Last week, I had the pleasure of accompanying my dearest friend to southern France. The days of October were coming to an end and those of November were rolling out in front of us. Alice and I had decided to take an overnight bus from Madrid to Toulouse, as a means to save some money, and we would leave the night of Halloween. My friends in Valencia were a little disappointed that the American was not going to celebrate Halloween, but we had to make the most of our long weekend.
We arrived in Toulouse around 7 am and had quiet an exciting start to the trip. We first rested in the train station, and then decided to walk around for a bit. About an hour into our walk, I realized I had left my purse at the cafe we were sitting in. Such a terrible realization to make, but then once we went back and found the waitress had held it for me behind the bar, we had my purse and a reason to celebrate. Not too bad.
To begin, I have this attraction to the French lifestyle and culture that I cannot seem to track down to when it first began. I realized quickly that Alice shared this with me when we were both obsessing over the loaves of bread stacked high on street vendor tables or meandering to dainty tea shops among the narrow streets. This crush on France would fester inside of us the entire weekend as we continued to enjoy ourselves fully. We drank a coffee when we wanted to, we shared a cigarette when we pleased, we ate when we were hungry. Sharing thoughts about how beautiful the cities we had found ourselves in were and about how ridiculous it was that we had the chance to do this together. Alice has two step-siblings, Wyatt and Scarlett, that moved to Bordeaux about 15 years ago. Every summer, they came to visit their dad, Charlie, in Oklahoma and we would spend the days in the pool in my parents back yard or playing video games at their house. Now, we were all together, in the city where they grew up, that we had spent so many years hearing about. It had always seemed so foreign to me that they lived to France, and I remember thinking it was so far away. Until I was 20, I would have never considered visiting them. The thought just never crossed my mind because of the distance. I am so happy I don’t see the world this way anymore. Yes, the world is immense and boundless, but at the same time, it is not all that big. Never too big to limit yourself from exploring whatever place you could imagine. Alice, Wyatt, Scarlett, and I were in France together – and it seemed like if this could happen after all of those summers in Oklahoma, that anything could happen.
Toulouse was beautiful. Scarlett is working there now at a university while she finishes her Masters degree in economics. I am really impressed with her. She has students that listen to her and she wears a beret. Amazing.
Wyatt is finishing his studies as well in Bordeaux. On our second day in France (also Alice’s birthday) we took a bus to see him and the city. He seems happy. He is working on an engineering degree while also working part-time in computer science. In his spare time, he freestyles with his friends and meets producers for sake on Saturday afternoons. Cool.
We had an amazing time together. We laughed a lot and ate a lot of Lebanese food. They showed us where they go to school, where they use to drink in the park as kids, where they take their morning coffee. It felt so good to see a glimpse into their daily lives, and like I said earlier, I am infatuated with the French and could simply sit in a cafe watching people pass all day.
I have plans to return soon. My friend, Greta, has grandparents in Paris and she would like to take me there in the spring. Anyhow, I am studying French now so I must go to test my level of comprehension – of course!
Au revoir for now,