So my birthday week began with the Quebecoises’ visit to
The big day was actually Thursday, no sunnier or warmer. Nicole and I slept in, made a big breakfast, rented her a bike, and biked out to the small town where I teach English. We picnicked and explored the paths through the fields. The problem is, I have SUCH a good sense of direction that I forget to take into account natural barriers: I had us on a path through the fields back toward the forest path I knew, and it curved a bit but kept going in the right direction. Despite Nicole’s voiced doubts of my sanity, we kept on. Then the path went from gravel to dirt, then to grass, then entered the woods, then dead-ended at…a river. Bothersome things. BUT we were never lost!
We came home and cleaned up, then went to l’Artichaut, my favorite café in town. I go there with friends on Thursdays to listen to the jazz jam sessions. Nicole and I went for dinner, and I had invited nearly all my friends to stop by for a drink. It was a good crowd: friends from dance class, several other BCA students, Hayley, Manuel (nationalities present: US, French, Australian, Greek, Colombian, German)…and those who couldn’t come by sent messages. It was a wonderful evening, I liked the food, the music, the company, the conversation. No one bought me drinks, obliged me to have a “traditional” 21st birthday (although I hear my sisters are planning it for my return). In the late evening, a piece of chocolate-pear tart (nothing compared to Mom’s yellow cake and chocolate frosting, or Grandma’s puppy chow!) came to the table with a candle in it, and everyone sang happy birthday and the entire bar chimed in. I have seldom been so happy, so thankful.
In the wee hours of the morning, we called it a night and left satisfied. And none of this takes into account all of YOUR efforts: a birthday song by phone from my parents, cards from friends (and their pets), and emails in every form. Thank you, thank YOU, THANK YOU!
But, as I said before, the celebrations continue: on Friday Nicole and I took a day trip to Saverne, an old town at the foot of the
Saturday we rested: a short trip into town to the Hospices de Strasbourg, the renowned wine cellar that’s part of the city hospital, where I chat and chortle with Philippe, who recommends wine for Nicole to take back with her. In the afternoon, we watched a movie and Nicole cooked up a fabulous dinner, which we shared with Hélène from my tango class, and then played cards.
Sunday morning almost all the BCA students left town. They will be settled back at home (some after a very long séjour) now, surrounded by loved ones. A large part of me envies them.
I was glad the family I teach English in (Laurence, the mother, specifically) invited me to celebrate French Mothers’ Day with their family and the grandparents. The meal was amazing, and the family is full of characters. At one point, when they were debating the three best cheeses in
I think it’s normal, to feel divided like this about leaving this place that has welcomed me these last ten months. I wish human beings were not capable of feeling to opposing emotions at the same time, but I think that’s the way we spend most of our existence. Try to keep that in mind when I come back. I will be happy, overjoyed even, to see you; but I imagine it will be tempered by some uneasiness, some nostalgia; overall, I expect it to just be very strange to see you, in person.