01 June 2010

France jour 6 - saying goodbye, and saying hello





The strangest part of online friendships is when the opportunity presents itself to actually meet someone you have "known" for some time. Maybe you have talked on the phone, exchanged endless emails, supported each other through difficult moments or joyful occasions. When that moment actually happens though - when you are face to face for the first time, at least for me, it is like looking at a long lost friend. I have experienced it many times. I tend to be emotional so when I connect with these friends, there are always huge hugs, lots of laughter, and even occasionally a few tears from me.

Such was the case in the south of France. You see, Chicago bestie and I were to part ways on Monday morning. We had had the MOST MAGICAL week together - a week that I will go back to time and again and feel such joy reliving. We drove our little car to the train station in the rain, listening to music - but nothing slow or sad - no way. We returned our car and walked up to the station to find our trains. I felt so sad knowing she was leaving. My heart was heavy as, even though we may travel together again, this really was a once in a lifetime trip. I should also mention that I don't do "goodbye" well. I nearly always cry, especially at airports or train stations. And of course, this time was no exception. I hated to see her go...

So, she had her ticket, but mine had been purchased the night before at the hotel so I needed to pick up my physical ticket when we arrived. I waited in line but had a sinking feeling as I watched people who seemed rather frustrated working with the women at the counters. When it was my turn, I learned that, thanks to the french belief in the right to strike, there would be no train to Toulouse that day. There would be no trains westward bound at all as a matter of fact. Hhmmm... Now what to do...

And this, my friends, is where the rubber meets the road. It is where the boys are separated from the men, where the cream rises to the top. It is where you learn who your true friends are - strike that - *family* is. Because in this moment of "I'm stranded in the train station in Avignon which isn't necessarily the worst place to be stranded but being stranded in general isn't a great thing to be" , my blogging friend became my french bestie. She DROVE all the way from Toulouse, on a moments notice, to PICK ME UP. FOUR hours - F-O-U-R. Each way. Honestly. And the moment she arrived, I threw my arms around her and that was it. Family.




I only have one photo from that day. We stopped to take one of Pont du Gard - an incredibly old, amazing aqueduct constructed by the Roman Empire - originally they thought it was built in the 19th century, but now think it may have been the middle of the first. Yikes! It is one of the Unesco world heritage sites and it really is amazing to see something that old and imagine the lives that have come in contact with it over the ages.

What I do have, if not lack of photos, are memories of talking for four hours straight about everything under the sun. We had no problem filling the drive back with all of the things we wanted to catch up on or share. It was fabulous. But not as fabulous as the moment we arrived at her home. Picture this~ French countryside, rolling hills, old French farmhouse, sun just setting. But wait - it gets better.

When we went inside, her husband (who from here on in will be referred to as "french husband" - not because he is her french husband, but because he is now also *my* french husband) and three children were sitting at the table having dinner. I sat down and was IMMEDIATELY a part of the family. Seriously. It was as if I had known the children forever when they greeted me with "we have heard so much about you". French husband poured us a glass of wine, and that was that. Really, I should have seen it was the beginning of the end for me - the end of thinking I didn't belong right there. Maybe not in french family's house, but in the french countryside. Because as wonderful and warm and fabulous as that first night was, it continued to get even better for the entire week I was there.

But that is a story for another day...


25 comments:

Anne - Fiona and Twig said...

What a wonderful, wonderful story!

And a true testament to my deeply held belief that our blogging family can sometimes more rightly be called kindred spirits than those geographically close to us.

You have found your French family, now the only question remaining is when will you return to them? :-)

Have a beautiful Tuesday!
Anne

Mary said...

Beautiful post - made me smile!

bullie_mama said...

You even made me tear up with this post (for, yes, I too am awful with good byes and shed tears quite often.)! you are an amazing writer.. I can live through your words. You should think about writing a book of your excursions and life happenings one day. Thanks for sharing!

Privet and Holly said...

KIM! I truly do believe that blogging allows the true spirit to shine and that things like geography, age, social strata, etc. fall by the wayside, light as feathers, allowing people to connect as, well, people.
Looking forward to hearing more of this ACT II tale in France!
xx Suzanne

AuroraSuzette said...

Ah Kim. France has claimed you. It may be awhile before you return, but we both know that part of you stayed.

Laura @ 52 FLEA said...

I know I would have felt right at home there too! For sure.
Lovely post!
:)

Kasey said...

{sigh}
you told a lovely story Kim.
xo

Nikki said...

Wow, that is one BEST Frenchie friend. So glad you could connect.

Thank you so much for the hotel info. I'm looking into a few!

Sarah Elizabeth said...

What a lovely story of how blogging can create true friendships. I've certainly found many 'kindred spirits' since I started my blog and your story has made me appreciate my new blogging friends even more.

sharon said...

Well I'm pretty sure I know which special blogger rescued you, and from what I know of her I'm sure she and her family gave you a welcome to remember. Look forward to hearing about it!
Sharon

Ange said...

Oh dear. I have tears in my eyes. I miss you awfully!!! Well. You shall definitely have to come back because your whole French family misses you immensely. What adventures we can have - Avignon was just the beginning!! xxx Bisous French wife II

Kathy said...

What a special treat in life you have had.

RACHELLE said...

that is beautiful! There are only a handful of those friendships in a lifetime! where you give your all and make them part of your life, your family... and they give their 100% too.

i cherish those friends to no end.

lovely gal , driving so far to relieve your worries!

shell

gypsylemonade.blogspot.com

FrenchBlue said...

Beautiful story! It's funny when we are least expecting to find the treasure, it is found... You have a forever friend and I can't wait to hear more... I put on Carla Bruni and made my cup of Earl Grey just to read your post. They are such a treat!
xx

lisaroy said...

What an absolutely wonderful story! It's so lovely to make such close friends with virtual strangers and create such close bonds. I've met so many beautiful people since I started blogging and I treasure each and every one of them! Can't wait to hear more... : )

A Gift Wrapped Life said...

What a great story Mimi and as you know bloggers are a special breed of women.......they are remarkable and that includes you........thank you for your kind support and prayers. You know how special they can be in our hearts.Much love and I did enjoy your posts in the late nights and what pleasure it brought me at the end of a long days over the past few weeks. Much love XO

Fearless Nester said...

I loved this, partly because I knew who it was that came to your rescue. Can't wait to read more! Beautiful sentiments here. ~Lili

Petie said...

What a great story. I am waiting patiently to hear the rest of it....

Martha said...

loved this and how you shared it! How wonderful and so glad that happened so you did have those great moments:)

Nadja Vol said...

wonderful writing Kim. Brought back memories for me, having stood at that very spot Pont Du Garde with my French host family!

Kacey said...

How incredible is the blogging world?! Lots of goodness out there. So sweet!

Kacey

hometown girl said...

wow, that is so wonderful! how lucky to be stranded in the company of such a wonderful friend! can't wait to hear more!

Lori said...

I love this story. You know it reminds me of when I met Ziz, Jae and Cindy for dinner while I was in NYC. It was not awkward ~ it was comfy ~ we know each other ~ we are sisters that came together and stayed through all kinds of good and bad stuff. I love each and every story from your France vacation and cannot wait to hear more about Ang and your French husband!

Cheyenne said...

That is the coolest story!

blah said...

whats even weirder is having met someone never 'connected', and only really gotten to know them once your back packing on the other side of the world and you discover each other on facebook. i am so glad we did!