Nantes hasn’t changed much in a year. The atmosphere, the streets, the landmarks are the same. I suspect a few shops and restaurants closed or are under new management but I can’t tell for sure because all crêperies and boulangeries look alike. For a while, I thought the downtown McDonalds’s, the one where we used to have breakfast at when the first class of the day was cancelled unexpectedly in high school, was closed for good but it turned out it had “just” been ransacked after a protest—the windows were replaced last week and it’s as good as new… until the next protest, of course.
The city hasn’t changed but everything else did. Like my mom puts it, “it was a shitty year.” There’s so much family drama going on I don’t even know where to start both when I try to explain it to Feng and when I attempt to “fix” issues.
“Let’s be positive,” I state several times a day in my most confident Canadian voice.
“Let’s all freak out together and solve absolutely nothing,” my inner French voice nags me.
Mark is oblivious to the drama unfolding. His life revolves around eating pains au chocolat, chouquettes and fromage and watching Terminator or Mad Max… and riding his brand-new trottinette around Nantes.
We had promised him an upgrade from the “baby” trottinette he got “a long time ago when he was four.” Feng bought a bigger model at Decathlon, his favourite French store ever. “For 9-14 year-old-kids,” Mark repeats proudly. “I’m just so good at it.”
If you see an orange trottinette powered by a kid with orange sneakers, please, tell him to slow down. He usually only stops for two reasons: 1) to cross a street (“I need an adult for thaaaat!”) 2) to pick flowers and offer them to my mom and me (“Let’s just hope no dog peed on them…”).
My mom and I are behind, talking, arguing and trying to take problems one by one.
“You know my way of solving problems,” I said a few days ago. “I run away. Not forever, just for a while to step back and clear my mind. Let’s do that. Let’s run away. Let’s go somewhere together. We’re good travellers, you’ll see. Deal?”