Thursday, December 21, 2006

Seek not and you may find...

I'm finished with France - emotionally, but more importantly, physically. Although it didn't happen 'till the last 12 hours of my time in the country, I've received my financial compensation for four months work; trust me, you don't want to know. The 630€/month food bill combined with taxes ultimately paid the "under" bets.

However, it's the positives I'll remember. The country is beautiful, and almost everyone other than the woman with whom I lived was kind and patient. I searched for truffles in the hills, hunted rabbits in the vineyards, and began to understand the French language. I visited historical sites the likes of which the United States (at least in terms of anglo history) can never know, walked barefoot in the Mediterranean Sea and stood on snow in Andorra. However, even these memories will soften and fade.

On Monday after work, we searched for and found about 1000€ worth of truffles. It'd have been easy for Charles to sell them - any local merchant would gladly pay the 1000€/kg wholesale price, and I know that he doesn't exactly "live large" on his salary working for Marie. Instead, the most important thing for Charles was that I (with absolutely no knowledge and/or experience regarding truffles) was able to take in some of the local culture. We went back to his house and opened some wine. That night, we (the four of us from work) sat around the table and ate truffles with bread, olive oil, and sea salt, ending with shredded truffle over salad - after all, who knew when I'd be back. We joked about work, the recent cold weather, and the dog that found our truffles. Later, I expressed my domestic/financial frustrations openly for the first time, with the only people truly capable of understanding - the others who knew and worked for Marie. Their response? "We understand, and we're surprised you stayed this long. If you ever visit again, please stay with us."

It was positive closure. It was communication. It was what I'd been looking for all along. It was reassurance that while I've experienced many positives during my stay in France, the net effect remains the same - I must leave. As my uncle said, "Not all the roads on a great adventure are paved, my boy. Indeed, that's what makes the adventure ultimately great!"

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