Getting by with a little help from old friends

Specifically one old friend. Ms. Emily Dingersen was kind enough to create my lovely new header for me! I love it and everyone should give her an e-round of applause.

Look for more of her graphic design work in our upcoming issue of Sweet Lemon Magazine! Out verrrrrrrry soon (July 1!).

staying in touch

I always used to hate when people would tell me “you’ll understand when you’re older.” Probably because throughout my teen years I was more like 13 going on 30, but also because it was never fun being talked down to. But as I get/got older, I realize there’s truth to it: there are some things you really don’t get until you’re older. Like how you’ll meet people from a million places and that’s amazing and you’ll travel the world together but not necessarily come “home” to the same place, state, city, town.

Like how hard it is to stay in touch. And how hard it can be to maintain and nourish a friendship. And how long-distance friendships can sometimes be even harder than long-distance relationships. Not that I’m any kind of expert in long-distance anything. Just because you do something for a long time doesn’t mean you’re automatically any good at it. But Sunday night I realized that despite my social abilities and networking skills (which I have been made fun of, but also praised for) I’m bad at staying in touch. It’s not a personal thing; I try to spend as much time as possible on my friends who don’t live in New York. But it’s hard. And post-grad made it harder.

In an effort to reconnect with one of my best friends with whom I had recently lost touch, I told her that I think graduating forces us to be introspective. To figure out what we want, where we wanna go, to plan a road map – at least, that’s what it did for this token Type A. But in the process of figuring out myself, I realized that I’ve become too absorbed in me to keep in touch with a lot of the important people I love that aren’t in a 40-minute radius of New York City. That’s a problem. Now, I can’t blame post-grad. Well, actually I can, but it’s not a sufficient excuse for letting a friendship fall by the wayside. It’s easy to get dragged into Netflix as soon as you get home – the seemingly endless supply of 30 Rock and the West Wing have become one of my most cherished post-work rituals. And I think at this point, friends get that. But there’s only so many times someone can call and get no call back. I hereby resolve to start answering my phone a little more, to texting stories that are too long to type but that are important in continuing a relationship, and to all around be a better friend. Because at the end of the day, the West Wing is only 150+ episodes. And when I’m done with them, I’d like to know I still have people to call who will discuss it with me.

Better to have loved…

I have to continually remind myself of this idea – that it’s better to have experienced, to have seen, to have learned, to have met, to have known someone than it is to not have had that chance at all. But with the series of goodbyes and au revoir’s over the course of the past week and a half, I’m still not too sure this is making it any easier – only showing me that the pit in my stomach is a sign that the past four months were worth it. I had the chance to meet the most amazing people: 31 people at AUCP who, each in their own way, made this experience unforgettable; a host family – complete with live in host brother – who, upon closing the door to my 3rd floor apartment for the last time, really felt like an extension of my real family; a certain fun loving, green/blue-eyed boy who made me laugh simply by looking at me and saying “thanks for it” and who made me realize that having no emotions means you miss out on, well, life.

And so I’ve seen that goodbyes, in any language, just plain suck. But I’ve also come to learn that the deeper the pit in your stomach, the harder it is to fight back the tears as you walk away from the car and the more you find a smile creeping onto your face simply at the mention of a word that makes you think of “that time in Aix,” the more worth it those relationships are. It’s the stories, the too many bottles (or boxes!) of rosé, the Thursdays where you got sucked into the abyss of RoMarc’s apartment and didn’t wander out until 5am – all the while wondering “how did we stay that for that long?”; the games of “Never Have I Ever” where you really never have had a ménage-a-dix with an entire fraternity; the massive 4 scoops of gelato ice cream on the Cours Mirabeau simply because “well, we had a hard day, right?” It’s Crêpes A-Go-Go every Tuesday or seeing half of the AUCP at Book-in-Bar at any given point, at any given hour, on any given day, probably drinking tea and eating a scone; it’s talking ourselves into random purchases because, well, pourquoi pas?..then again, it’s justifying just about anything with pourquoi pas?! It’s been an envie d’ailleurs and an envie de revenir; swearing to a Sober Oktober only to jump right back into a glass of wine because, bien sûr, you can’t say no to Martine and Didier.

And as I sit here at my computer, I can’t even pick apart my memories because they all seem too fresh to harvest – to separate and put into words, into descriptions on a computer screen – they just seem like yesterday. So my stories, my mini-escapades will stay as one big film reel of souvenirs for a few days more…I have an 8 hour plane ride, after all, to sort through them. But I do see now that it’s true: It’s better to have loved. Every song ends, but we can still enjoy the music. We do things for the rush, the thrill, the story. If for nothing else, we do it for the experience. And I’m happy to have had this one, no matter how hard it is to leave.

