15 June 2012

Notes from a friend.

The other day I received a note on Facebook from Taylor, who is still in France, traveling around with her mother.  She wrote this sweet little note on my wall about a woman we saw frequently while in France.  This woman owned a small Kebab place right next to the tram track and we went there our first night in Grenoble. It became a place to meet up, to eat good food, and practice a little French. She became a woman we all looked up to, and she became our friend. 
Anyways, here is what Taylor wrote:
Last night I visited our favorite Kebab Vendor. She was sitting around with a few friends from the city, a french woman, a niece of her’s from Turkey--who also speaks French and English, her husband, myself and my mother. We chatted for a while, about life, the roles of women, men, what to do after college, what to do when your feet hurt, love, and Coca Cola. You would have loved to have been there!

She says that every year it’s the same. They come, her √©tudiants, and they eat her food. She learns about their lives. Some bring their parents. And they become her family. Then they all leave. But they never really leave. She has them all in her heart. All of us are in her heart. Always.
Her note brought up so many memories and emotions and I spent a little time reflecting on how I am feeling. I was sitting in the car on the way home from Seattle, after spending the day looking at apartments with my mom and roommate. It was so incredibly beautiful out. One of the days that makes me fall in love with the Northwest again. I was just so happy to be in Seattle/Portland. I miss Europe so much, but I feel like I was ready to get back to familiar.
This perfectly describes how I feel, how I still feel about my time spent living abroad. I have left the places and people where I found them, but they have never really left me. I have them all in my heart, where they will stay forever.

04 June 2012

Trying to sum up.

I am dreading "that post" that I'm supposed to write to sum up my entire experience without being too wordy. How does one write about an experience like the one I've had? Am I supposed to talk about the places I have been, how everything I saw made the world a little more beautiful? Am I supposed to talk about how every person I met taught me something and changed me a little? Should I mention all the food I ate, and how miraculously my pants still fit?

Five months ago I left home bound for Europe. It was the first time I had really traveled without my family. It felt weird, scary and exciting. I landed in Lyon and discovered how beautiful France was. Lyon was inmensely beautiful and I fell in love immediately. I discovered how great it was to make new friends. I met the Chardiny's who I would discover were the kindest French people I would ever meet. I felt homesickness, I felt scared starting classes, but I discovered a new kind of power, being on my own.

In Feburary, I went to Dublin. It was earth-shattering, heart-breaking, mind-blowingly beautiful. I am thankful for the people I got to travel with, the friends I made and the things I saw. I saw the Atlantic ocean for the first time! I drank Guinness looking out over the city. I laughed my way threw a literary pub crawl. I laughed so hard that I thought I would never catch my breath. I felt so Irish.

In March, I went to Geneva and discovered that Swiss chocolate is actually pretty good. I discovered that all this traveling has made me really consider Seattle homebase. I missed it's green and rain. I went back to Lyon, and found it to be just as beautiful as the first time. Midterms kicked my ass but I was introduced to the French school system. It makes me really thankful for SU. I went to Avignon and saw Coeur de Pirate in concert. I fell in love the guitarist. Finally, I fulfilled my dreams and went to Paris. I ate saw it sparkle, ate Macaroons under the Eiffel tower in the sun, and explored la belle ville with some people I hope to always call friends.

In April, I started really freaking out about having to leave France. After the past few months I have finally mastered the French walk, fast and smooth. And I was starting to get a grasp on the language. Just when I was getting comfortable in France I decided to go to Italy. I spent a week visiting five cities and it was tiring. I saw all the things you read about in History and Art books. It was surreal. It was unforgettable. But at the end I came back to France and felt relieved. I missed France.

In May, I finally got that tan that has been avaiding me. I finished classes, and felt like I passed my exams. I packed up my suitcase(s) and I think they might be under the weight limit. I got to travel to Morocco with 11 other students. I some great Moroccans who made me sugary mint tea, and learned how to actually bargain. I slept in the Sahara Desert under the stars with only a sheet between me and the sky. I watched the sunrise. I rode a camel. Morocco has broaded my world view.

Since January I have been to Lyon, Chambery, Vizille, Dublin, Cliffs of Moher, Annecy, Geneva, Lyon (again), Avignon, Paris, Milan, Verona, Venice, Florence, Rome, Vatican City, Marseille, and Chartreuse.

In the last five monthes I learned how to live in the moment. I learned that laughter is the best medicine. I learned to be thankful. I learned that I loved France. I spent my time seeking adventures, sometimes they were little and only involved me eating a macaroon. They were different each time, but together they have changed me completely.

Today I come home. Slowly the hours are ticking away before I land in Portland. Time is a fickle bitch.

It feels like my heart is breaking. I wish I could go back and yet move forward. All the things I've seen and done, and the people I met are just memories now. Unforgettable memories.

03 June 2012

Finally, home.

"You can't go home again." - Tom Wolfe

"There is no place like home." - L. Frank Baum's

"You can go home again as long as you realize that you may not be coming home to the same home."
 - Home Improvement (aka stories of my life)
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