Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Going to Crete to Sublimate

Tomorrow I once again board a train to Paris, (hopefully more successfully this time) to catch a plane at Charles de Gaulle to take me to Athens. I'll stay the night there in an airport hotel, (assuming I find a bus or a taxi or something) and fly to the island of Crete the next morning. I'm doing this partially because I love to travel and my spiritual hero is Zorba the Greek, and partially because I need to get as far away from the dreaded Oenopiades as possible. The Oenopiades, happening this year in Bordeaux, is a crazy camp out that all the wine students in France participate in each year. It's three nights and 4 days of drinking, partying, puking, helicoptering, fornicating, and oh yes, the one academic redeeming factor: networking! 

Despite trying to think of it as a bachelor party or something, the thought of all that alcohol, rowdiness, and substantial number of young ladies both inebriated and undulating is enough to make me sea sick. So, the decision was made that I SHOULD NOT be at home pining and seething, but distracting myself with raki, olives, and Minoan ruins.

The unexpected opportunity arrived out of the blue with an email from some of my middle school teachers back in Hawaii; a couple who were and are somewhat radical, progressive, and.. innovative. I remember spending a whole school day which Mr. W had deemed "savage day" mostly naked in the brambles and underbrush, battling with other student tribes and fighting over scraps of beef jerky. Mr. W thought it was an important lesson on human nature in the wild. 

Needless to say, the two didn't last long in the western education system, and have spent the last 8 years or so traveling the wilds of Africa and, now, the warm islands of Greece. They sent me an email asking if I wanted to visit. It fell on the Oenopiades weekend, so I probably shocked them with an instant and enthusiastic "YES!!"

So, A and I both head out tomorrow, me at noon and he at 7 for an all night bus ride to the South West of France. What shall become of us? Only time will tell! (Though I strongly suspect a hangover is likely.)

Friday, March 22, 2013

If I'm Gonna Have a Tiny Wedding it's Gonna be a Tiny Hit

Yesterday I found my mini wedding dress for my impending mini wedding. Paired with an updo and some pearls I think it will do perfectly. -So perfectly, in fact, I think I'll probably wear it at the real ceremony in several years. Plus, $60 is a nice price tag for wedding attire. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Mechanics of Decision Making and the Joy of "Yes"

I realize I never gave much insight into the lengthy and somewhat painful decision making process that came with deciding to get married. I went through the most absurd and, I have to say, surprising phase of fear, uncertainty, and all around cold feet. Before the concept of suddenly getting married had arose, I was fairly preoccupied with the idea of marriage and convinced I wanted A to be my family. But, once the real decision was put on the table and I was given a week to pick a side, all of that confidence fell off me like snow evacuating a rugged mountain peak in a brisk avalanche. 

The string of stinging questions: Will I never have romance again? Is he the right one? What about butterflies? Crushes? The thrill of meeting someone new and the electricity of new attraction? Is he the right one? Is he really, really the right one????

Close friends and colleagues were concerned that if I were plagued by these questions I probably shouldn't go through with it. Their doubt only intensified my own, and on several occasions I was firmly convinced the answer would be "no." 

In retrospect it's hard for me to wrap my head around this, because in the decision making after math, the storm subsided and  warm elation took its place. When I was agonizing and going back and forth, I even asked A while we were having a drink in a wine bar on the beach, (seriously,) "aren't you concerned about never having another girlfriend..?" He matter-of-factly shrugged and said "no." -without a moment's hesitation. I was impressed, but still churning with an internal ocean of turbulence.

Now, in the weeks after "yes," everything has calmed. Like when the wizard comes into the room after Mickey had caused the big flood with all the bewitched brooms in Fantasia- he just waves his hands and all the rushing water subsides. I'm confident and happy. Now that I'm no longer stressing over the decision, I think I can actually see the reality of the situation: I'm in love! And, geez, I'm happy! And even more surprising and elating, I don't give a damn about crushes and electric attraction. I've had plenty of that and none of it compares to the real thing. The real joy of being with someone who speaks to you on much more than a superficial level. 

We're not doing it the conventional way, sure, or even the most glamorous or romantic. But it's the right way- and it feels so good to know it. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

The French Twenty Fifth

Yesterday, astoundingly, was my third birthday since moving to France. Incidentally it was the best one thus far and not so surprisingly my oldest yet- 25. I'm officially half way through my twenties and there's definitely a shift of consciousness that comes along with it. The pre-25 20 birthdays were all very fresh, sexy, and dangerous. This one feels significantly more serious. 

I treated myself to a bike ride to the Parc de la Colombière where I visited the spring baby goats. So tiny! The size of cats and springing and jumping like popcorn. Little French kids were reaching their hands through the fence and feeding them bread and leaves.  In the evening, A took me out to a pretty extravagant dinner of six courses: escargot, tartar de beouf, echine de chouchon with heavenly mushrooms de Paris, a ridiculously rich cheese platter, avocado and citron sorbet, followed by a perfect port wine with a terimisu. Not to mention several to-die-for wines. Poor A, I clearly saw him break a sweat when the bill arrived. Luckily I was too tipsy and happy to feel guilty. My birthday present: a calcedoine ring. It's beautiful and it fits.  

