I feel very sorry to say, but I hate the north of France. I know that place very well; this is where I saw my first daylight, where I took my first steps. I like to think that gives me the right to say so. I was born on a snowy day, but Portuguese blood was flowing in my veins. There was already a conflict of nature. Our relationship was doomed from the start, and it never felt right. From my toes that froze during wintertime, to my spirit that died with every raindrop, my body fought the place. The doctor said I was born to live in the sun. Here is the problem; the sun doesn't show up very often on this side of the world.
Like a magnet, this part of the country seems to attract layers after layers of grey clouds, covering the whole sky, suffocating my soul. It's the big reunion of the water drops and ice crystals that will often decide to meet the ground in an unstoppable rain, leaving me chilled to the bone. Umbrella and scarf are the must-have accessories, but what I love are sunglasses and bikinis.
The dullness of the sky is in harmony with the plainness of the land. Miles and miles of flat earth are all I could see. Here and there, like a hiccup on a landscape, appears a spoil heap, the vestige of a time where coal mining was the region's industrial strength. Endless fields of cereal crops are stretching past the horizon, where my future always awaited me. But I was trapped in a town made of red brick walls and bare trees.
I heard that the people carry the warmth in their hearts, but the only thing I could see was the reflection of the sky on their faces. The sparkle of life I noticed on their cheek came from the generous consumption of their precious booze. Drinking is a habit shared by many, the sooner you start, the sooner you belong, but my favorite drink is fresh-squeezed oranges. So I watched in disgust as the tradition expanded generation after generation. I was a witness to a world I didn't choose nor understood.
Words would resonate in my head, making nonsense. I was supposed to smile at the local dialect's sound, instead, it made me sick. The pronunciation of a beautiful language was butchered to my ears. I was scared the words might contaminate my tongue and foul phrases would take birth in my mouth. I wished I were deaf to their Ch'ti.
I grew up in the smothering nest of the northern land until I could finally escape. I ran as far as I could, skipping around the globe, from China to Canada, sprinting to California with a final jump to Hawaii. I ran to the opposite side of the planet where there are mangoes instead of potatoes. I live in a place where the water I see is in the blue ocean, where the sun, the moon, the stars always shine upon me. Finally, with a heart at peace, I can smile as I say I hate the north of France.