3 weeks have gone quickly by and my French vocabulary has gone from “non-existent” to “extremely limited”. I’d like to give myself a pat on the back, but really I owe it all to Google Translate.
Google Translate has quickly become my best friend in Geneva. There are so many helpful features that make it easy and convenient to easily translate even the most complicated street signs.
Just promise to never use it in a Pharmacy. It turns out that the French have many different ways of referring to period cramps, yet ‘Crampes Periodiques’ is not one of them. Thanks Google Translate for ruining my chances with the charming pharmacist.
This weekend my French (and my nerves) will really be put to the test.
This weekend, I conquer France.
(well…the small French town of Annecy for 1 night…it’s a start!)
All week long I contemplated this weekend trip. I booked then cancelled hotel rooms, obsessively searched AirBnB and Couchsurfing for hosts and ultimately gave up on the idea. There were too many unknown variables and no one to reassure my (completely absurd) fears.
What if for some (highly irrational and unlikely) reason they don’t let me back into Switzerland?
What if no one in Annecy (a well-known tourist destination) speaks a word of English?
What if my AirBnB host kidnaps me and sells me into slavery?
Now, let it be known that I once climbed into a strange mans (incredibly sketchy) white van while backpacking on my own through England. I’ve spent many a night in strangers homes and during my 2 years in the IDF hitchhiked more often than I used public transit. Which just goes to prove that my anxiety is very selective.
Most of my fears for spending a single night in France on my own are completely unfounded and based on absolutely zero fact or actual knowledge. Yet the voice in my head is always happy to jump on any opportunity to increase my heart-rate and hold me back from an incredible experience. Well, this week I decided to tell the voice to fuck off. In a moment of pure adrenaline I booked a bus to Annecy and a hotel to stay in, right by the lake. It was done! NO REFUND AVAILABLE, meaning my inner broke 20something was obligated to go. Of course, immediately after booking and paying for all of this I had a moment of complete and utter panic.
Here is what my panic attacks feels like:
It starts with a cold sweat on the small of my back. My heart starts to beat faster and faster until I can feel the tears forming in the corners of my eyes. My right hand starts to twitch. Always only the right hand which leaves my left hand free to do my thing (taking a deep breath, tapping each of the fingers on my left hand to the pad of my thumb while internally counting to ten, then letting the breath out). This all typically happens within a 2 minutes time period. Which luckily for me makes these minor anxiety attacks supremely easy to bring to a halt quickly. I can calm myself down with 3 deep breaths and an arm wrapped tightly around myself. It’s something that’s always been a part of me and as such it’s become something that I deal with automatically, no real thought required.
Now, large-scale anxiety attacks, those are a bit harder to control. But I thankfully can’t remember the last time I had one of those outside the privacy of my own room. During a severe panic attack my face flushes and I start to sweat, profusely. The tears, the irrational tears with no real reason to be rolling down my cheeks, will drench my top within minutes. My right hand skips the twitch and leads right into a full-on tremor. The only foolproof way I’ve found to bring myself back to reality is physical touch. Being the incredibly single woman that I am, that touch often comes from myself – I wrap my arms around my torso and hold on tight until the tremors stop. A blanket burrito will often work just as well.
If I’m being honest, the blanket burrito technique is my favourite.
Sometimes I find myself to be frustratingly weird.
I hop a bus to Annecy tomorrow and let me clarify – I’m plenty excited. I’ve made a vow to a dear friend that I will go out to a French pub for just one beer and make a proper fool of myself while pretending I speak French fluently. (If you don’t have a Shmuel in your life, get yourself one and quick).
I’m going to do it and I’m going to have a grand ol’ time. I’m telling my anxiety to screw itself and taking control of my long weekend. I’m going to ENJOY myself. If the voice decides to make an appearance (as I’m sure it will), I will handle it. But I refuse to keep holding back for fear of the voice speaking up.
And with that dear (9) readers, I bid you (with my newly acquired) French –