I'm back from a great weekend in Paris with the Earlham kids! It was so uber-wonderful to see my close friends again, and I was grateful that they "looked after" me, speaking French so that I wouldn't have to make nasty, pidgeon attempts. The best part is that I have definite plans to see both of them again: one before Christmas in Vienna, the other next spring when he comes back to the UK. It is always, always sad to say goodbye, but so much easier when you know that another visit is already planned. Plus, it has been decided that another dear friend will be coming at the end of January...I love that I'm not even being allowed to get homesick between visits from friends! This friend gives absolutely the best hugs of anyone I know, something I'm looking forward to in the land-of-no-hugs.
In some ways, though, it was a bit odd this weekend. I loved seeing my friends, hanging with the Earlhamites, etc., but I did realize two things. 1) I've adapted fairly well to being out of undergrad. I think my situation has really made the distinction between undergrads and former undergrads very clear. I was sad to graduate from Earlham, but it really was time for me to move on. Don't get me wrong, I love being a "kid" again, but I can simultaneously feel the distance from those days.
2) I realize how well I've adapted to life in London over just the last couple of weeks. I think that the turning point was sometime after Muppet stopped through London the second time. It was sort of a realization that this is my life now, that I can't simply keep turning to old friends, but that I had to find a community here in which to belong if I was ever going to be happy and sucessful in this degree. I feel like I've done that recently, which is so amazingly wonderful. At the same time, it felt a little weird to be going "back" to Earlham...a chapter of my life that I feel like I've been able to bring closure to in recent days. I'm lucky, I think, because I've got another community to take EC's place.
Alright. Enough of that. Paris rocked! It snowed when we were atop the Eiffel Tower and then even more the next day at Versailles. Actually, we'd gotten to the glassed in part of the top of the Eiffel Tower and noticed this gigantic cloud coming at us from one direction. We ran upstairs (outside) to see the view before it was obscured and then waited in the freezing cold until the cloud surrounded us and started snowing! You couldn't even see the ground at that point, but it was so much fun to be that high and right in the middle of the snow!
The "Cloud of Justice" moves in....
Afterwards, though, there was a fantastic light. You could even see the Tower's shadow on the dense air. This was my favorite:
And we even managed a 45 minute trip to the Louvre, on free night. It worked because I only wanted to see four things, all in the Mesopotamia gallery that had been closed the last time that I went to the museum. So, check these off: the victory stele of Narum-Sin, the lamashu from Persia, Gudea's statues, and the Code of Hammurabi! I was a very happy puppy! Still could have spent longer, but I'm totally spoiled by Britain's free museums.
The next day was the Earlham class trip to Versailles. Two people took turns translating for me, which was great. The Hall of Mirrors was completely covered this time for the renovation, instead of only half as it was last Christmas. At least I wasn't disappointed because I knew what to expect. Afterwards, there was a massive snowball fight in the gardens and a snowman was built. Please meet Francoise Pierre Escargot le Premier and a bunch of Earlhamites:
Evan awesomer were all the tourists who stopped to take a picture of him, too. And the fact that one of the builders actually had a carrot with her, in her bag. Randomness! That night we went to vespers in Notre Dame, which was beautiful and smelled nice.
I'm going to give props (unsurprisingly) to French food. There were crepes, Senegalese food, Vietnamese, cheese, baguettes, and putin (the Quebec "specialty," according to my favorite Canadian)...all of which were great. Oh, and pan au chocolat. Yum! I don't think I've eaten more food since I've been in Europe, these past months. Needless to say, I brought back cheese, chocolate, and wine. And, in the wine department, yay for finding Chinon, which I really liked at Christmas but haven't been able to find anywhere in the US or the UK since then. Sunday, after doing this grocery shopping and having a cold picnic with the girl I stayed with, I met up with friends at Sacre Coeur. Their service involved singing nuns, which was so beautiful. I loved wandering Paris with such good friends, especially when the French people made fun of us for taking a photo under the hammer and sickle that make up the Aeroflot logo:
Oh, guys, you made me laugh so hard!
No worries, though, I still love London best.