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dress me elaborately

Avant mon départ, brune m’a donné des fleurs, et elle a dit “à toute à l’heure, ‘cottie.” Maintenant, je suis à la gare, je pleure. France va me manquer, tu vas me manquer

The past week has been such a blur. No sleep, anxiousness, papillons, some tears, honest words, an overwhelming and sweeping bittersweet. I want to remember every second of it. I didn’t expect to cry when I said goodbye to my host family, my rock pendant les derniers cinq mois. I realized, however, Alix’s distance from me as we parted our ways, and I’m sure her nine-year-old heart knew. I unsuccessfully choked back tears as we waved goodbye. And as I type this, they return. The train ride from Rennes was spent wiping my cheeks en écoutant des enregistrements encore et encore. Now, I sit in the Berlin airport wondering what the hell is going to happen next. These past few months have been surreal, especially these past few weeks, days. I was in such denial about leaving, and now that I have, I don’t even know what to feel. I can’t even begin to be excited about going home because there is just too much confusion and ache. Signs are everywhere in German and it hurts every time I remember I won’t be speaking French anymore, not like I was. I won’t be able to read Sixtine a bedtime story or scoop up Brune in my arms or ask Alix to explain a word or phrase to me. God, I am going to miss them. I’m surely going to miss it all.


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we both want the very same thing

il rest dix-neuf jours à rennes.

things are winding down quickly. la floride and my home in greensboro await me, but i am starting to get nervous. i have had a lovely time here in rennes, and i don’t know if i’m prepared to leave. there are so many smells and words to learn and eyes to greet that i am already aching for.

rennes has been such a good little home to me. my family, my kind and beautiful family, my little host sisters whom i will miss unbearably. i can’t even stand to think about them growing up without me. the park, and the wine, and the buses, and the little houses, and my little babies at school, and even the rain. it has all been so good to me.

here i am, lying in my bed, staring at the white walls. i never did put pictures up. i brought plein de photos pour mettre sur les murs parce que hailey m’a dit que j’aurais sûrement le mal du pays. mais non, ça ne s’est jamais passé. pas vraiment.

and remember when I moved in you, the holy dove was moving too

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deerest dear

dear rennes,

i am fed up with the cold. please, increase your temperatures by approximately twenty to thirty degrees. no, but seriously. please.

avec amour, scottie

in other news, i will be in poland in one week from today. upon seeing la rafle last week, i have been wondering what in the world i think i am doing to myself. la rafle, a film about the largest mass arrest of jews in france during world war two, tore me apart, quite honestly. i don’t know how i expect to hold myself together going to auschwitz, by myself. happy vacation!

i have been in kind of a daze the past few days. this weekend, i had a six-hour bout of the flu (why do i always seem to come down with unbearable, inexplicable illnesses? really.), but i didn’t mind because later i got to play with meredith, who was visiting from italy. lovely time, really. last night, becca’s host parents invited over about thirteen of their friends and family members to drink wine, eat fondu, and showcase our musical abilities. funny, funny. i can say quite honestly that the highlight of the evening was singing ‘wonderwall’ at the dinner table with a large handful of drunk frenchies. they truly love that english music.

last weekend, i journeyed to paris to visit maggie and her troop of elon comrades. despite the fact that we literally failed to take pictures, it was a lovely stay. and let’s be honest, with a free hotel room and free fancy-chic-restaurant meals, i won’t complain. one of my more notable memories, i would have to say, would be dining in restaurants with a large group of non-french speakers. balancing the dynamic between trying to translate french, speaking french to the waiters who most surely spoke english, and speaking english to the french waiters who preferred that i speak french, was a rather slippery slope. an interesting one, indeed. coming to mind in particular is my experience in the last restaurant we ate at; i was yelled at–no, forcefully spoken to–by a french waiter who asked me, in french, “where are your eyes? did you not understand what i said? i said, on the right, on the right! the womens’ bathrooms are downstairs, on the right!” this was his response when i asked for a second time where the women’s bathroom was, because maggie did not see a door that said “femmes” and i had not yet gone downstairs to survey the toilette situation. that was a bit unnerving, but really, paris was lovely, i promise. really really.

in conclusion, dreamsboro, i await you. summer of freedom.

