a long way home
Knowing this, my step is lighter and my gaze is further off.
I can already smell the old wood of our crumbling house, feel my feet climbing up its steep wood steps, and hear the pigeons outside my window.
From the airport, we’ll drive out of the city and into the country. We’ll pass fields of sunflowers and old farm houses, vineyards and homes selling foie gras. We’ll drive down roads with perfectly aligned trees, and as we turn a sharp corner I’ll see it through the leaves. I’ll see my village, still standing strong and tall, atop of a hill, the houses left the same way they were hundreds of years ago.
France is whispering my name. The small village in the South of France where I went to school at 4-years-old, then came back to time and time again, is waiting for me.
The Patisserie door is waiting to be opened by my hands first thing in the morning, eager to get the croissants while they’re hot out of the oven. It will smell the same, and the woman at the counter will recognize me from years gone by, but will only let me know with a smile. If it’s her husband, he may make a joke or correct my French as he connects the image of a four-year-old blonde Canadian, who used to run around the village square, with the woman standing before him.
The stern owner of the bar will say hello if he’s in a good mood, or will nod in approval if he’s not, then continue yelling at the servers. The barman might smile too, or wait until his night off, when a couple of beers have brought out his social nature, and he’ll make some jokes under his heavy brown mustache.
At the market the foie gras merchant will yell provocative comments at my mother, the pizza man will smile his charming smile, and maybe make some jokes about me keeping my hands of his handome sons. We'll buy food fresh from the soil and the meals will be deliciously easy.
I’m dreaming of France and I can’t help it. Throughout my life, I have had the fortune of visiting this country time and time again, and it is my second home. It is a place I’ve associated with happiness, self-discovery, young love, and minor heartaches.
When I walk down the old country roads, blonde hair waving behind me, feet dirty from being outside all day, I often break into a run, and fall right back into my childhood self. Old women will stop me and recognize me from when I was younger, “Ah, Gigi!” They will exclaim.
Walking those roads my body and mind grow stronger and the important things in life become more clear.
In a few weeks I’ll meet my mother there. Until then, I’ll continue daydreaming.
Ode to France Nicoise Salad
Handful of mixed greens
Steamed green beans with red onion
Hard boiled egg
Corn on the cob (although they would laugh at this is France, where corn left on the cob is only for cows)
Dash of olive oil and red wine vinegar
Tuna (Callipo Italian brand, soaked in olive oil)