As I write these words, Mamie is in the home stretch of her long way home (an RER, a plane, another plane, a car ride) - oof! Bienvenue chez toi, Mamie! We were at the airport bright and early this morning and still had enough time for a coffee - funny that it was at a Starbuck's (those guys are getting nigh ubiquitous in Paris: there's even one beneath the Louvre!). The coffee did indeed taste different, but I can't tell you how. The pains aux raisins, though, were pure France. I'm getting to know CDG airport pretty well at this point, and it's actually starting to make sense - yes, Terminals 1 and 3 are listed together, and 2 comes last, but hey, I'm getting people to where they're supposed to be in a timely fashion, so things are going well!
The poignancy of this moment, when only those with tickets can go forward, is tempered by the Jetsonian coolness of those moving sidewalk tubes that take passengers from check-in to boarding. There's brave Mamie turning 'round to wave goodbye to all of us one last time. We'll see each other next in three months' time - à bientôt! This was a wonderful visit - the first of its kind, now that I think about it. We spoke of Dad quite a bit, and I slowly realized that we may actually be used to the reality of his being here-but-not-here. The process that my mom has had to undergo to rebuild her life as a the spouse of someone with traumatic brain injury has been long and difficult and I admire her greatly for it. This picture confirms and celebrates her independence: bravo, Mamie!
My trek home involved some waiting, but no worries, I had brought a new novel from our wonderful home in Josselin - this is a murder mystery in Cornwall entitled Careless in Red (it's not what you think!) and it's excellent thus far. I miss The Historian, of course (always takes a couple of weeks to get over a novel). So: a TGV ride from Paris CDG to Rennes, and then the bus ride to Josselin. My sense of homecoming is as yet difficult to put into words: all I can tell you right now is that as I saw my first ermine tails, and heard my first bit of French spoken like we hear it around here, I felt like I was home, like I belonged here. I didn't expect to feel that (Paris makes you embrace your transience), but there it was: a gladness and a belonging which only grew as I approached Josselin. And then: boy, were these guys a happy sight to see! The girls were with Mac (teachers out sick, no subs - come on, Sarkozy!) and Oliver was at school. We ran to the store to buy some fish (I got the expensive "cabillaud" because after Paris, France everything in the universe seems inexpensive!) and then went to get Oliver - who, by the way, got an amazingly good report card from school! There's more to be said here, and I need to figure out why my little guy is excelling here, and responding so very well to the structure he resists at home. It could also just be that he's growing up - I've heard it happens!
Then - woo-hoo! - presents tiiiiime! I knew that Mac would be excited about tea from Mariage Frères, but wow! what an awesome reaction! I got him Pondicherry Tea - Pondicherry (now written Puducherry) is a city and a state in India that only obtained its independence in the early 1970s (late) - it had been a French colony before then. We're going to buy a tea ball (the bag is tea leaves, of course) tomorrow and savor it all. The kids were utterly perplexed as to why tea should be so exciting. I could almost hear Iris thinking "#27 on the list of why grown-ups are so incredibly weird."
Oliver seemed to enjoy his pajamas - very cottony and a little on the long side, which is good because he is growing so fast. He put these on and kept them on for the duration of the evening. I am so proud of my little guy - full of projects and drawings (I was proudly handed a drawing of a satyr when we got home - wo-ha!) and enthusiasm. I'm glad that these are a little long - I'd bought some PJs for him in Rome in 2006 that were too long on purpose, and it was great that he only outgrew them last fall.
All Iris ever wants from a pair of pants is pockets, and I do love the poses she strikes when life proffers forth pants-with-pockets. These are linen pants (thank you, Monoprix!) and just as fetching as can be. Her big thing in Quimper was to walk ahead of us (and we had to pretend that we didn't know her) with her hands in her pockets. I see many a promising opportunity for her to swagger in major Francophone cities this summer! Apparently, she was Eleanor's teacher all day today while they were home from school. This was greatly to Iris's liking, less so to Eleanor's. :-)
For Eleanor, my little Parisienne in waiting, I found a t-shirt with a hip chick (note the iPod), her purse and her cat. The look on Eleanor's face is priceless here - it's practically the definition of mischievious. After having spoken nothing but French for three days with my mom, I couldn't help but speak all French to the girls when they picked me up - Eleanor didn't miss a beat and answered entirely in French - until Oliver came, and then there was just too much to say.
Mac reports that this is a new development: Oliver now reads Calvin and Hobbes to Iris (Eleanor is still a little on the young side to get all of the wit (!) and subtlety (!) of the great duo). This great comic is what Oliver read over and over again during our first days here. It's pretty incredible to revisit books like that, and to realize, as Oliver himself did tonight, how much has changed since you read this book the first time. They had a good chuckle over Calvin's torment of the babysitter, Rosalyn, and then it was off to bed! For me, too - I am tired after today. But Mac picked up a crime novel in French for himself, and so I might join him for a spot of reading my mystery novel. And then wow! Tomorrow, I am back at work! We just received the May calendar with its multiple (and I mean multiple) holidays. I will definitely have to hit the ground running! Off we go, back to life at home!
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