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keep your proverbs short and sweet

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i’ve seen this room, i’ve walked this floor

beckles, i promise, i am going to get a new camera card soon, and then i will stop stealing your pictures.

photo courtesy: beckles

if only i had a device that recorded every fleeting thought, every interaction wordeyeflutterutterance. i would have put it to good use this week.

i had what i would i would consider a rather profound realization wednesday morning at five thirty a.m. i do not want to stop speaking french.

and i can do it, you know. i really can. la plupart de la conversation était en français, as we sat there par terre dans la cuisine pendant six heures, jusqu’à seven o’clock quarant-cinq du matin. to be quite honest, if brice and yo-yo are the only two french friends i make all semester (which, thus far, is proving to be a strong likelihood), i would not even mind a bit.

i remember vividly hailey telling me how months had passed in bolivia without feeling as if her language skills had progressed. but one day, one moment, one speck of time, she realized, “oh my goodness, i can really speak spanish.” et en fait, those words have been running through my head for the past several days.  la nuit blanche at adelle’s prank calling and throwing banana peels and piano playing and translating funny words made that all more evident.

i remember clearly field trips in elementary and middle school, and even high school for that matter: no matter our destination, it was the bus ride that proved to be the most exciting part of the trip. here i am in my near twenty-one years, and nothing has really changed. yesterday, we all went to carnac and vannes, two small towns on the coast of north-western france.  yes, the rocks were pretty, as was the medieval architecture and the boats on the port. even more amusing were the men dressed up as saint patrick’s leprechauns and the wig-wearing man who kissed each woman that passed as his bachelor party ritual. mais ce qui était le mieux, c’était le voyage en bus. that day, that trip, we celebrated brice’s twenty-third birthday. bien sûr, becca brought her guitar, and, bien sûr, we sang sufjan steven’s happy birthday. gifts included a home-made card by natalie and her ten-year-old host sister, signed and loved by all of us. becca and i knitted a little scarf and a little hat and baked oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. il ne pouvait pas parler, c’était vraiment trop mignon. vraiment vraiment. for the rest of the way, becca and i sang songs with brice, who printed out lyrics (yes, beforehand) so that he could sing along. the back of the bus (segregated, literally, from the front) ended the first part of the ride gloriously, reminiscing in our eight-year old 1998 years by singing savage garden’s “truly, madly, deeply” at the top of our lungs for all of france to hear. perfect. though more low key, the ride home was quite nice indeed, including massages and broken english-to-french translations of sufjan stevens and joanna newsom lyrics, which, honestly, are often difficult for even native english speakers to comprehend. we concluded the birthday celebrations that evening at a pizzaria (“yo-yo! nous avons gagné des carambars!”), and later at a bar. despite the drizzly gray rain, it was a vraiment lovely saturday.

also, incidentally, i am sitting dans le salon avec brune et sixtine, and they are watching a rather uncomfortable television show. on the screen, i see colored blobs with eyelashes and brows, speaking french and shape-shifting into bathtubs and changing-tables for the singular human [baby] on the show. trop bizarre.

additionally, i am doing an internship at a montessori preschool (coincidence) teaching english. they are certainly adorable, but, as all three-year-olds, they have a shorter attention span than a flea, one that grows weaker and smaller with every incomprehensible english word i speak. but dang, they are cute.

but not as cute as my host sisters.

and i close with this: two-year-old brune is currently prancing around the living room wearing nothing, and i mean nothing, but her pink pajama shirt and her older sister’s plastic diamond-encrusted pink high-heeled shoes. my goodness, i love my host family.

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if i hear nirvana in that bar one more time…

courtesy of beckles

courtesy of beckles

courtesy of beckles

evidently, blogging is not my forte.

it’s hard to keep up with, you know, these technologies. rather, i’m busy knitting or tasting becca’s baked delectables or drinking wine or pretending to be french. all quite time-consuming, indeed. especially the wine.

things are heating up here way across the sea. i mean that in the most literal sense, bien sûr. the weather finally seems to be improving. i no longer am forced to wait two weeks in hopes of seeing the sun for a few hours one afternoon. no, le soleil seems to be our friend these days. the warm weather, however, j’attends encore.

