Wednesday, November 9, 2011

a lil picnic under a family tree

Yesterday, we celebrated another birthday. Charolette was turning 18. It's the biggest birthday celebrated here in france. Michele, the same guy who had thrown me a birthday had made sure we all knew that Tuesday night was scheduled for Charolette.
I walked up to the last floor which has become the room where this family at 6 cours du 14 Julliet has been forming. Michele had bought christmas lights. He was again sporting the tightest french rugby shirt ever fabricated in a chinese sweat shop. He let me know that we were having a Bretagne themed party for Charolette. Bretagne is in the northwest of france and i work with about 5 others at my school who are from there. Michele is from there as well.They must like to breed a lot of people and send them to Paris.
The table was set with some purple flowers in the middle of the table.
The menu consisted of crepes and cider. Michele was making jambon, oeuf, et fromage crepes. Everyone started making there way upstairs one by one. Charolette walked up the stairs with her her grandmother. Charolette had told me her grandmother was coming and i would love here since she was bringing champagne. ( ok, side note: so i have been collecting all the wine bottles i've had from just dinner or parties and they are in my room. i'm not sure why i'm keeping them. I guess i'm having a mild case of hoarder syndrome. I can't get rid of my babies haha.Anyway, william came into my room and saw the bottles and has been calling me an alcoholic ever since. I'm not exactly sure why some jokes stick and others fall off but this was definitely was laced with super glue. Everyone has jumped on board and i'm the new "alcoholic american" (insert french laugh). Thanks William.)

Oh you're grandmother is bringing champagne? How nice.

Yeah, all i knew the alcoholic like you would love it! (insert laugh)

Yeah, like i said. Not sure i get myself into theses things. But i don't feel like this joke is going away soon. So lets just take a shot and run with it :p

Anyway, so we all set at the table. I sat across from Grandma, Martine. She was a sweet woman in her early 60s. She had such an adorable laugh. Charolette's family is from the South and her grandmother had a strong accent. The accent is ironically twangy like the southern accent in the states. For example, pain in Parisien french sounds like "pehn" but in a souther accent it sounds like "paing." It is honestly very noticeable when spoken.
I poked a little fun at the accent and the grandmother took a Dixie Chick stand to defend her accent and said it's REAL FRENCH. Parisiens give southerns a lot of crap about their accent.
Some things are universal eh?

I transitioned into a little story about  boy who grew up in the south and couldn't rid "y'all" out of his vocabulary and moved to the big apple for a summer and heard tons of crap about his southern accent.
I was trying to draw the comparison that I was in fact on the same team as here. Even though i was technically a "yankee" in my accent and lived  in Paris, i would always be a southerner in my heart."

Grandma liked this and poured me another glass of Cider and we toasted to southern culture.

There were 3 bottles of cider on the table and i got a little lesson on how all cider in france comes from the northwest (normandy and bretagne) and thats why we were drinking it tonight.

Michele had brought out his CD collection and put on a french group singing some kind of high tempoed celtic sound. I can't describe it better than that. Emma and I stared at each other with wide eyes as we saw every french person at the table (grandma included) singing along and swaying their heads and tapping their hands on the table. This was apparently a famous song. A chorus of voices filled the air  and made it all the way through the chorus before laughter commenced at Emma's and my face. Then a two minute debate between Michele and Grandma ensued over which singer had had the affair with that model.
"No no, it was the lead singer."
"I'm positive, it was the shorter guy with the beard."
Their debated faded into the noise and i guess i'll never know who had the affair with that model. Kind of felt like home.

All of a sudden, Michele got up and changed the CD and dedicated the next songs to me.

"Oh lord," i thought, "I hope this is note a ballad for alcoholics."

I was wrong. It was classic country.

Michele tried to talk to me about Hank Williams and Patsy Cline but i disappointed him with my lack of knowledge. "Michele these singers are like the founding fathers and mothers of country. They are classics yes but very old. This is not the country i grew up on."

I think I blew his mind.

With Bing Crosby in the background, I sat there across from Grandma Martine and Charolette and watched how Charolette leaned into her grandmother with her laughter and Grandma kissed her head. "You're my beautiful granddaughter." Even though we had formed our only little family here with the misfits of 18 to 45 years olds. Seeing the bond of a grandmother and granddaughter almost took my breath away. Their eyes were set at the same place and both had higher cheek bones. Grandma's hair was no longer jet black like her granddaughter but had turned into a salt and pepper blanket of wisdom.
I swallowed hard and appreciated the moment but missed my grandmother, and my family for that matter.

I'm so grateful for the friends i've made here but nothing matches the touch of your family. A hug, a pinch, a kiss. Someone who you can sit next to and not care if you're legs are touching. I could use a swing on my family tree right about now :)

It was time for cake and candles and happy birthdays. Farida lit the cake and we turned off the lights and she paraded the cake across the kitchen singing "happy birSday to you" in her french accent. Charolette blew out her candles and we split the enormous black forrest cake.

I closed my eyes and thought about my sister who had her birthday the day before. Not saying anything out loud to take away from charolette, i sent out a little thought across the atlantic back to my sister that i was having a little cake for her.

No comments:

Post a Comment