Finally, after a morning of coffee with Joe (our new Sunday tradition that gets me through the week) & an early afternoon of baking & preparation of this weeks’ soup & consumption of leftovers, I’m feeling a bit more calm.
After our coffee, we hopped next door to a cooking supply store. My heart skipped at their collection of Le Creuset goodies. It took more than a year (& more than five minutes for me to decide on a color), but we finally got our wedding Dutch oven. (Thanks, Angela!!) I’m so happy to have it for the fall & winter, & I have a long list of French recipes to get going on, from boeuf bourguinon to another poulet rôti and pain à l’ancienne.
There has been a lot going on in my head lately. It happens at least once a year–the feeling like walls are closing in on me, like I’m trapped, like I’m in a haze & can’t fully connect to what’s happening around me. Like all I want to do is sleep & eat the overpriced Reese’s cups I got to fill our plastic cauldron.
I’ve been in Bloomington, a town I’ve already come to love & respect for so many reasons, for less than three months, but I find myself needing some sort of escape route. I listen to my friends talk about their upcoming adventures in the Peace Corps, their former adventures in AmeriCorps. I reflect on our time in France & the odds of us finding a way to get ourselves back to the tiny country with such a big belly for life.
We were having a casual conversation about our time there the other day. The second I turned the calendar to November, my mind switched to holiday-planning, & I was replaying scenes from our first Christmas together, locked away in a one-room apartment halfway around the world. How different everything will be, moving through the holidays as a married couple among many in our families!
Then, I began replaying all the other moments. The walks to cafés. The croissants that leave my hands greasy with butter. The prayers in Mass coming at me in another language but still feeling like home.
Words have begun slipping from my vocabulary–English words. And when no one is around to make me speak aloud, my synapses move through scattered French conversations. Getting a coffee with Joe last weekend, I saw a sign for the wine that has come to summarized that year for me, Gewürztraminer. I see necklaces with dangling Eiffel Towers.
To give myself a break from the holiday reading Joe & I are doing together, & to indulge in my wanderlust, I picked up The Diving Bell & The Butterfly for the weekend. Countless moments in the memoir have moved me to tears–through his struggle, his tenderness for his family & country and, quite selfishly, through the memories it brings back to my mind as well.
Yesterday, I attended a food sustainability conference (a post for another day this week). It was wonderful to spend an afternoon surrounded by people who share a commitment to sustainable agriculture & food systems, wonderful to remind myself why we chose to be here for the next stage of our budding life together. I was inspired, re-centered & somewhat re-energized for my classes. Maybe this has all been an end-of-the-semester phase? Maybe it’s the frustration of realizing how much of my education I’ll have to pave my own way for (as my program has limited options for the issue of food)?
Joe & I still have 2.5 years in this tiny town, to continue learning from it & taking all that we can from it to make ourselves into the sort of family we’re trying to be. It’s a great training ground for sustainable living. We have so much to look forward to, so much to be happy we’ve done & so much to embrace as it’s coming along right now…
…so I’m embracing the images of Mansard roofs that flash through my mind, the summer travel possibilities, the promises we’re making to ourselves, the “croissants” at the town bakeries, the daily struggle through public management & statistics courses, the lust for the narrow streets along the Seine. If all of my pear slices can fit in the fold of my freshly made pâté brisée, then all of the wishes & possibilities can stay tucked inside this flesh for the time being.