Anyone who has been following this blog from its beginnings will know that this birthday is a vast improvement to the lonely lamentable situation of my first birthday abroad.(Entrapped with B in his messy, monk tower apartment questioning the decisions of my life- followed by dinner with some seriously unpleasant company which I payed for.) Ahhh. It's so true what the say about needing the bad to appreciate the good, though. Had I never suffered a birthday with B, or five years of mediocre relationship with K, for that matter, I'm not sure I'd know how good my situation is now. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Paris Perturbé

OH. MY. GOD. If anyone had ever suffered a more miserable day trip to Paris I  would be very surprised. Of course I was mildly excited, I love Paris, (who doesn't) and was looking forward to lunch someplace romantic on a pleasant spring day + getting my marriage paperwork + scenic train ride home with little to no complications.

Well. Ominously just before I arrive at the train station here in Dijon, I get a puzzling text from SNCF telling me that circulation is "fortement perturbé," and that I can exchange or cancel my ticket at the service desk. But, I've just arrived, I'm a bit late, and see on the information boards that my train is at the quai, à l'heure, and ready to leave. So I figure the SNCF people have gone insane and I jump on moments before the doors close and the train starts rolling. 

I text A to tell him how silly the SNCF people are and sit back happily.

As the train moves North, the warm sunlight of Spring turns from pleasant, to gray, to snow blizzard. Before I know it the train is stopped on the tracks in a sea of white, where we sit for the next two hours. I miss my embassy appointment and learn from the chatter around me that the Gare de Lyon is completely blocked by snow, no one is getting in or out, and I start fearing for how I'm going to get home in the evening. I havent eaten and I start thinking I might die. Also, I'm not dressed for snow. 

The train finally arrives in blizarding Paris at 2:30 in the afternoon, two and a half hours after my appointment. (I tried calling the embassy on the train but the operator kept disconnecting me or sending me to an answering machine.) I run down into the metro and catch the subway to rue Rivoli, just beside the gardens at the Louvre. I pop back up into the freezing snow blizzard and see the hazy, gray form of the Eiffel Tower peering through the white and for a moment feel a little burst of butterflies in my heart: I can never see that tower without remembering how in love I am with the city. The moment is short lived however, as I shield my eyes from the snow and skid across the slushy, busy intersections to the embassy. 

I get there and only one guichet is left open. I take a number and wait. After 20 minutes, the person abandons their post and I'm seemingly left alone in the American Embassy. A janitor eventually approaches me and asks what I'm doing. I tell him about my appointment and he tells me that everyone in notarial services is gone and that I'll have to come back another day. I muster my most miserable, helpless little girl face and tell him I don't live near Paris and can't come back. It seems to work and he takes pity on me and gets on the phone. Thank goodness, someone was still there for me and they met with me at one of the desks. Straight away they asked me if I had cash. I said no. Then they proceeded to tell me that they couldn't give me my marriage documents because the cashier had left and I couldn't pay with a credit card. I give her my miserable look I used earlier on the janitor. Again she takes pity on me and produces a map of the area. She draws a little path on it to an ATM, and tells me to hurry, because everyone was trying to leave.

Back out into the snow blizzard. I'll remind you here that I had bronchitis, was wearing spring clothes, and was running through a freezing wet blanket of white in a complete panic. Long story short, after stopping and asking several people in the streets,  I found the ATM, got back to the embassy in time, and got my paper work. By now it was time for my train home, so I turned on my heels and dashed directly back to the train station.. where all the trains were still delayed or canceled. Snow was falling in the station and I was freezing and still hadn't eaten. I took shelter in an expensive station cafe and made a hot chocolate last for the rest of the evening until finally, a train heading south appeared on the info board. I got home at 8 feeling victimized. Dieu merci, A had made me a bath and a cocktail. 

Sitting in the hot tub and sipping my drink, I thought, at least I'm marrying the right guy. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Come What May

The annual wine gala was on the 2nd of March and I went despite being under the weather. I just couldn't handle missing the occasion to wear the dress, the shoes, the updo, etc. and leave A on his own for a raucous night of drinking. I SHOULD have, because I'm still hacking and coughing and suffering the slow pain of bronchitis and walking pneumonia. That'll teach me. I spent most of the night with my head down on the table feeling angry with A for drinking himself into a stupor. 

ANYWAY, as most events tend to produce, I have a slew of classy, happy looking photos which misrepresent the evening ENTIRELY. 

The day of the big decision was the day after and, facing swelling tonsils and a hungover boyfriend, (surprisingly) I decided the marriage was a go. (It took a lot of convincing though, that day and the next, trying to drown out the image of him singing and yelling on the bus home at 5am while I suffered in a little germy ball against the window.) 

So we're getting married. We're going to set the date in May. Alban has told his parents and I've told mine, which for both of us was sort of the officiating move. Tomorrow I'm catching a train to Paris to pick up some documents I'll need at the American embassy. 

I went with a girlfriend to city hall to pick up the dossier  several days ago and we were mistaken for a couple trying to have a gay wedding. A cheery, American couple trying to have a gay wedding. The woman at the desk told me very seriously it might be complicated and my friend and I both looked confused until we figured out what was going on. Never underestimate the danger of doing anything oficial in your second language. 


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