Archive for the ‘home’ Category

It Ain’t Always Easy

Wednesday, December 31st, 1969

Stitched together, the colors of emotion I have felt here in Strasbourg create quite a technicolor quilt. Fear and fascination are mingling with anxiety and anticipation. Red roofs remind me I’m not in Worcester anymore. My humble pink house here hardly resembles my gray home back in Maryland. In the streets, streaming threads of brunettes and blondes, without a redhead in sight, poke at my Holy Cross heartstrings like a pin. No indeed: on Mount Saint James I am not. Yes: I miss my home and my Holy Cross.

But my homesick heartache blushes at the hope of the future. I have only just begun to weave my story abroad. Words lost in translation or stumbled over in French comprise but a patch of this experience. I am finding that I could not be with a warmer, cozier family who is here to help me create the most fantastic time in France. In simpler words (and in response to my last post), they don’t hate me, right-handed people, or kids who got sunburned once. They even have Wifi. If my family is any reflection on the kids I’m going to be meeting once class starts tomorrow, I might make it after all.

So what does this mean? I don’t think I ever could have anticipated the hurdles and challenges my fellow Crusaders and I have faced here. The culture, the language, and even the food are far more complex than at first glance. It is not possible to find your way perfectly from Gallia to Homme de Fer the first time without a little help and patience. You may have to ask what the difference between the tarte flambée and the galette is. But it’s like pulling a big blanket all the way above your head in bed at nighttime. At first it’s completely dark and lonely. But after a while, your eyes adjust, you get comfortable, and soon enough you have cozily settled into your own personal niche. Oh, and there’s your stuffed panda by your elbow. For right now though, let’s just say I’m only barely able to make out the stripe pattern a few inches in front of my face.

Chez Hubert in the European Parliament quarter of Strasbourg. A little close to the street for my personal comfort.

The very vintage key to my home, sitting next to some “fric” on my bureau. Fric is French slang for dolla dolla bills.

Gallic Geezer

Wednesday, December 31st, 1969

Well, I’m there. I’m finally over the hill. Furrowed wrinkles crease and crawl across my face. Meager gray hairs sprout sporadically atop my bald head. What’s worse, my vision, now so dramatically impaired, caused my driver’s license to be revoked. Huh, what’s that? Speak up! I can’t hear you. My hearing isn’t what it used to be. Oh, “What am I talking about?”  I just turned twenty-one. I am officially old.

As you may know, the lawful age to imbibe in France is three years younger than it is in the United States.  Thus, since my arrival I have been able to order a glass of wine without any validation of my age (of course, when you’re bald and wrinkled, you don’t get carded often anyway). So, what is it like to pass such an important milestone in a place where said milestone lacks its import? One might think it would be anticlimactic. He or she would be right. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t wonderful.

So then, how did I spend my birthday? Well, unbeknownst to me, my fellow Crusaders had planned a surprise party in honor of the day I was born. And they got me! I’m almost never actually surprised by things like that. Held at the home of last year’s French FLA Stéphanie, the girls prepared burritos, as they are well aware of my affection for Chipotle and the desperate withdrawal I am currently experiencing. (My mother has already looked into airmailing me my usual vegetarian burrito, but it wouldn’t be warm by the time it got here. You think I’m kidding? That’s funny.) The party was incredibly sweet, and it lifted my rather somber spirits. The fête turned out to be the perfect beginning to my birthday week, as it was held a few days prior to the actual date.

When that particular Tuesday arrived, my friends and I kicked it off with a magical three-hour French lesson, followed by a substantial lunch of sandwiches, soft pretzels (a regional specialty), and eclairs. I then returned home, where my family greeted me with a card, a cake, and a plaid bowtie (c’était très chic!). After opening all the birthday cards my family sent along with me the day I left, I Skyped with my mom and the family cat until I left for dinner at a restaurant called HK. (If you think there seems to be a lot of eating in this story, you would be correct).  Then it was time for after dinner drinks including Long Island Iced Teas with glow-stick straws. (NB: It’s fun to hear French people say Long Island Iced Tea; you should try it some time.)  The following day when I returned to my room, I discovered a large package containing all the goodies one could ever ask for. Thanks mom and dad! Clearly, I need to go to other continents for extended periods of time more often.

Apologies for the prolific use of parenthetical expressions in this blog entry.

The brilliant birthday card given to me by my Holy Cross amies. As you can see, Sarah made it.

The lovely, if incredibly rich, chocolate cupcake, complete with candle, from our favorite patisserie “Kretz.”

Some of the goodies Mama and Papa Wey sent me for my birthday. Other care packages are always welcome!