I’m sitting in the business center of the airport Holiday Inn. (Why are the Brits so stingy with the free wi-fi?) I had grand plans to go to London for the day, but after arriving at the hotel after 1am and feeling very run down, I opted to sleep in. So now I’m just running down the clock until my 7:30 pm flight. It is currently 12:57 pm. Bit of a way to go, still, but I’m making forward progress.
I left Nice last night after a full day of visiting museums and wandering the streets, trying to take in every last bit of the city, and to absorb and savor every memory. My thoughts about the past month are fragmented, and they’re coming to me in snapshots: the view from my classroom; finally understanding the pronouns “y” and “en”; too many bottles of rose; my comic attempts at stand-up paddle boarding; learning a few words of German; a long-promised and finally-delivered harmonic riff; using the séance practique techniques to get directions; a couple of great conversations with the Swiss/Italian owner of my Nice hotel; the 60-something, motorcycle-riding fellow who helped me at the ATM (poussez, pas tirez!).
When you have access to the language of a place, you realize that you also have the ability to peek a bit behind the curtain. You can get a glimpse – imperfect and incomplete, of course – of a culture. It’s not much, but it’s been enough to make me feel more connected, and more affectionate, and more curious about the French than I was at the start of this adventure. And for that I am nothing but grateful.
Friends, France: we will see each other again. Of that I am certain.