In search of Zorba
This biographie is a short rundown of her original life.
Although she hadn’t asked for it, Pia Petersen was born in Copenhagen. She was supposed to walk into life in France as her parents lived in France but from the beginning things were complicated. She was supposed to be french but her mother wanted her first child to be born in her own country of origin. Nobody knows why. Her mother was a nice mother but not content with inflicting a specific nationality on her daughter, she divorced and forced her child to follow her to Denmark. Pia Petersen tried to resist but in spite of her rebellion, she was 5 years old when she integrated the country named Denmark.
Ever since, Pia Petersen questions the legitimacy of origins, in order to free herself from it.
At the age of , she announced to her parents that she was a writer and her major task would be to free the verb. She still don’t know from where she got this idea. She did not refuse her compulsory education but as she was aware of learning nothing important or essential, she went to school from time to time, much to the relief of her teachers, whom she disturbed with her insidious questions.
She never adapted to Denmark where she continuously exceeded standards, roamed around in margins, always out of categories. She had already decided that French would be her writing language but it was still a bit early for her to write, she needed to discover the world and life. At the age of 16, she realized her first attempt of escaping. She left high school and traveled to Greece in search of her great love, a fictional character Zorba the Greek, the hero of Nikos Kazantzakis. She spent one year in Greece living of small jobs, cleaning hospitals, car rental, store saleswoman, waitress but she didn’t find Zorba and returned to Denmark.
She again tried to adapt herself to her country of origin but she was quickly suffocating because of the precautionary principle that prevented her from inhaling life. In order to escape as soon as possible, she worked in hotels like Sheraton and Codan where she dealt with reception, reservation, communication, all of this being watched by the worried eye of the hotel manager. Her innate critical sense seemed to weigh heavily on their daily lives and they looked more than happy when she resigned. She believes that they breathe with ease still at this day.
She then decided to leave for France. She left with only 10 euros in her pocket and something like 10 french words. As for what was to come, she would figure it out some way or another. Her debut in France was more complicated than it should have been. After a long period in a cult, she lived for some time with delinquents or small time gangsters in Paris. She learned a lot about life and justice and started her learning french with the novel of Stendhal, The Red and the black by Stendhal and a danish-french dictionary. On every page she chose between 10 and 20 words that she learned by heart and step by step, she started to structure phrases, sentences, paragraphs. She still survived with small unimportant jobs, fastfoods, restaurants, mailings, telephone sales, shop assistant, part time jobs in hotels. She loved those jobs that didn’t require her brain but only her capacity of doing and a mind capable of obeying. Alas, she sorely lacked this character trait, the ability to obey and her often innocent reflections forced her to change work very regularly. Also her concentration was quite independent and very often took charge of situations.
She is often asked why she chose the french language and here is one of her answers: the French language is very open, no definition seems conclusive or permanent, you can always add a word or modify something, you can always negotiate meaning. It’s never a fixed language, it is always being created. She has other answers but keep them in case somebody one day ask her to develop her answers. Or not. She has not yet decided.
After she had learned whatever she could from the streets, she enrolled at the Sorbonne for a Special Entry to the University. She was to study for two years. The hotel where she worked did not accept flexibility and she resigned. No compromising, ever, what is necessary is necessary. She then managed to make a staff director at the french railways believe that they desperately needed a Danish who spoke French and was hired at the Gare du Nord where she started in ticket sales department. Incapable of obedience, she was quickly and discreetly demoted into information. She ended her dazzling career at SNCF in a small glas bubble on the platform of the station where she indicated the location of restrooms to lost travelers. The directors sighed with relief when she decided to leave.
She graduated from the Special Entrance at the university and then enrolled in philosophy at the Sorbonne. One could imagine that it would have changed her life, making it easier but it didn’t. It didn’t improve at all and the years to come were hard. Learning French and philosophy at the same time turned out to be difficult. She didn’t really know what philosophy was, mainly because she didn’t learn useful things during her education in Danemark but she did what she could to catch up with her lost culture by working 28 hours a day. As time to work lacked and she still needed to eat, although she had a hard time accepting the fact that it was a mere necessity on which she had no influence, she begged for money on the streets and counted her pasta which for many years represented her only food.
As things of life are complicated, she sometimes thought that life wanted to finish with her.
After some tough life episodes that she prefer keeping for herself, she left forAix-en-Provence in the South, where she finished her master's degree in philosophy that she obtained with honors. Then she began writing seriously. Or not. She is not quite sure.