This week has been full of goodbyes for me. They weren’t all sad. Some were just casual see-ya’s, some were good-riddance-s (I’m speaking to you cell-phone company), whereas others were simply heartbreaking.
For some reason, the fact that my contract expires at the end of April wasn’t a well known fact and I’ve had to continuously be the bearer of bad news. Monday, the accounting teacher I work with was going over her lesson ideas for May. I told her I thought they were good plans and if she needed any help she could always email me. She regarded me in confusion. (Remember, this is the same teacher that told me in French, “See you in 5 minutes” and I responded by leaving work for the day.) Well-meaning miscommunication has always been an undercurrent in our relationship, but once I explained that I was leaving for good, she got that inevitable, disappointed look of realization and I felt that familiar twinge of regret for not extending my contract when I had the chance.
Tuesday one of my teachers took me to Pornic, a lovely little beach town. It was perfect weather, sunny and mild, for a stroll along the rocky coast. She treated me to a café and the region’s famous strawberry sorbet. We spoke over a broad range of life topics, completely en français. It was divine. I felt like such a grown-up.
|People already on holidays.|
On Wednesday I had to hurriedly figure out how to close my French phone account, a harrowing task in-it-of-itself. I had two teachers on the phone with me trying to sort it out. What they tell you in the boutique when you sign up for your cell-phone plan is a little bit different from what the administrative people tell you over the phone when trying to close it. I’ve sent in a packet of double-checked important documents so let’s keep our fingers crossed that it all goes through and I’m not stuck with a French number, converting dollars to euros out of my empty pockets for the next two years.
Thursday and Friday au college was bittersweet to say the least. I had my last run-ins with the less than agreeable classes, played fun games each day in celebration, and my profs and I exchanged goodbye gifts and cards at break time in the teachers’ lounge with stoic sincerity.
That’s when it all ended during the last hour on Friday afternoon. I readied myself the for worst.
My darling little 6e (the 11 and 12 year olds) threw me a surprise going away party! They had made gateaux and brought drinks to share. They literally lined up to present me with gifts and cards. My arms were overflowing. Oh my precious little 6e, we’d been through some stuff together. I wanted to hug each and everyone of them, but my teacher told me that was not allowed.
|My loot. An odd assortment of earrings, books, and a ceramic doll.|
|A pretty good representation. Notice the detail spent on the placement of my earrings. However, I’ve not once worn a belly shirt nor do I have “beauty” tattooed across my stomach. (Just wanted to clarify that for you mom and dad.)|
Then one of my biggest fans, Lorraine, tearfully told me she was so sad and Fridays would never be as fun. She then recited a poem she had written for me that day in (for the most part) comprehensible English. The last two lines were something along the lines of “You will never be forgotten. I love you.” My heart nearly burst. Damn that no hugging rule. Don’t the French realize that Americans are huggers and that American teachers hug their students on the last day? Especially the little pitiful ones with tears in their eyes reciting you poetry?
After the period ended, a group of girls waited for me outside of the teacher’s lounge and walked me to the tramway one last time. It was too much! I can’t believe I’m not going to see those shining little faces again, or see them mature into their teenage years and become young adults. Adventure aside, sometimes the “temporary” part of being a temporary citizen in a foreign country really sucks.
That night I practiced my French again by going out for drinks with the college profs. My French isn’t great, but it was pas mal last night. I understood things said and was able to communicate my thoughts back. We laughed and made jokes. Sauf for my frustrating accent and sometimes sloppy sentence conjugation, I’m pretty pleased with my (ongoing) progress in French.
Ended the night dancing on chairs and belting out songs at the top of our lungs with my assistant friends later at someone’s apartment. A glorious finish to a memorable week.
Two weeks left, America. Geeze how the time flies.