In our last days here, I think that we're thinking, "If you can't take it with you (really? you can't take it with you?) maybe you can just eat everything." We'd both had productive mornings (among other things, annotated bibliography finished for Mac, conference paper abstract sent off for me - yipee!) so we easily let ourselves talk each other into going for galettes at the crêperie on the square. Here is one happy Mac (that's a bolée of cider in his hand). Today turned out to be a happy day for many, many reasons: we found out that we don't have to get the kids a DCEM (I don't even remember what that stands for) because we'll be staying in the Schengen territory until we go back to the US (yea!); we found out we're doing just fine financially (which, ever since many, many years ago Mac read the ominous phrase "destitute in Europe" in a guidebook has filled us with more than the usual relief); and we've mapped out a week of on-site research in France (we are now ready for Burgundy and WWI battlefields in mid-July). More gloriously than all that, we've learned that wonderful, smart, warm José emerged victorious from the grueling oral exams last week in Paris - this means many wondrous things (like "yes! good, kind people do indeed win brutal competitions"), including top choices and job security, but I would think the powerful accomplishment of making it through such an endeavor will be a sweet reward forever. We're just never challenged to marshal our stamina, smarts, and endurance like this in the States - yes, there are orals in dissertations, but you're competing against yourself. Here, there were two positions given out in a national competition. There's much to celebrate, and once we told the kids after school, they had some ideas... :-)
In the meantime, it was a galette-o-rama lunch: I had a complète with yummy extra mushrooms (it must be the butter), and Mac's rather intimidating galette comprises the boudin noir with its accompaniement of flambéed apples - I'll confess that as forbidding as it looks, it was delicious. (How is that even possible? And yet it was). We are definitely approaching that "unbearable lightness of being" stage of transitions - almost lightheaded in our delights, partly because of the excitement that awaits, and partly because of the complexity of emotions for what we are about to leave behind.
Nowhere do I see this more than in the children. They are starting to talk about missing their school, and we are realizing just how much of their "France life" happened here, just how many habits and comforts they've made over the past six months, and, as here, just how many friends. This is a great little guy with whom Oliver now trades Pokemon cards - so much so that now Oliver knows the Pokemon names both in French and English (and guess what? they're just as wacky in French!). I notice, now, how many kids Oliver is saying hello and good-bye, too - there are many tales yet to tell, I think.
Today was a Great Big Wonderful Day also because of (drumroll, please) the Ecole Suzanne Bourquin Circus performance!!!! All of the kids from CP on up (which includes Oliver's CE1/CE2 class) were putting on an hour-long show. The girls were beside themselves with excitement and my dear Oliver was cool as a cucumber. He refused to tell us what his act was so that, yes I'll confess it, I was beside myself, too! The most amazing thing, initially, was remembering that we'd been here at the Cultural Center for Tic Tac Magie only two weeks after arriving here. Aside from that time seeming impossibly long ago, it was also watching the girls, Iris especially, jump up and go greet their friends over and over again. They truly were part of this little world of Suzanne Bourquin School - and importantly, a world that Mac and I were only peripherally a part of. Tonight, in all those little hugs and bisous, I was catching a glimpse of the world the kids have been building for themselves. Bravo my little ones.
And now, behold my Oliver attempting to walk on an enormous very round ball!!! He was so awesome! His act was the penultimate one, and I watched him sit patiently, smiling peacefully, chatting with the kids next to him. I'm a mess at events like these: the kids are so earnest, and there is so much love in the room (I often wonder if the professional performers don't think: "Uh oh, looks like we got a crier in row 2"), but I was only scolded "Don't weep!" once by Eleanor who really cannot abide my sentimentality. But watching her clap her hands in time with whatever music was playing and then shout out gleefully "OOOOLLLLLIVVVVEEEERRR!" set me off again. A lot of love.
And then, check this out, he came back again, this time with a brandishing element. The teacher held him as he got up, but then he was on his own balancing on that great big ball. Does the medievalist in me see an allegory about living abroad here? Absolutely! And let the brandishing be that victorious mastery of the rolls and movement of living in a new culture. Oliver's quiet concentration in this will inspire me for years to come. I love you, little man.
And so he and his partners ended their performance to wild applause, the same warm, wild applause that had greeted every kid's performance. It made me love this little town so much. Check out that stage presence on Oliver.
The girls were all over him like a rock star. And there were intense emotions at the end of it all: it's that lightness of being again. Everything is in high relief, perceived and felt large. It was home and to bed after the show - the really big show.
3 days ago