Oh me, oh my I am finally here. The worst quarter of my life (well, most stressful) is OVER. Not sure how I did academically, but it's pretty hard to care about that since I worked my ass off until it nearly fell off, and I am in bread-cheese-salami-wine land. It's magnificent to be here. I feel like I am myself again, which is strange considering I am two oceans and several thousand miles away from home. I was not enjoying the perpetually stressed out person I had become toward the end of the quarter. I couldn't truly enjoy much of anything because I was always thinking about what needed to be taken care of. I felt more displaced in the town in which I live than I do as an anonymous wanderer in a small French city (Poitiers).
So the whole not knowing French thing IS actually an issue. Imagine that. I sort of thought it would just...come together haha, which sounds kind of ridiculous, but alas. In Paris between my very limited French vocabulary and the decent English vocabulary of many Parisians, and JOEL my linguistic saving grace, I did OK. Lots of smiling and nodding, but not bad. In Poitiers people do not speak English and they talk to me with a look on their face like, seriously? Nothin? Half-amused, a quarter sorry for me and a quarter judgmental. Which is just fine. My first self-imposed exercise was attempting to order food at Speed Burger, a nearby joint that sells way more than any burger joint I've ever seen. Donuts and cookies are on the menu! Anyway, I wrote down what I was going to say and confidently began to execute it. Minor issue I did not account for- the responses! I had my part down(ish) but the whole them saying things back thing was problematic. It was a fail in so many ways, and I sort of panicked and said I didn't want burgers and a sympathetic Joel and friends took over. Sigh. But it's getting better! I bought pastries successfully yesterday, with proper bonjour's and au revoir's and pointing, and I was so pleased with myself, and my GOD were they fantastic! 5 euros for heaven? Um yeahhhhh.
The food is awesome. We have different kinds of cheese, veggies, rice, baguettes, homemade soup, and stuff to drink and that is pretty much it, and it totally works. Living together in a tiny studio is really fun!!! We still have lots of time to possibly drive each other crazy but I am optimistic it's not going to happen. We looked at each other last night and I said, "man you're gonna be getting a lot of Kim." And Joel said, "and lady, you're gonna be getting a lot of Joel." And we nodded our heads and smiled at each other. Joel is...exemplary. He is ceaselessly interesting, extremely caring, and has this tremendous balancing effect on me that I have rarely, if ever, experienced from another human being. My anxious tendencies dissipate and I can actually relax.
When I arrived I had gotten 4 hours of sleep in three days, and I was sort of delirious and painfully apathetic. I didn't care where we went or how we got there, I just stared at everything and held Joel's hand. I apologized that he is getting a crappy version of Kim, a Kim who has not recovered from finals and bronchitis and a lack of space and calm. I explained that I could not really speak more than I felt inclined (no small talk), or plan/organize, or do anything more than...this. He assured me that I am just fine, and he does not expect anything, but just wants me to feel comfortable and happy. And I have been. Joel is in school for most of the day, and I enjoy my own company and silence, both of which I sorely need. I read lots, clean, eat, walk around, contemplate, allow myself to not contemplate and just space out... What a life. Far cry from a week ago, holy moly.
In a week and a half we start our big 10 day journey through Paris, Amsterdam, Munich, Vienna and Switzerland, then back up to Paris where we fly home to Portland. It will certainly be insane so I am making sure to rest up for the big journey. Wandering around and taking everything in is the perfect mode of operating right now.
*Well I'm sure you are wondering, where the hell are pictures? I am not too on top of the photos but I will put some up soon I promise! Here is a link that has some info about Poitiers (lots of churches!)- http://www.sacred-destinations.com/france/poitiers*