We just got home a few hours ago. Because of the rain, the choice was a slightly earlier flight home...or perhaps no flight at all for the next couple days! We took the early flight. It's getting rainy over there, too, and we've already seen much too much of the LaGuardia airport. We were delayed for hours on Friday night because of the rain. It's so weird that we're in early evening here now, because we left Toulouse in the late afternoon. It looks like the flight just took a couple hours and feels like, well, a lot longer than a couple hours. And my head hurts. And L'Ailee's asleep already. And the entire Northeast just needs to be wrung out!
The trip was very good, although very short. That's our usual pattern anyway: take a tiny dip in a place, like it, keep coming back, get to know it. At any rate, doing that for Toulouse would improve my French. L'Ailee was sorry we couldn't go to Paris at first, but Toulouse won her over. It was sunny and hilly and slow, and we needed all those things. We were just so blissfully unplugged!!! Our only obligation was the wedding. All we knew about the news was that there was a hell of a lot of rain in the Northwest, because people kept telling us they hoped our home would be okay.
We did not go to Grasse. We did not surf. We did not like our hotel very much. We did participate in a very nice wedding and cheer our friends on. Just walking all over Toulouse was nice. It's a great town to walk around in, with so many interesting little places waiting to be discovered! We also managed to do a lot of shopping. The SF Gate article about what I could and could not bring back was most helpful. Chocolate, cheese, wine, oil, jam...it all went back with us. So did a lot of perfume and cosmetics. Country French food is very light and uncomplicated, not like the heavy, saucy stuff in American "French" restaurants. We enjoyed that, too.
We were told French people would be rude, but then in Toulouse, we were told that that's only in Paris, which is "different." I was told that NYC would be rude, and encountered mostly friendly people. I did get a relative of JC's wanting to argue about the war with me, but I managed to say that I was also against it and I didn't wish to discuss it. The people we encountered were very patient as I labored to get French words out, and often I'd have conversations in Franglish and pantomime. L'Ailee's spoken French is so much better than mine, so she became our spokeswoman. It was a very odd experience for us both, but an interesting one. Everyone guessed me to be American right off; L'Ailee kept saying, "Je suis russe et americaine."
We are not wearing cute little matching berets, Blogzie, but we did spend a lot of time in cute little sundresses. L'Ailee crowed, "No spandex!" as she packed. She gets so tired of the jock-wear she needs working at the gym. I was happy to be out of secretarial drag, and joyfully packed only one pair of pantyhose (for the co-matron-of-honor dress.) We even held hands, with a few stares but almost no comments (at least to our faces.)
All in all, it was nice to be there, and will be nice to be there longer, and is nice to be home.
I came home to something great in the mail--a two-page letter about his Fresh Air Fund camp from my 8-year-old TutorBoy! It was like pulling hen's teeth to get him to write last year, and now he's regaling me with paragraphs about animals and double-chocolate breakfasts (Cocoa Puffs and chocolate milk) and hiking! Very, very cool.
But they grow up, and we also came home to an ethical dilemma. We hired two girls, a 15-year-old graduate of L'Ailee's gymnastics class to water the plants and a 16-year-old from around the way to feed our animals. Plants and animals seem to have been taken care of. But stupid here didn't think to lock up the alcohol, and my rum and screw-top wine are almost completely gone. I *never* leave a glass' worth, ever--it goes rancid that way. And then...
Well, my computer was clearly used. The history was wiped, and some of the settings are different. A few neighbors have waylaid us to let us know that the girls "stayed in there for, like, hours" on Saturday, and kept meeting up and staying for the past few days. Apparently they made a connection--we don't think they knew each other. One of them identifies as bi; the other, we didn't know about. At least one of our, um, instruction manuals is missing, and the others look like they've been moved, as do our CDs. L'Ailee remarked upon the smell of freshly-washed sheets when she went to bed; I did not launder the sheets before we left. So apparenly the girls used our place as a trystatorium. At least they stayed out of the toybox while they were replicating that scene in Annie On My Mind.
We know what it's like to be young, in love or something, and tempted by opportunity and free time. Hell, I dimly remember this one time when we were just barely into our twenties, and I was closing down the mom-and-pop sub shop where I worked all by myself, and L'Ailee stayed behind after all the customers left to "help", and....karma is a kick in the ass sometimes, I'll tell you. If nothing else, we have to tell the parents about the alcohol, I think, and I have learned a lesson about locking it up! They're coming for the other half of their payments tomorrow. This is gonna be *fun*, I can tell already.