I look back at this piece. It is my very first blog entry the day I left for a new chapter in my life. I have so many thoughts and memories of this time, it is almost euphoric. I smile; I smile because reading it takes me back, I can visualize exactly where I was every moment as if I was living it today before my eyes. I smile because I can still feel the excitement of my adventure into the unknown. The feeling hasn’t faded one bit in the 5 years since I have been back.
How ballsy was I? I like to think, pretty damn ballsy. It was after all just two months after my college graduation; I had no money and no clue what I would do with my life, let alone during the great economic crash of 2008. People with 15 years of work experience and degrees were being laid off left and right. How the hell would a green yuppie like me get a job? It was a mere a month before I boarded the plane I hadn’t had this journey planned, just the seed of an idea. Pack a bag, go somewhere. Have an adventure.
I ended up deciding upon France. With my basic language skills and prior semester abroad I knew I would have a leg up. I did after all have to earn my keep while I was there, so I needed something to help me out. Though Italy appealed to me, France was calling my name. I smile at the thought of the country pulling me in with its language, beauty, and charm, and well, cheese too. Return to France it would be, do it while I still had the freedom, fearlessness and wanderlust to.
My, my, my …. I find myself here in la gare (train station) in Paris. I wish I could take a shuttle to the city to see it again for the day but I’ve got a train to catch in two hours so why not take some time to share my adventure so far. My last Parisian train station experience was a very different one. It was 150 lbs of luggage in three inch boots, stairs and a connecting train with only minutes to transfer. Needless to say it was horrific and sweaty experience that I barely survived.
This time around I was, or thought I was, a genius to only bring one bag. Me? I know, impossible right?? Well it was quite possible, that is until I arrived to the check in counter. I received lovely and not so surprising news that my bag was a little overweight…okay, that is an understatement. It was 17 lbs overweight. I couldn’t believe it (well this is the girl who’s last return from France was 150 lbs, but hell I tried). So I reluctantly pulled out my credit card expecting to pay the usual $50 charge when the woman said to me “That is going to be a $150 dollars”. I looked at her in disbelief, but what choice did I have?
She then spoke up and said “You can pay 11 $ to get a card board box.” Perfect! “Oh but it’s cash only.” Whelp, what to do now? Lucky for me, this woman took pity on the poor young girl that was visibly panicked and said “Forget the charge. Safe travels as she handed me the box and smiled. I knew my dad would be proud my charm (or near panic attack) saved me a pretty penny!
Plane bound, I was ready for the long flight ahead. From San Francisco all the way to Paris I flew on the same route as a gentleman who was friendly to me when we ran into each other on the plain or in the airport. While waiting for my train he and I ran into each other again and he bought me a 1664 (the popular beer in France). We drank and chatted while we waited for our trains to arrive. While chatting with this gentleman he told me about the best place to get margaritas where he’s from,“Sinaloas Cafe” he shared. Who would have known what a small world it is? I had been going to that restaurant since the time I was in my moms belly.
Arriving in my new home, Lyon
The moment I got into Lyon I realized it may take me a while to find my family, this place was as big as the New York train station! But as if fate hand intervened, the moment I walked into the main entrance and paused to decide if I was going to go left or right I heard my name in a heavy french accent “Amber!”. Right in front of me were the warm and smiling faces of Virginie and Julie. Virginie is very beautiful and dresses very cute. I immediately could see myself becoming very close with her while I am here, her nature is friendly and kind. Julie is well, a jewel. She arrived in a pink halter dress with a crochet center and tan skin that lingered from her last family vacation. She has sparkling blue eyes and a smile that makes you want to smile back.
Virginie walked me to her Audi and explained to me that I will be using a BMW until they buy me a new car (poor me!). We took the scenic route through Lyon and WOW it is a spectacular city. I can hardly believe that this city is my new home. The best part of it all though…is Dardilly, the smaller village that I will spend the next year living in. Its beautiful and their house is even better. It’s exterior is 18th century and the interior is newly renovated and modern. The first floor holds a kitchen, living room and a dining area. Its all very open and there are windows inside that show through the different rooms. I am looking at one now that shows the steep wooden stairs going to the second floor where is a guest bedroom, Julie’s room, and Michele and Virginie’s room. THEN up one more flight of stairs and you have the office, the play room for Julie, a second living room, a small toilet and my very own room and bathroom. Its more than I could have ever asked for. There is natural wood going along one part of the ceiling and a skylight that opens to fresh air or like tonight allows me to hear the rain tapping on the window (which I love). There is a big storm tonight for some reason, but the weather is warm. I saw éclair or lightening it’s a storm for my arrival.
My nerves went away the first moments I spent with Julie and Virginie. Michele is also very nice and friendly. In fact he just poured me a glass of Spanish wine and we all said cheers or “chin chin” to my arrival here. I am sitting at the kitchen counter with Julie to my left playing on the computer and Michele having an aperitif while checking the mail and Virginie preparing dinner. I already feel at home.