Une expérience niçoise


I’ve been feeling so behind. I know there’s no one tapping me on the shoulder reminding me to post or anything but I like keeping things current so I have my own version of a journal and literally every day this week there’s been something worth writing about and I hope not to forget a single detail.

Last week as I’d arrived in my new home I fought the desire to leave right away. My director dropped me off and stayed here for a couple days and I just felt uneasy. Everything within me wanted to run. It’s beautiful and wonderful but there was something in the air I felt I couldn’t handle. I’d already forced Lesley and Travis to change all their plans to come see me in Nice over the weekend so I felt obligated to stay and the people were nice here but yet, I wanted to run. For the first time I felt homesick but strangely it was for Arles and I’ve never felt homesickness before. I’d just started to build a little community and I just didn’t feel like I could handle the changes. Nightly I’d toss and turn and when I would finally fall asleep I’d wake up soon after and wait for the world to keep turning until sunlight came around the bend. I’m happy to say that now I’ve finally had at least 3 sleeps in a row that were normal. I was so worried, so uncomfortable and never before have I felt such a desire to run. I’m thankful that Lesley and Travis came and forced me to remain here because now I’m feeling back to normal.

Muriel was kind enough to drive into Vence on Saturday and together we took the bus into Nice where she hopped on a train to visit friends and I walked down Raimbaldi to find my sister and Travis. There was something so comforting about seeing familiar faces, faces I hadn’t seen since Christmas and that brought the reminder of home. The first night I felt entirely out of sorts, as though nervous because here I was coming from an experience which I hadn’t yet reconciled and into family familiarity but somehow I was slow at adjusting. I think I felt pressured to have it all together, to be a good host in a city I’d never seen, and so I felt lost between two languages and Nice felt strange and touristy and well… not very French at all. I’ve deemed it the southern California of France.

After our first impressions of the city that Saturday night I think we were all feeling a bit out of sorts and perhaps even a little disappointed. We couldn’t yet understand how this place functioned within the country. Both Travis and Lesley are triathletes and so at very least I was happy that the Paris-Nice cycling competition was ending in the city this particular weekend. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s second to the Tour de France. While I’m not really an athlete myself I have to say that I was excited by their excitement, I was happy to ask a million questions about their favorite teams and how well they were doing and the rules they had to follow. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen Travis smile so wide and in turn Lesley would smile just as wide as she saw his joy.

By evening we were all exhausted. We went back to the bed and breakfast and I fell asleep before my head could collapse in my pillow. In my room were tall doors with large windows that led onto a little balcony with a big bright orange tree outside and in the morning as I rolled over my face welcomed the sun warmed sheets. So relaxed, I laid there for over an hour to pray, to refuel and prepare for whatever was next. Once they had returned from their morning run we sat and ate possibly the best baguettes and croissants I’d had yet, or perhaps it was the joy of just relaxing. I was so pleased to be on a “weekend getaway.” Following breakfast Lesley and I went to the local fruit and veg market while Travis made his way to the last day of the race for the time trials to stand with mouth wide open to see everyone warming up next to their buses. Lesley and I gathered fennel, citrus fruits (including my favorite – the blood orange) cilantro, chanteclare apples, some cured meat, cheese, handmade ravioli and a bottle of wine for dinner. We walked back toward the B&B to drop off a few items and Lesley couldn’t resist climbing the orange tree outside our windows to get a few to try, which we found out are a little too bitter to be properly enjoyed but I appreciated her efforts and her surprise to find that orange trees have thorns.

We brought some of the goods with us as we hopped on the tram to reconnect with Travis. It was fun to see all the matching suitcases for the teams, the washing machines in the buses, athletes being interviewed and collecting water bottles from various racers before we all walked up to the old cathedral that overlooks the shorelines of Nice. You could see it all up there, the oversized yachts, the outline of vieux Nice, the alps and all the houses lining the hills all the way down to the Mediterranean. We sat and finally we were appreciating Nice. Though it may have been difficult at first, it came, we began to understand the nature of the city and we could enjoy the warmth of the sun the cool ocean breeze and not feel so bothered by just how many people inhabit this city (even in March…)

It definitely didn’t have the same feel as other cities I’d visited but I appreciated trying Socca, a chickpea flatbread, which is about as Nicoise as it comes, even more than Nicoise Salad. For some reason I thought it was from elsewhere but Samuel was insistent that this was the real deal.

I enjoyed my weekend, I enjoyed family time. Sometimes it’s hard not having the friends you love so much around to go out for a drink, to go out dining and dancing but I know that it’s all a matter of making new friends, new experiences and getting used to life lived a little differently and I’m thankful that I’m finally coming around. I really do love France, but there are some aspects that will forever take getting used to. I promise though, I love France, I love the French and I love the landscape, I am very fortunate indeed.

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