culture assimilations

I started The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah a few days ago, and I've nearly had to put it down. Not because of the ghastly war scenes, or the vivid descriptions of human suffering. Those images I store in a part of my brain labelled "Empathy for War Refugees" and "Seriously, Never Forget to Bring Water." No, its her descriptions of French towns. It gives me literal heartsickness. "Tumbling flowers over crumbling stone walls." My heart turns to lead and it hurts, because I am so far away from that, but I can see and feel it so clearly.

A friend of mine told me a few weeks ago that its too bad I have this obsessive Francophilia, because I'm much too easy to make fun of. Its harder to make fun of someone with an obsession with say, Indonesia. Its easy to laugh at someone with a Master's Degree in Art History, specializing in 15th century tapestries, rather than someone with a Computer Science degree who loves hiking. I think I'm perceived as affected, or snobbish. I don't think people understand how deeply it runs. I've been like this for as long as I can remember, and wow it burns like a flame.

This vista does not do much for me:
I can objectively think its beautiful, and I understand why people love it. But me? Nah. This, however, makes my heart stop:
Its always been this way for me, even when I was a kid in Hawaii, living on the beach. It feels inexplicable. I feel like I was born on the wrong side of the Atlantic. I have talked with others who have had that same feeling; Margy, Ann, Jaime, Alison. So why and how does this occur? My life would be easier if I gravitated toward this:
No one would laugh. But when I want this on my walls:
I hear, "Oh that's cute." Its not that I'm trying to be cute, or because I'm a snob. Its because I can't seem to assimilate into Utah culture, no matter how long I live here. My favorite places in the state? Gourmands in SLC:
The King's English:
Or Anthony's:
And I am so grateful for these places, because if it were all this:
I would have an even harder time. I am no pioneer - I ache for the old world. 


  1. My cousin just posted an image of Claude Monet's The Road in front of Saint-Siméon Farm in Winter, 1867. I immediately thought of you and this post and how, maybe, you can see your two worlds colliding a little bit. Look it up and imagine a snowy Saint-Siméon Farm up Hobble Creek Canyon.

  2. I keep coming back to this post, trying to articulate how the triple loneliness threat of different tastes and inclinations, mothering small children, and being generally introverted, all combine to leave me feeling very much alone most days. The internet is such a boon to people like me; I can find enough people sharing enough of my passions and frustrations that I don't have to assume I'm crazy or there's something wrong with me. I just wish I was better at translating that into more meaningful real-life relationships - but again with the small children barrier, that takes a lot of effort, energy, and intention to make happen.