Ooh I’m a bit tired of talking about my dieting since it was so long ago now and pretty damn embarrassing. But I had better get used to that. I have definitely healed that obsession, as I share how in Body Love. But I promised you the conclusion to my dieting in Lisbon and so I will include what I have written in my up-coming memoir, which is abut the failed relationships, the spiritual circus and the breast cancer that made me. But mostly the relationships.
On the overnight bus to Bordeaux after Portugal, aged 25, I determined not to eat between meals anymore, like those slim French women. And like I was when I lost the 5kg and looked my best after Alexis. So I put myself on a strict diet. For breakfast I’d have oats with yogurt and black coffee or water only between meals. For lunch I could have something out but for dinner it was tuna and a red capsicum. I was travelling so I didn’t have many options and it was hard but I did it.
I had not seen much of the south of France and wanted to experience some of the magic and freedom of travelling on my own there. I stayed in hostels and met people. From Bordeaux, I took the train to Toulouse, spent a night in a cheap hotel reading the whole of The Da Vinci Code and celebrated Bastille Day with an Irish guy. I didn’t love hanging out with him, but accompanied him onto Montpellier and loved the place.
Montpellier is a university town with a young vibe, a beautiful smooth limestone main square and elegant buildings all around. It’s just a tram and bus ride from the beach. I went to watch the Tour De France whiz past one day and spent a lot of the time walking around exploring.
When I found b-boys performing a show on the main square, I loved it even more. That Saturday night I sat in front of the café enjoying the show when a short Moroccan dancer with glasses and a moustache came up and said,
“I hope you paid twice because you watched twice.”
We became fast friends and he introduced me to the rest of the group. They were all great dancers and of Algerian, Tunisian and Moroccan decent. I also got to know their two female friends, who were 21, from La Rochelle and oh so lovely.
Mohammed, my guide, took me under his wing and moved me out of the hostel, as it had a curfew. He got me to stay with him at his friend’s new place. Flor was a ballet dancer with long limbs, who smoked a lot and ate only half a rockmelon for lunch. What intrigued and intimidated me about French women was their discipline and restraint. As much as I wanted the body, I wanted to feel that pleasure of deprivation and perfection.
I stuck to my diet and looked my best when I got to Zurich for the Street Parade. On my way there, I stayed with different students who had become friends the previous year, in the Swiss French part of Geneva, Lausanne and Montreux.
What I didn’t understand about myself then is how much I need time alone to recharge. I found comfort in my journal, but only having two days to hang out with each left little time for that.
From Switzerland, I flew to London and onto New York. I stayed with family in New Jersey and took the bus in six days a week to go to the dance school down town and to my waitressing job in Soho. The hip hop school turned out to be quite a nightmare. But I’ll save that for another day.
I ended up going to live in Montpellier the following year and so much more. But you can read more about that when my memoir comes out.
If you would love to read my novel, get Wonderlust here. It’s set in Lucerne, Switzerland!
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Let me know if you can relate &/or if you have or would like to visit Montpellier!
I love you,
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