As I get older, I realize that I am somehow reverting back to my childhood in one way or another. Most recently I've become more and more intolerant of long car rides, and I try to avoid them at all costs. I just don't like being in the car! To be honest, I never really have, ever since I was a little girl, but I have vivid memories of the dreaded two-hour (!!) drive to the countryside where we would go camping with my grandparents. Today, of course, a two-hour trip seems like nothing, but it certainly creeped by in the backseat of that beastly hot car, my thighs clinging to the burning material of the seats (not leather, but not plastic -- pleather?!). Even when I drove my own car in Washington, DC, I didn't really enjoy it -- the only part I liked was turning up my favorite music and singing along. But most of the time I was just in a big hurry to get to where I was going, from point A to point B. Which I guess explains the fact that I've never had any particular affinity for cars of any kind, and that I could honestly care less if I never drove again. Unfortunately, I imagine I'm probably not going to be able to get around the need to drive at some point, especially if we end up leaving la région parisienne... A possibility, but not yet a certainty.
Saturday my boyfriend and I took a train from Paris to Le Havre to meet his father, and thankfully we spent the night at his house before hitting the road at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning. We drove with his father down to Besançon, where my boy's younger sister and her little family lives. I slept for the first few hours, but had a heck of a time getting into a comfortable position in the backseat. Again, memories from childhood... I know I was lucky to not have to take the wheel, to be honest, because I don't even think I could have handled it. I still haven't prepared for the permis de conduire here, and I know it's something that will eventually be unavoidable. But in the meantime, I just try to be patient when the drive is long and sleep the time away... When lunchtime hit, my boyfriend and his father were both inspired: they decided to make a detour to Vézélay, a village in the Burgundy region with a stunning basilica at the top of a steep hill. I had already been there once before, but was more than happy to visit again -- after a stop for lunch, of course! We were lucky enough to fall on a really nice local bistrot-restaurant called Le Voutenay on the small départémental leading to Vézélay, in a tiny town called Voutenay-sur-Cure. After a brief mix-up in which we managed to find ourselves seated at the gastronomic side of the restaurant, we glanced at the menu, realized our mistake -- and quickly rectified it!
After settling into our seats in a small, simple room on the other side of the restaurant (the "bistrot" side, as they called it), we chose our dishes and were chatting quietly when we noticed that one of the women at the table next to ours had gotten up to open up the curtains in order to allow some sun into the room, which was admittedly a bit dark. Apparently the waitress forewarned her to be careful, but alas -- a bit too late! As the curtain rod tumbled to the floor, the woman quickly jumped out of the way. My boyfriend's father jumped up to give her a hand, and the scene soon became comedic: as the lady climbed up onto a chair to put the curtain rod back in place, Jacques held onto the chair for her to stabilize it. The curtain rod started falling again, and just as it looked like the woman might fall herself, Jacques took hold of her around the waist and helped her lift the rod back into place... My boyfriend and I glanced at each other, our mouths open, a bit speechless at Jacques' bravado and spontaneity. My boyfriend couldn't imagine doing the same thing if he had been in his father's position, and he attributed it to the fact that his father was a doctor and wasn't uncomfortable about grabbing a perfect stranger like that, even if he thought it was to give her a hand (mind you, I don't think she would have fallen -- she wasn't really in danger, but Jacques just did what he thought was right in the moment). But there there was definitely an impetuous element to his gesture. And we all tried to laugh off the moment of discomfort... (It seriously felt like a scene from a sitcom.)
Of course, the woman's husband had been absent during the early part of the incident, as he must have gone off to the bathroom. And he showed up right at the critical moment, when Jacques was giving his wife a hand -- so to speak! He didn't look too pleased, but his wife kept joking about it, brushing things off and saying she felt "flattered" by Jacques' attention and assistance... And ironically, she was American! My boyfriend leaned over and told me to chat with her (something he often does in situations like this) and I felt a bit awkward, particularly after the curtain rod incident. So he asked her where she was from, and we did end up talking for a few minutes about our origins, how long we had been living in France, etc... But I didn't want to drag on the conversation and figured it was best to allow everyone to enjoy their meal. The funny thing is, the subject kept coming back up while we were eating, and my boyfriend and his father persisted in talking about it, while I kept trying to change the subject. "What are you planning on getting for dessert?" I must have asked at least a half a dozen times... The woman's husband then decided he wanted to make an example of me, kind of the "ignorant American just arriving in France," I guess, and he proceeded to ask me if I knew what he was eating... I guess he was trying to be funny, or friendly, or something, but I don't really like those kinds of things, particularly coming from a complete stranger. I would have thought he would have known better, after being married to an American fo 40 years! He went on to say that it was "tête de veau" and implied, with his tone of voice, that it was something he knew an American would never eat. I just brushed it off, said I had chosen duck myself, and told him to enjoy his meal. But underneath I was boiling...
Well, after that déjeuner mouvementé, we drove on to Vézélay, walked up the hill to visit the basilica, and then walked back down to the car. We didn't linger for very long, as it was pretty chilly outside (to say the least!) and we were all anxious to arrive in Besançon. I thought the second half of the trip would be much shorter, but unfortunately I didn't end up sleeping much at all, and we didn't make it to his sister's house until nearly 8:00. I didn't realize they lived right across the street from the village church, which was a nice touch -- I love hearing church bells chime throughout the day!
We've been having a nice, quiet Christmas together, and I've taken a few photos, which I hope to eventually post here on the blog (I've also baked a ton of cookies!). But the next few days are going to be hectic, as my boyfriend and I are taking a train back up to Paris tomorrow morning, and then I will be flying to the U.S. on Thursday to visit my family for New Year's. So I may be "out of commission", so to speak, for a few weeks... Then again, I just realized that this is my first post in almost three weeks anyway, so I guess that's nothing new! I'm going to do my best to become a more consistent blogger in 2008 -- we'll see how long I stick to that resolution.
And on that note, I shall leave you, all my dear friends throughout the blogosphere, and wish you a very Merry Christmas (If you celebrate, of course! Happy holidays to everyone in any case!)... See you in the New Year!