have to fight them in order to keep order in the land. And I would be alone, waiting for him, like women had done from time immemorial. As a child my mother had waited for my father, who had been killed. We shed tears for years and years. I still miss him so and envy all the children who can grow up under the protection and love of their father.

After our tearful good-bye at the barracks, I couldn’t go to his parents just yet and saw the movie “The Alamo,” not a good choice under the circumstances. I cried some more. Life looked hopeless unless I returned to California. But life without Alain made no sense at all. I had to stay in France, or at least in Europe so that I could see him when he returned on leave. But how? His parents lacked the means to feed me. Besides I needed a carte de sejour, or residence permit, to stay in France legally and to work there.  Of course, there was no way I would get one. How could I find a job when I didn’t speak any French?  The personnel people at the American Embassy could not help. “We recruit our people through the State Department. But you could try one of the military bases. Talk to the personnel office there. The Air Force has one right here in Paris,” the lady said and gave me the address.

Hope gave me wings. There was a chance – remote, but so what?  With the few words I knew in Russian and the mimicry of a Marcel Marceau I explained to Alain’s parents that I would find a job. They were as excited as I – they had taken me in like a daughter and obviously approved of my relationship with their only son.

Now I have to figure out how I will write  this chapter in connection with my present day relationship, looking back to our lives then and now.  Would Alain help me fill in the missing details of his experience in Algeria?








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