Wednesday, April 28, 2010


We received a phone call today that we thought we'd get about three months ago. The French Office of Immigration and Integration, whose logo of assimilating silhouettes I find infinitely fascinating, finally called about the follow-up to our visa. The agonies and intricacies of French bureaucracy are, of course, legend, and others have written about it more eloquently here, here, here, and even here (also, there's a Facebook group called "I Hate French Bureaucracy!!!!!" I just found out in doing this quick search), so I won't express my own views on the baroque mysticism that fuels it. I will, instead, register both my sullen resignation that now we must jump through these hoops (despite the fact that the OFII waited until we are practically gone), and also my creeping sadness that, oh yes, I remember now, we're not French, and we don't really live here forever, and this is our "France Life," not our Forever Life. Sigh. It was a sad reminder. I'll try to get excited about the titre de séjour (which Mac and I can have, but not the children - for them, we have to go to a préfecture in Lorient - whereas Mac and I have to go to Rennes - ack! and so it begins).

But then we had a hair appointment for the children, thank goodness, and that made everything feel like home again. Madame Pascale made Oliver's Tintin haircut totally rad with some red and gray. He wants to keep it for school tomorrow which makes me inexplicably happy - his quiet confidence allows him to pull off stuff like that. He was cracking us up all day, my little guy, right up to bedtime. That red put some zing in his step!

Eleanor was inspired to be a "coiffeuse" (hairdresser) herself when we got home. I love her little pixie cut. All of the hairdressers at Claude Coiffure completely get the kids' personalities and give them corresponding haircuts - wait until you see Iris's haircut! It's moments like these that it's hard for me to grasp that we'll really leave here someday - being here has been so complete, and there's so much promise in the air with spring everywhere. I can't help but be a little melancholy - and cling to favorite scenarios that getting haircuts for the kids.

When in doubt, eat a "galette" (a savory crêpe). Here is Eleanor, absolutely triumphant, because she finally scored what it turns out she's been wanting for weeks and weeks: "une galette complete." A complete galette has ham and cheese inside and a sunny-side up egg on top. She just sat there and sighed and looked at it and sighed, then smiled some more. And ate every last bite of it.

Iris, meanwhile, got her first trans-lingual pun! It was on her Breizh-Cola glass (big treat to drink that stuff - sweeeeet), which reads: "Le Cola du Phare Ouest." This is funny for three reasons, as my brother would say: 1) because the "Phare Ouest" means the "Western Lighthouse" - which is a nice way to describe Brittany, 2) because the "Phare Ouest" in French sounds like the English phrase "Far West" in English and 3) because Brittany is the Far West of France. Hee hee! (The bonus here is Eleanor's look of utter concentration upon her prized galette).

Our leisurely lunch was followed by a walk in the Bois d'Amour which is also now an entirely new landscape, one I need to dedicate an entire series of photos to: they were planting new plants even as we were walking all around today. Here are the girls poring over a book from the library, another favorite series of my childhood, the Martine books. Iris wanted a "non-fiction" (she specified!) book on how to take care of babies, and Maman, petite maman certainly fit the bill (I didn't tell her it was fiction). I think that being with the kids keeps me living in the present (sometimes in the minute) so much that today's call back to Global Reality came as a bit of a shock. Even the kind of thinking that I do for work calls me to suspend reality, or at least the reality of time. So yes, I was reminded today that our time here will end. But I was also reminded, or rediscovered anew (which is sweeter somehow) that we have made a life here.

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