Friday, June 25, 2010
Day 16: Many Meetings
We got up slowly this morning, and ate poached eggs with bread, cheese and ham. I then tackled the task of packing all of my stuff. I drew out the process by calling the family I lived with when I was in France four years ago, in the hopes that we could meet for dinner tonight. When the packing was done, I headed to the workshop to finish the coat racks. It went better this time, and I finished in not much time. I sanded them, oiled them, and hung them temporarily for a photo op.
When this was finished, it was clean up time. We went out in the garden and cleaned up the wood and compost piles. We then moved to the little room in the garden, moved all the furniture out, and swept. Leaning on the outside of the workshop have been several huge beams that Garth took out of the house during the renovation. We brought those out to the pile of more huge beams. After some more crap-hauling, we were done.
We headed inside to do some swapping on the computer. While I made a playlist for Garth, he made one for me. We shared some photos and videos as well. While the computers did their thing, we set up some lunch, very similar to breakfast. It was then time to drive to Carcassonne to catch the train.
When we got there, only ten minutes before Cheryl's train. The ticket counters were closed, and the machines wouldn't take any credit cards. The trains that Cheryl and I were hoping to take were not listed. After Garth noted that no one was working at the station, I remembered my mom mentioning a strike that might be happening. And, as she predicted, it was. We scrambled a little trying to figure out my next moves. Garth offered to drive me to the highway to hitchhike to Avignon, but there seemed to be a train going in the right direction that was leaving in forty five minutes, so I declined. After hugs and goodbyes he left, leaving Cheryl and I in the station.
Cheryl watched my bags while I ran into the city to buy a pair of headphones. After I made my purchase, I looked around for a place to buy a Panach, a mix of beer and lemonade that I drank a lot of when I was in France four years ago. Unsuccessful, I grabbed some juices and jogged back to the station. We boarded the train, and took off eastward, no ticket in hand.
When we arrived in Narbonne, I collected my stuff and got off the train. As I was stepping off, I stopped. Right in front of me was a face I recognized. Taking a second look, I realized it was Peter Dutko, my good friend from Oberlin. I swear there are cosmic forces acting around me in strange, strange ways. After the shock, I turned around, got back on the train, and sat down with Peter and his sister. Excited and amazed, we talked about where we had been, what we had been doing, and everything else there was to catch up on. They got off at Sete for a walk around before winding up back home in Montpellier. I took it to the next stop, Montpellier, asked how to get to Avignon, and got back on the same train to Nimes. From there, I took a bus for about forty five minutes.
My parents picked me up from the station. We typed my french family's address into the tomtom, Jill, and drove there. I called as we pulled up, and my French father guided us into the driveway. It was so good to see them. After lots of hugs and hellos, they invited us onto the patio for drinks. My French brother Guillaume is studying in Touluse, so he wasn't there. Marion, my French sister hasn't changed a bit; she's still small, cute, and very, very quiet. The house is much more finished than when I was there, and they have a real swimming pool now. When I was there, they set up a blow-up above ground pool; the most popular spot around.
We spoke in French all night over a huge feast of grilled meats, soufles, and melons. It felt amazing to see them, to bring back memories, and to bring my two families together.
After a loud and animated meal, a delicious pear tart for dessert, and a photo sharing, it was time to head home. We got back to the hotel in St. Remy de Provence, and fell into bed.