At first I think Ok wow this is so cool, there are three mopeds in the old old stone entryway. and then I see this HUGE massive garden with fig trees and a peacock and a mish mash of other plants, flowers, and funky garden ornaments. I get in their kitchen. EVERYTHING is full of color and art that they made mostly themselves. All organic things are in the kitchen, lots of veggies and a funky sink made of stone. That kitchen is very tall, with paintings on the walls. It's very earthy and fun. When you go through a narrow doorway you get to the stairs, which are very skinny and covered with red velted and a cherry wood banishter. There's a piano in that room with the stairs and lot soft little couches. Piles of papers are stacked a lot. There are many colors on the walls, lots of books everywhere and in my room (vraiment la chambre de Joseph) there is a giant fantastic mural on the ceiling that blows my mind, and crazy artworks all hang on the walls.
I got up at 6:10 of the morning of my flight. I wanted enough time to clean up, because packing makes a mess in my room and really all over so I originally set it for 5:30, but ignored it until then. I got up and put last minute things in my purple suitcase and smaller red kipling bag. Showered, dressed, waited for everyone to slowly wake up.
Everyone who knows me well knows that when I get stressed, or worried or anxious I snap at anyone for anything and I'm not pleasant. It began with what my brother was wearing to the airport (I really couldn't care less). As we stood in the driveway, my dog Mick at last came out of his house to say goodbye. He was very quiet, and his eyes looked very sad. After I pet him and said my goodbye he quickly turned right back into his house. A little sad.
When we drove out of my driveway, I did forget to look at my house and the lake one last time, but I was fiddling with the radio and it slipped my mind. Maybe it's better that I don't have that image locked up. We went straight to my best friend's house, Alex, and picked her up.
We drove to Grand Rapids and it was good to laugh with her like it was just a normal day. Once we reached East town we had breakfast at a bohemian place called Cafe Gaia, but I didn't have much because of my nerves.
We drove to the airport straight after, but before, my dear friend MARY came into the Gaia giving me a large envelope packed with juicy wisdom and final regards with a few beautiful pictures and some prayer beads. I've never been so thankful for anything in my life.
As my "zone" was called to board the airplane, I hugged my mom. We did cry. I'm not a crier, so I thought I might not, but when she started to shake I couldn't control it. I love my Mom. I kissed my brother and sister twice each and told them to be good. I hugged my alex. "I'll be seein you."
As my boarding past was scanned, I looked back one final time. They waved at me, and I waved once and then walked on into the plane. I did not want them to see me cry.
In the 1 hour and 26 minutes flight to Atlanta I did not do much else other than cry a little, stare out the window and inch my prayer beads back and forth through my fingers.
I was suppost to connect in Atlanta with my flight to Paris. I did make it, but I'm not even going to mention how close it was. It scares me to think about it.
My seat partner on the flight was another rotary exchange student going to France, but I already forgot his name. On the plane I read quietly, listened to a little music and stared out the window over the ocean. All of the stars were there, the same ones I could see in Michigan. As the sun came up over the clouds, I could see England, Ireland and Scotland. And finally Paris. The Arc de triumph looked like a toy, and le louvre and eiffel tower to. We finally landed in the charles de gaulle airport after 8 hours and 13 minutes.
We made our way through customs, and baggage, where none of my items were lost :) . I wasn't feeling sad anymore, I was feeling excited still and nervous. I called my mom on my friend's international cell phone to tell her I had landed safely. I collected my baggage and quickly galloped to the doors where the other exchange students were (there were 7 of us traveling together.) The doors opening were a Pandora's box. people cramed against a gate barrier, holding out American flags and hollering broken english over babbling French. They were all of our host parents, plus host siblings and friends. It was a sight, and we began to walk into the crowd. Someone grabbed my arm, smiling. "Bonjour Mhegaan! Bonjour Mhegaan!" My host mother is beautiful. She has short hair a deep brown, a smiling lovely face and skinny legs. My host sister as well, with flowing hair down to her stomach. My host mother is Laure and my host sister is Blanche. They guide me warmly up an escalator while I stutter what broken french I know.
I am taken outside where the air is clean but cloudy. I'm in Paris. Blanche helps me with my luggage as Laure runs out to the car, telling Papa I'm here. I take my bags with Blanche to their car, which I thought at first was a small blue smart car, with kind of a weird looking older man. Ok, I thought, this is what I have and I must learn to adapt.
But Blanche pulled me past the smart car and behind it was a large, large VW 60's van. I could see bikes in the back and a warm looking tall man in his 40's beaming at the driver's seat. He had a dark brown beard and a long sleeve green shirt. I went to the back to load my things. Papa came to the trunk to assist me, welcome me, and give me a hug. I climbed into the back seat with Blanche, and there was a large basket. An orange cat climbed into my lap and a wiener dog nested in between the front seat, staring up at me, the stranger. As we begin to drive off, Blanche opens the lid of the large basket, and 8 tiny puppies blink and wiggle.
I pick one up. For the ride home through the countryside of France, I cuddle with the cat and the puppy. It begins to rain and Blanche falls asleep. I listen to an album of Modest Mouse, and we are home.
I'm a little tired, but I don't sleep. Instead I relax for a while and then go into the big city with sister Blanche and her friend louise. We shop a little (I bought a nice scarf) and go for a cafe, and sit by a big fountain. We toured a really large catholic church, looking almost like Notre Dame in Paris. After we ride the underground and then the bus to get home, I clean my room and everything has been unpacked when I first got there. I go to sleep, waking up, it's dinner time with sisters blanche, Agathe and Laure, Papa, and some other friends. I wander into the kitchen and ask if it's night time or day time. "hhahahah Ce Soir!" Darn, so I won't be able to sleep until morning. After sitting at the dinner table until everyone has gone, I ask if I may shower, which I do, and then I went to sleep with the elegant white cat sitting beside me.
I woke up with the white cat gone and instead an orange cat (didier) licking my nose. Today I toured all the gardens while taking pictures and eating some bread jam, fruit et cafe. Earlier, the sun was out. Pictures soon !