Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Aix Rated

I'm experiencing insomnia while pondering my imminent return to the city that never sleeps. Instead of tossing and turning, I'm transcribing notes I took from the train ride to Paris to quell my racing mind and impart a little French wisdom before I forget any of it.

There's something about the watching the French countryside pass in subtle waves of green that forces one to be contemplative. After spending the last days with a best pal in Aix en Provence, and a true immersion in French living, I find myself already reminiscing about lazy dinners consisting of bread and wine (ahh the joys of vegan living in France), sunny picnics, and spending cherished time with mon ami, Meggie.

After days of resisting French cheese and cake, I've endulged in Aix-related (but most definitely not X rated) isms, as they're even harder to resist, so forgive me if a few make their way into this blog. Here are a few notable moments from the past week:
1. Upon asking for the check, post 3 hour dinner, our waiter simply hands the group the wine menu and requests that we "order another bottle instead!" Aixasperating, but endearing.
2. Everyday is perfect for a picnic - in Aix, at least. We spent two afternoons sun-bathing, a nearly cloudless sky above and our market bounties below. Also: is there a bad time for a bottle of French wine?
3. Wandering the city streets, running on espresso and wine, makes getting lost easy, and getting lost in your own thoughts easier. But waiting until a best friend finishes class, to enjoy more espresso/wine with, can make the quietest cobblestone street echo with anticipation.
4. While I couldn't participate in the cake eating, where a toy is hidden into a baked cake, and the person that finds in his cake is "King/Queen for the day," I was treated instead to an impromptu clarinet solo by our host; his joie de vivre was contagious.

I've come to realize that la pura vida exists anywhere you're willing to look, even waiting in the gritty sidewalk cracks of any city, as long as you're open to appreciation of the moment. I will say, without a doubt, the sidewalk cracks in NYC are vastly superior to those in France - I have a new appreciation for Americans cleaning up after their dogs (a sub lesson to below: take more care to watch where you're walking.)

Lesson #38: Recognize the need to get out, break free of your surroundings, and choose a place that's as opposite to your life as possible. If you can, go somewhere international if you'd like your flight to remain in the "On Time" category (at least my picture here captures this sentiment as of late). Lastly, this may not always be possible, but my advice would be to immerse yourself in another culture and way of living - the time away will feel longer, but more importantly, you may even momentarily forget where you're from, where you're going, and relish that only this exact moment matters. And maybe you'll even miss that great big bear of a city after all - but mostly, you'll appreciate how easy it is to come and go.