it’s sunday. you know what that means. it means that i have been renewed, restored, and have remembered, if only in part, why i am so blessed to be here. it means that i walked to the marché with caitlin in the fall sunshine, watched the market-goers meander. i saw my favourite honey guy, who recognizes me each week, and i told him how his honey was enjoyed by all who tried it back in canada (more on that later). it means that i purchased some chèvre-stuffed peppers, and some more caviar de tomate (i keep meaning to try something new, but it’s just so good…). it means that i had un noisette on a café patio and people-watched the ever-entertaining french.
cait and i had a late breakfast at a new restaurant/café in the market square. it’s called “le pain quotidien” which means “the daily bread.” it’s a really cool, entirely organic place that serves simple gourmet breakfast, brunch and lunch. reminds me a bit of pan cafe in st. catharines, except french, and with a more expansive menu (incidentally, probably not more expEnsive, which is a welcome surprise). while we were enjoying our oeuf and organic sourdough bread in the sunshine, one of the servers from our other local haunt, “l’unic” (not to be confused with “l’eunuch”!) passed our table and said hello. cait and i both agreed that it felt so great to actually have a ‘place’ that we go to regularly and where the servers know us now. heck he even knows i order a noisette every time (just for your reference, un noisette is a macchiato – espresso with a dollop of steamed milk and foam).
while walking back i had a little ‘stop and smell the roses’ moment. aix may be small, and très très chère, but it IS beautiful. i have yet to be able to capture this in photo-format (brandon? where are you when i need you??). every time i pass a cross-street, i have to stop and look down it – and mind the fountain on the way. the old buildings and the cobblestone, the wrought-iron bars at the base of each window, the ivy falling down the sides of old walls, and the tall trees at the end of the street, often framing the steeple of some 16th or 17th century cathedral… it really is another world here. in all of this, however, i still feel like a foreigner. i described it to caitlin as a museum goer gazing at a painting. sure it’s beautiful, but i will never be inside the painting, never inside the mind of the artist. i will never go inside those buildings, or know who lives there. i won’t visit the lawyer or chiropractor who works behind this or that old, carved wooden door. i probably won’t ever water the petit olive tree on the window sill. i am forever a foreigner here, always looking, admiring, but never quite fitting in. it’s surreal, really.
it did feel different, though, familiar even, coming back here after an intense and whirlwind tour back to niagara for a one jacqueline dueck’s wedding. she had asked me to be a bridesmaid in her october 10th wedding to her now husband peter hoff back when they were first engaged. after much humming and hawing and even a preliminary dress-shopping trip, i heart-achingly told her i would not be able to come back from france to be there. and at the time, that was true. however, mid-way through september i made a split decision to fly in, in an attempt to surprise her. it almost worked, had she not seen the revised program with my name added the day before the rehearsal. so when alex and i showed up at the church for the rehearsal friday night, she acted surprised but not enough to fool me. it was incredible none the less, and it absolutely was the right decision to come back. i wouldn’t have wanted to miss her day for anything (we HAVE known each other since we were 2, afterall). the wedding was a blast, and so beautiful. she looked incredible, and watching pete hardly keep it together as she walked down the aisle made me extremely glad i had a tissue tucked in my dress (i won’t tell you where). for photos of the day and my trip, see my flickr site!
other than the limo driver picking us bridesmaids up to take us to the church a half-hour late, the day went off without a hitch (save for that of pete and jacq. har har), and also flew by ridiculously fast. i had arrived wednesday night, and i left monday evening, arriving back in aix tuesday evening. in the short amount of time that i was home, i hardly stopped, hardly slept, and hardly had any time to see everyone i wanted to see. i did manage to (truly) surprise a few friends (leah, erik, heather, tim, carianne?). and i managed to have an amazing dinner at stone road, a fabulous breakfast at the bleu turtle, two incredible breakfasts and a dinner from my wonderful mother, and myriad other unforgettable moments in between. i even worked (volunteered?) a day back at ravine since my chauffeur couldn’t get the day off…
now i’m back, with no further intentions to hop across the ocean until the end of my time here. my ‘homecoming’ was bittersweet, as home felt so right, so comfortable, yet coming back also felt right, and my friends here really are amazing (they think i’m amazing too, but probably only because i came bearing a 1.14litre smirnoff bottle full of real canadian maple syrup, and 3 bottles of wine! although all that really means is that alex is amazing as all those things came from him…).
so, back into it i go. only this time around it’s fall and i need a jacket and a scarf.