despite the cold, this weekend was lovely, truly. one might argue it to be the best yet. knitting, and wine, and piano, and and ping pong. my five-year-old host sister (pictured above) and i made signs for our french friend yoann (yoyo) to wave at his all-too-intense ping pong tournament this weekend. he is quite the player, vraiment. chinese dinner après was followed by a small game of kings (yes) at a bar downtown. although my stay in rennes has been entirely nice, it finally feels as if i have a strong holding here, with a small circle of friends i can count on to bring two-euro-a-bottle wine to every soirée and with whom i can most assuredly watch mulan on any saturday night. it’s a comforting feeling, indeed.

as the month quickly approaches, i am scurrying hurriedly to plan my two-week april vacation. despite knowing that most of my friends will be meeting in barcelona for the first several days of the break, i have tentatively decided to stray from the flock. if i do, in fact, carry out my own travel plans, i will first journey to prague to visit several friends, followed by krakow, poland, 45 kilometers and a four-euro bus ride away from auschwitz. for a good part of my life, i have had a dual fascination with most eastern european countries as well as with the holocaust. since the age of eight, i have read, researched, watched, listened, and learned about the holocaust, and i fear that if i do not visit a concentration camp during my stay in europe, i will be throwning away a nearly lifelong yearning to learn into my metaphorical french trash can.  however, satiating this thirst comes at a steep price: i will be traveling alone. in thinking about this, i ask myself several questions. have i ever traveled before? not really, no. alone? no, no. do i speak a lick of polish? absolutely not. do i have any idea what i am doing? on verra. however, i truly think it is important for me to take cousin Katie’s advice on solo traveling in europe : put your finger on a map, buy a ticket, and just go, go, go. on verra, on verra.

in the mean time, c’est l’heure de tricoter ces gants…

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this one is for giovanna

france is a funny place.

here, you eat dinner for two hours and wear your shoes inside and become accustomed to sunny days once or twice a week. here, you greet people with “salut, ça va?” and two kisses on each cheek and you don’t put your eggs in the refrigerator. all things i am still getting used to.

these are all small but important differences i have quickly stumbled upon over the past several weeks. this past weekend, when visiting the coast to stay with my host mother’s parents, i learned experientially that  “je suis calée” is a response more appropriate to say to your friends, rather than to an elderly couple you are meeting for the first time, when asked if you have had enough to eat. with this family i also ate for the first time raw oysters, sardines, and some other bizarre, terrifying beast of a sea creature (whose name escapes me currently) that was indeed quite tasty. they eat a lot of seafood here in bretagne.

our classes have finally begun at the university. we are amongst the italien, chinese, japanese, polish, and various other nationalities at Rennes II, all attempting to better grasp the french language during our two-hour literature or phonetics course.  though it can’t be true, i fear my speaking abilities are dwindling. i struggle each day to ask my family what we are to do next? or where might i find the detergent to faire la lessive? it is a tiring truth to spend each day interacting in a world in which your speaking and comprehension abilities are quite limited.

despite my all-too-often fruitless efforts to conquer the french language, i am, in fact, having a lovely time here in the future. this weekend was full of cheese and wine, of course, gathering seashells on the shore, warming up by the fireplace, and playing an old, creaky, beautiful piano.  while the adults were dining on the appéritifs, i played the piano in the adjoining room, singing quietly to myself. quite soon, however, it was requested that i play louder, and before i knew it had been singing for over an hour.  at some point, my host mother began video-taping me so that she could ‘post it on e-bay and sell for millions when i became famous.’ all said in french, of course.

la rue de la soif has proven to be a success, as has the ‘demi-fraise’ i ordered last thursday night. we are lucky to have such nice french boys to take us on the town. becca and i invited one of them on an adventure to find crème brûlée next week, parfaite. rennes is a nice little town to be spending some months in. i would be lying, however, if i said i didn’t miss home every now and again. luckily, i have thus far avoided any strong homesickness pangs, but i do await dreamsboro this summer, yes indeed. thank goodness for skype. where in the world would we be without it. lonely and aching, that is for sure. additionally, i am growing increasingly jealous of the north carolina snowfall that has yet to fall in rennes. oh, wait. it snowed here this weekend, when i was two hours away at the beach.

i really do seem to have the worst timing.

hurry now, it’s getting late. i don’t know if this is a happy ending but here we are let loose in open fields.


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