We've only had one full day here but I'm already flooded with memories of my first two trips to France, though I'd never been to the Riviera until this trip. I'm overwhelmed with the feeling that I want to be French. Seeing all these stylish women with their stylish kids, men walking around with baguettes sticking out of their backpacks, and that hypnotizing accent . . . what a life, right?
Ten years ago, I spent a summer in Paris. It was the summer before my senior year of college, and I was there to take a couple of classes through Tulane, one of which was called Hemingway & Fitzgerald. We studied their books & visited all the cafes and restaurants they wrote about & frequented as expatriates. Definitely one of my most unforgettable college experiences. I didn't know anyone doing the study abroad program, so I was really on my own, and it felt so exciting to be in a totally foreign city--almost across the world--with no safety net.
I think it was my second day in Paris, while sitting outside an art supply store, that a French man approached me and started speaking rapidly. I managed to tell him that I couldn't understand French, at which point he started speaking to me in adorably-broken English. I finally agreed to give him my email address, and an hour later, I had a compelling message from him asking for a date.
My first date with Joel was actually on Bastille day, and he took me to a little cafe where we had lunch & shared a bottle of Cotes du Rhone before watching fireworks. When we went to his apartment, I noticed a plaque by the front door that said l'ancienne maison de l'artiste italien Modigliani, or "former home of the Italian artist Modigliani." His place was spectacular: an eclectic artist's loft with textiles from around the world, and littered with his own paintings and photographs (one of which, for instance, was a close-up of Claudia Schiffer from when Joel worked for Yves St. Laurent). That whole summer was pretty surreal.
Ultimately, I left Paris and went back to New Orleans, and the relationship with Joel (who by the way you can see here--his grandfather, Henri Cadiou, was a well-known artist, so he's easy to find) was over, but the whole experience was sort of pivotal for me. I could be in a new country by myself and be okay, and I could meet people and have exciting, and kind of risky, adventures. It was one of those coming-of-age summers that you always hold dear.
So now I'm back in (an entirely different part of) France, and my life is in a whole different place. I'm here with the Freitags, taking care of Milo and Jude, and I'm in a happy relationship back home. The adventures I seek are certainly different, but the feeling of being immersed in another culture is still just as rich. The world is so big, and there is so much to experience.
Here's a picture of Milo and Jude on our first full day in Antibes:
More to come. Bonne nuit for now. ;)