I'm home. Whew! Jet lagged and ragged, jazzed, tired, and a little disoriented. Yea I still know how to get to starbucks… but it feels so weird to be here where everyone speaks the language I am comfortable with. Its like a dream and I feel like I will wake up and be back in the dream I was having before!
Yea, it was a dream. Some cool stuff happened to me and I didn't end up robbed, kidnapped or raped! Kinda close on the last one…I'm not used to the way Europeon men are. But I am intact, physically, emotionally and spiritually. In fact in better shape that I left.
We flew from San Francisco direct to Paris on Air France. Daddy didn't spring for 1st class, but thats fine with me cause I'm not to tall or long, but it didn't look comfortable for him! There is no leg room, and his knees were against the seat in front of him. But it was an overnight flight, so we both sort of slept as much as we could. We got into Paris about 2 and took the Air France bus to the train station and then the TGV to Aix-en-Provence. The train wasn't until 5, but it seemed like we ran the whole way, and didn't have a moment to spare. This girl was looking longingly out the window of the bus at Paris and the people, and I almost asked Dad if I could just get out here!
But that wasn't the plan, and it worked out better anyway, for me to go down to St Martin de Bromes with him and stay for a bit to get my head straight for France. Its different there, people aren't like Americans in some ways. You say bonjour when you go into a shop! Imagine being expected to say hello every time you went into a store here! People would think you are crazy! Even in the best little boutiques, no one pays any attention to you unless you look like money bags here! I'm going to try it though, say "bonjour" in a sweet high friendly little voice…and watch the confused faces! But there it is common courtesy. It took a while to get used to, and it wasn't like you were being friendly saying it, but just polite. French people seem a little more formal, or way more formal compared to California!
Anyway we ate on the train. It was like airplane food except you walked to the bar car to get it. I had Aligo et Saucisse d'agneau! Sounds fancy and delish! It was mashed potatoes and sausage topped with cheese. Dad said its called sheapard's Pie here. It did taste pretty good though. France is a major foodie place. I'm in love with it for many other reasons, but the food is enough for a pretty decent affair to be built on. Of course you pay for it. That little meal was 12€. And a € is $1.42, so microwaved mashed potatoes and sausage is a $17 meal. And a coke was about $5! Oh well. Really if you stay away from tourist and travel places, the food is more reasonable and very good. I didn't have the Coke by the way. Dad bought us both wine. Its 18 here. I felt so sophisticated. Funny though because I sure don't feel sophisticated having a glass of wine at a party at school…but then no one in france is going whoo hoooo! and drinking so much that they puke. I did drink a lot of wine there though, just appropriate amounts each time. Well most times… :)
It only took 3 hours to get from Paris to Aix-en-Provence! And it was like 475 miles, like driving from here to Newport Beach. Yea I know you can fly faster, but really with all the wait time for flying and security hassles and then the ground transportation issues, the train was faster! We got there like 8:30 and Dad had a car reserved and it was another hour up to where we were staying.
France is so like California. California is messier, but the country side looks a lot alike. I think it is because France is such an old and established country, that things are just more settled and orderly. In California there is still open land that no one is using, so people don't really worry as much about things getting run down or junky, there everything is used and has been for hundreds of years!
I spent the whole 3 hours staring out the window, and listening to the people around me talk. It was kinda like a dream, unreal but pleasant. And of course I was a bit spaced out from the time differences and travel! I wish we had trains like the french do, its way more relaxing to travel. Even though they go 300 kph which is about 200 mph, they are smoother and quieter than an airplane and you can walk around and not feel so much like you are going to die!
Dad had got me a Eurail Pass, so I ended up riding the trains a bit, and its so cool to be able to walk or take the metro and be at a major train station in minutes and go to another city or town in a few hours. Train stations are in towns! not miles out in the boonies, or long cab rides away! And since everyone uses them the schedules are like every hour! Way cooler than airplanes.
I didn't get to drive over there at all, the rental car didn't allow anyone under 24, but then on the trains anyone under 26 is a youth! But thats ok, because they drive different there and I would probably end up crying. It was like they all knew what they were doing and were kind of aggressive about it. Dad seemed to know what he was doing and changed from his normal poke a long self into a bit of a formula one guy. I had never seen him drive aggressively, but he is real observant and just figured out the feel of it and went for it. I saw a few times while I was there were people were yelling at each other out of their cars and making hand gestures, but luckily not with dad! He is multi talented.
We got there after 10 pm and the lady who watched the place let us in, and I headed straight for my bed. And woke up the next mooring in the dream! Dad had gone and got croissants and made coffee and the air was light and smelled like grass and other sweet stuff, and it was quiet and warm and a world away from my normal life. I don't think I had felt that relaxed and happy and content in years. Of course there were a couple of real shitty years in there! But this was so nice. My mission for the day, chill and recharge, and eat when told.
Dad seemed to have a lot of energy, out at dawn to the boulangerie, then after coffee he said he needed to get his bearings and went for a walk in the village. I didn't! Oh, if you're going to france…don't expect the same quality of bathroom as home. They're tiny and the water heater is this gas thingy in the kitchen that only puts out a trickle! I so wanted a nice long steamy shower and what I got was marginally clean and barely had room to open the towel all the way to dry off. Oh well. Spoiled little me! (Really I am! its true) :)
He came back later with fruit, bread, cheese, wine and flowers! Imagine my dad buying flowers for no occasion? Well its sort of the way they roll in france. They like to live well, even though they are way less extravagant than we are. So the place looked a bit cheerier, and we wouldn't starve.
I stayed for almost 2 weeks before I knew it was time to travel. Dad and I talked a lot. In vino, veritas, as they say. We had a nice lunch every day I stayed, and wine with it and sometimes a nap too! It was the custom there at least for the older people to have the main meal at lunch, and 2 hours is plenty to eat, talk and even doze off.
Dad is kinda ready to move on, or to sort of change what he is doing. I think he will officially retire, he's 65 and its a good time for him to follow more personal interests that his work. Its not like his work wasn't interesting to him, but with mom gone, its just a logical point in time. I think he is going to write, slowly, but probably fiction, maybe using some of the people he met in his work for the basis of characters. Hopefully mix and match! So that no one can be identified! I don't think he has a plot line yet, only sketches of characters. Funny. I'm writing too, I'm working on something autobiographical but fiction. How you say? Well I will just write about me in 10 years time! I'm pulling bits and pieces of "character" off of people I meet and adding them to "me". Don't worry, it will not be too boring as anyone who knows me knows, there will be drama! Hopefully less painful in real life as my past shenanigans. :(
I don't know if he will really try to go to india though. I kinda hope not, but if he needs to he needs to. I'd rather he meet someone. Mom would have wanted that. But then if he goes to india he will probably meet some woman from Marin anyway, so maybe its good.
More to come...next Chloe goes to Paris!