June brought the besties and we squeezed as many things in between Apreol Spritzers, as we could. It was hard to see them leave, and it brought to my attention that I was not the same person as I had been in the past. I watched them take things in and reflect to my first days and impressions and questions. I watched them experience being foreign and uncertain about language and a part of me was happy to see I could talk enough to get what was wanted or needed until the Parisians spoke English.
I cried as I left them to walk home over Pont Neuf. Ironic that it’s a bridge of love and I feel every roller coaster emotion that comes with the big “L” word. This route to the Metro is one I treasure. I spend the next two days catching up on cooking and cleaning and time with Claude before I depart for Dijon. A quick trip over the record breaking heat wave that hit the city. Of course the heat wave hit everywhere and added to the sultry World Music Night being celebrated by all, that couldn’t bear to sit inside anywhere un air-conditioned. Europe is just starting to get warm enough to consider air conditioning. I’m thinking it is worth the investment if you play the stock market.
I returned again just with enough time to clean, do laundry, cook, and see my long-lost husband before I started packing for Spain. This was not planned, but Gloria had to post pone her trip to have a tree removed from her home. By the time, she was ready to go, she was more than tired and Claude felt it was a good opportunity for me to help out.
The GPS on my computer said the trip would take 10.5 hours by car. Of course, this doesn’t account for restrooms, eating, gassing up and a well…older driver. I have not had to drive with any 16 year olds in a while, so this was a good reminder of patience. I knew it was going to be trouble when she said the radio was broken and we stopped after an hour for a break.
We all have seen the classic road trip movies, and I was a bit apprehensive of what could happen along this story line, but it was too late and I put on my earphones and enjoyed the scenery like a teenager myself. After 12 hours, we arrived and I hauled everything I could into the house for her, eager to move my body.
After I was shown the lay of the land, I was fed and stood to excuse myself. She was shocked when I said I was going out for a walk, but I knew I needed to assert my independence early or the week would be tough. She gave me a key and I wished her goodnight and walked 20 minutes to a bar.
You know the old west movies where the cowboy walks in and the whole room goes silent. I could have sworn that I was in that movie and after successfully ordering a bottle of wine I was cheered and offered ham and cigarettes. Both I refused kindly realizing that the only words coming from me were French.
What happened to my Spanish? I had noticed a few months ago that I couldn’t remember words and all of a sudden French took over and suddenly I was in a nightmare of three languages coming out at the same time. I had been repeatedly told to drop the Spanish words I used in French and i guess it really worked.
Walking home with bottle in hand, I enjoyed the countryside adventures and found the week to be filled with many unexpected lessons. The blockage of the Spanish got a little easier each day, and there were a few people that could speak French and no one could get out English. It was very hard and lonely as the internet was not the best either.
The theme of the week became “Misunderstanding” This applied to all, me and everyone that came within a 5 for radius. I nodded a lot and someone eventually informed the new comer that I was not simple, just had a hard time making the language switch. Most looked even more puzzled after it was explained. After some time, I embarrassed it and did pretty much what I wanted. I saw the sights and walked the beach and contemplated the last time I was on sand.
The family in Comillas were as I remembered and even better since I had opportunity to see them more than once. Hopefully we will return soon as the oldest of the brothers and sisters is dying and refusing to do treatments. It rained keeping me out of the water and in the house for many days and Gloria taught me how to make quiche. The last time I was an observer, but this time I rolled them out to her praise and though we had some battles like a parent will with a child, we got to the other side add our respect grew for each other.
I kissed her goodbye and squeezed myself in the middle for the ride to Marmande where Raul and Krystal have a house. I spent the night enjoying local wine and the amazing food and company of the Fernandez family and return to Paris the next day eager to enjoy Paris again. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and after many weeks of being away from home, I realized that 153 Rue Marc Sangnier was home.
I was trying to figure out where I was when my friends and family visited and they noted how well I know the city and then it became real. It was my city. I fight with it like a parent, but I was growing up here and when the days were speeding by I realized that the urgency of my papers was becoming reality.
The first thing I did was go to the Prefecture, and that rarely goes well. Each time I go to a government office, I get a little better, but this is thru a series of painful mistakes. Painful because it one adds to the amount of time i will additionally be waiting there. I was told an appointment would be sent to me by email after turning in the needed paperwork.
The Marie, where they assured me that there was no problem with my ID despite it still not being ready after close to 3 months. Thankfully on one of those rare days at home between different villages I saw my school friends that assured me they had waited the same amount of time as me and that it would eventually come.
But here is now and my Visa will be expiring in a few weeks. I have been assured by a number of people that although technically I could have an issue, no one would be knocking at the door and taking me in. Since the paperwork was already turned in, and the Carte de Sejorn is valid, I should be fine, right?
This is an interesting topic of questioning, so we are moving forward like there is no problem, since there isn’t a clear-cut solution. We have an appointment with the bank in 2 weeks. This will allow me to apply for social security and each question I am asked, I have answered correctly. All the things I could do have been done, but I wait now because…well, It is summer.
Summer is a concept Americans do not know. We know it as a child, when we are out of school and playing in the sun of the night like champions of the universe. But in Europe this is a fact of life and most business slows as the tourist arrive making a mess of the nice quiet streets. That’s actually a lie, the streets are not quiet, but I thought we could use some poet license.
I decides to just start to apply places and give them what I have for them to figure out if I am alright or not. Going with the flow should be easy for a girl from California, but I can’t help but here the little voice in my head saying…you’re an illegal alien. Not yet! No, this is a different place and situation! But am I? Has France made me a brazen criminal hiding form the law? Will I begin to live the dangerous life and accept some foreign name that can easily be spelled on a Starbucks cup?
It takes 26 moves to solve a Rubik’s Cubes, If life could be so easy maybe we would all be off for the summer. Maybe, I would take the role of International Woman if Mystery, and join likes of Melissa McCarthy as a comedic Spy to laugh at as she conquers eat obstacle. I quietly wait with uncharacteristic patience for texts and emails that solve the puzzle of my current life in France.