July 10, 2012 § Leave a comment
It seems like so long ago that I was sitting outside in the middle of the Alps, eating dinner with my family, my brother and I passing goat cheese toasts over the table and poking at an eggy, over-cooked crème brulée. It seems like just yesterday that he was sitting in the back seat of the rental car complaining that he had seen enough cows, that they’re disgusting animals, that the lemon tart he was eating wasn’t as good as the ones I make, that next time, vacations should be max 2 weeks long. Now, I’m very much alone, sitting in a hotel room, windows wide open overlooking the rooftops around my building. If you just stretch your head out the window, you can see the briny, green river. Running alongside the river brings a variety of views, from picturesque old squares and cathedrals, cafés and sanwicheries, to construction sites, run-down car dealerships, and trailer parks, guarded by yippy, haggard dogs, barely tethered to the fence.
Back in the snow-dusted Alps, you could drive for miles without seeing a single house, and a village meant a cluster of buildings — perhaps six or seven — with one brasserie and, if you were lucky, a post office or pharmacy. Driving down into the valleys, we had to stop once or twice to let the cows cross the road and continue up the mountain to greener pastures. When we stopped at each cheese-making post, we might happen upon the occasional group of hikers, or a small family, with a naked toddler playing in the puddles of melted snow. The bright, crisp freshness of the mountains is now a stark contrast to the smell of seaweed stewing in the summer air.
With about a month to go, the desire to go home is popping up every so often, particularly when I’m waiting in the international terminal watching other flights board around me. When checking-in for my flight to Bordeaux in the Barcelona airport, the line of people checking-in for a United flight to New York tugged at my desire to return to North American breakfasts and dinner-sized salads. But on the plus side, being back in France, understanding everything that is going on around me for the first time in weeks, and restoring my faith in French friendliness, isn’t so bad either.