The Real World: Aix-En-Provence

I’ve always said that I would never want to be the last roommate to leave the house on The Real World. And so when I realized yesterday that I would be one of the last AUCP’ers to leave Aix this weekend (only to return and be toute seule aussi!) I suddenly began to sympathize with Snooki and all the last ones who came before her. Regardless, being last has made me start thinking about goodbyes. And a hard, sad, tear-filled goodbye it will be. But I can’t help but think its not all bad. That pit in your stomach means you’re saying goodbye to something that was worth having, worth cultivating, worth smiling and crying at at the same time. Now, coming from me, these sentences must be shocking. Afterall, I’m the person who truly believes that emotional separation from other members of the human race is the best way to avoid sadness – and trust me, goodbyes are made easier.

But I’ve come to see that this belief is, well, dumb. I adore the people I’ve met here. In fact, I owe most of them huge thank you’s for opening my eyes to the world around me. I’ve (re)learned that you can, and should, let people in and that being dark and twisty can also be coupled with lots of bright moments filled with laughter and smiles. And from this lesson, I’ve gained the most wonderful souvenirs of the people who have been here in Aix with me. I’ll even go so far as to say this: I don’t HATE christmas and I have emotions. God that was difficult. But I now find myself in the same place as when I got here: eyes teary, next to my desk, sweatpants on, bags half-packed, squinting at a screen writing this entry bc (after 4 months of trying) I still have no internet in my little bedroom corner of Provence. Save for this time, I’m crying for a different reason, my desk has had many nights of studying upon it, and my eyes have seen the most amazing 4 months that I never even imagined.

So I may be leaving…but only for a short while! And with this weather, maybe not at all. If European blizzards have nothing to say about it, I’m off to Paris tomorrow, Switzerland til Friday and then Aix on Monday! And while it’ll be weird to not call Audrey or Laura or Jamie or anyone else to boire une verre on the Cours with me, I’ll have my family here and I guess some French kid to keep me company 🙂

“Prenez un peu de distance…”

And it’s when you look at things from far away that it’s easier to appreciate them. For me, it’s taken being far away from Tulane to realize just how many great things there are about it: the city in general, but more importantly the people that make it the wonderful, living, breathing thing I’m so in love with. Now, this is not a bearing on France – this place is wonderful and has done well by me – but I’m coming to see that there’s just something about a Tulane Student state of mind that is just impossible to recreate anywhere else and in any other group of people. And it’s for that that, while it’s going to be a tearful good-bye to Aix and the people who have lived it with me, I couldn’t be more excited to go back to a place where – no matter how tired you are – Thursday means F&Ms, Friday means Happy Hour, Saturday means any and all of the above and Sundays bring a day of PJs coffee, Favori’s, home work and the return to being a real human being for the next 4(ish) days (no matter what).

Happy November 25th!

That’s right readers, it’s Thanksgiving. In celebration of this American holiday that my current country has really no idea what it’s all about – someone even had to clarify “you eat turkey, right?” – I’m sporting the All-American I’m-From-NY look. Yup, you guessed it: tall Uggs, tucked into jeans with a ratty, old, torn, should-never-be-worn-in-public-B’Cliff Bears Football sweatshirt. Hey, a girl’s gotta rep her country.

That being said, I’m going to take a turn to slight more serious town and say that while it’s weird actually having classes over this time of holiday cheer, it’s even weirder not being able to spend it with the people who matter most to me – especially when all I want to do is attack my sister with hugs, kissses and assorted Green Wave apparel to congratulate her on her recent admission to Tulane. I honestly could not be prouder and no matter what she decides, I’m behind her 1,000%. AUCP, my program here, is trying to make this not-home-for-the-holidays experience slightly more homey by hosting a Thanksgiving dinner here tomorrow night, so I do get to celebrate with some turkey and 106 of my closest fellow French-speaking Americans and their host families and friends. But there’s something to be said for my grandma’s old recipe of cranberry sauce where she’d always manage to slip ever so slightly on the amount of alcohol she put into the bowl. (Yes, she put alcohol in her cranberry sauce. Yes, that’s what drew me to taste it in the first place.) My mind right now is winding back the calendar pages as it focuses its blurry lens more closely on the Thanksgiving’s that have come before this…the smells of Aunt Lisa’s corn bread which always cause me to lie belly up on the couch, more full than you ever want to be, swearing I’ll never eat again; the sounds of football fans cheering on TV as their favorite quarterback throws a TD deep into the right corner of the endzone (well, unless you’re a Giants fan – then it’s probably just Eli throwing an interception); the little things that remind us of Grandma as we throw stories back and forth across the table, overflowing with steaming plates and smells; the fact that when I look to my right, left, across, even down when Mishu finds his way under the dining room table, I know that I’m home.

I’m so thankful for this experience here in France, it’s something some people only dream of doing let alone actually get the chance to do. But it’s also made me so much more appreciative of what I’ve left behind: good friends, great family and memories that are as much a part of this holiday as is the turkey and stuffing that give it it’s commercial edge and cheer. It’s important to remember on this day of thanks, the words of JFK: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” And so now that I’ve uttered a couple of hundred words, I’m going to go try to live by them, regardless of how far I am from the people who I love the most. Love and miss you, family and friends! I send thousands of kisses, hugs and French amour from my little desk in Aix-en-Provence.