Sunday, March 20, 2011

Le Banlieu

I had never really ventured out of Paris except to go to a specific city.  Today that changed.

Last Sunday, Jerome, my host brother, called to wish me a happy birthday.  He also invited me over to his house.  He asked me the when I could come, so I said a week would be fine, next Sunday.  That was today.

I remember writing about how I always dreaded going to dinner with Michele and the family, but once at the table it was always fun.  That's how I felt today.  My stomach wasn't feeling so hot this morning, so I almost used it as an excuse to tell Jerome I couldn't come.  But something inside of me told me I had to go. I literally would have done nothing else today, so there was no legitimate reason for me to not go.  And I am incredibly happy I did.

Georgiana, Jerome and Lucas live in an incredibly nice suburb of Paris, about twenty minutes away from the Arc de Triumph.  It was a pretty simple train ride to get there.  I had to change twice, but all was fine.  I made it there a little early, so I just sat in the sun at the train station for about ten minutes before I told Jerome I was ten minutes away.  He told me where he could meet me, so I waited there for about twenty more minutes, and then he, Lucas and I walked up to his apartment.

Their apartment isn't anything spectacular until you see their view.  It is smaller than where I live, with a kitchen about a third the size of mine.  Their bedroom is probably comparable to mine.  And they have a great living room, maybe a little bigger than mine.  But the view from their living room is amazing.  Imagine what you would expect to see looking out from a five story building over a sleepy little french town.  Church steeples, roundabouts, gardens, gabled roofs... Yeah, that is what they see.  I don't think it could have been any more French if they tried.

When I got there, Michele, my host mother, and two other people were there already.  From what I gathered, one of the two of the people there worked with Michele at some point.  Never did quite get the details.  All I know is the man, who was very friendly, was from Greece so it was difficult at times for me to understand his French.  His (presumably) wife was French, but she grew up in Algeria.  I liked her, mainly because we commiserated on how much we don't like winter.

After we stuffed ourselves with Georgiana's fantastic hors d'oeuvres, everyone decided to take a walk.  The greek said he knew of a great park that would be wonderful for Lucas.  He was not lying.

We headed out of Jerome's place, baby in his stroller, and walked through the neighborhood.  I'm not really sure why, but there was a canal we followed on our way to the park.  It was pretty neat.  There were some french kids, dressed in blue dockers and sweaters with their collars of their polo shirts popping out playing with a boat in the canal's water.  Again, I imagined that I would see that exact image in a movie.

We got to the park and we walked around some more.  It was so nice, just being able to walk outside and not hate life because of the bitter cold that made you forget what your nose felt like.  The most exciting part of the walk though, was seeing buds on the trees.  The Paris city center still doesn't quite have that yet, but we don't get as much sunshine as they get out in the burbs...

The park had an interesting layout.  There were some large fields on the edges, but the actual park park consisted of a moat and an island with a smaller strip of green rimming the moat.  We walked onto the island.  One thing that was a little shocking was how many families were out.  I guess since it was the first day that you really could go to the park, everyone had the same idea as us.  By far the funniest/saddest part was seeing a group of three little boys playing soccer.  Then one of them kind of sits down and starts crying.  No one seems to notice, mainly because his family thought he was crying because the other two boys wouldn't let him play with the ball.

In actuality, he had peed himself.  I'm not talking about a little wet spot.  It was like he had just fallen into a fountain.  Poor kid...

But walking around that park I realized how much I miss sunshine and warm weather.  It may be because I have a little less than two months left in France, but most things here are reminding me what I love about Santa Barbara, whether they are good things or bad.  For example, the rain makes me love SB for its sunshine.  The sunshine reminds me that I go to a school where for a vast majority of the time it is just like this.

I will be sad to leave France though.  I was riding with Michele on the RER back to Paris, and I realized how incredibly lucky I was to get a host family like them.  They invited me to their house, they fed me, and after I moved out they still stayed in contact with me.

It's people like that, that I will miss most.

1 comment:

  1. hey, you, quit idealizing sb. winter quarter has a lot of crappy, rainy days that just highlight how terrible ucsb is at making anything rain proof.

    (for the record, i did the same idealizing thing when i was in paris. sure, it was great when i got back to sb, but i kicked myself for spending too much brainpower on missing it.)