France, Part 2
Sitting under a tree, looking off into the sunset. I don’t know where everyone is–so many people are sick.
I realized when I got back to this camp from the weekend, my phone was missing. It had been almost a full day. I’ve had data roaming turned off because I don’t have an international plan. I was sitting at dinner, eating endless bread (it’s like Olive Garden except when you’re here, you’re not family–you’re just really fucking hungry), and the feeling suddenly struck me… I hadn’t seen it for a while.
Over the weekend, while everyone else had either went to Paris or on a wine tour, Chris and I had gotten a car at the train station in Lyon and driven down to Saint-Marie-de-la-Mer. The last time I distinctly remember seeing the phone was when I was holding it in my hand on the drive down, which was several days ago.
Micah suggested I use the iCloud “Find my iPhone” tool to locate it. I was skeptical about that working overseas, but decided to anyway. I was hoping it was just somewhere laying around the camp, but then when it found it, it was in the car rental place in the Lyon-Part Dieu train station. I had left it on the counter in the car rental place and they had turned on data roaming and attempted to call me at the number left on the rental form (Chris’s phone number, which didn’t work). Now my account has a ton of data charges and I have to get it sorted out.
So Gilles gave me a ride up to the Tarare train station and I took the 45-minute ride train up to Lyon on my own to retrieve the phone. When I bought my ticket, I was confused about the departure time because it said 3:45 when it was only noon. I couldn’t remember the verb form for the word “departure” and I was trying to find a way to communicate “When does the train depart?” without being able to use the word “depart.” So when I approached the man at the booth and came to this realization after the fact that this would be a problem, I went meek and gave a shy, demure smile that only a girl could get away with and then eased my way into makeshift sign language, pointing at my wrist to indicate “time.” Then point outside as if there were a train. And gesturing as if the train were coming or going. And finally, after this elaborate game of charades, he understood what I was trying to ask and we were able to clarify that I needed to board the very next train.
It got me thinking. Sometimes, even in your own mother tongue, you know all the words but you just don’t know how to put them together to articulate something that resonates with others. Or you’re missing that one word that sparks the connection. I’ve been having a lot of moments like this with English recently.
I have a lot of thoughts in my head, powerful ones, hopes, dreams, fears, desires, energy. But without words, they stay bottled inside. And bottled inside, they eventually just get absorbed and reclaimed by boredom and apathy. If you don’t expend effort, all the beauty inside never rises to the top.
I didn’t notice this much until I got to France and was pitted against two separate modes of thought.
- A need to communicate with people who I do not have a shared common language with. I experienced quite a bit of that this weekend. I tell a gas station attendant to put 30 Euros on pump 11 (onze) but all she keeps hearing is me saying whatever the word for “fists” is, oddly. I’m actually fortunate that my first experience with France has been dampened a bit by being around other English-speaking people because I’m not really overwhelmed by it as I imagine I might be when I get to Paris next week.
- An awareness of how other “nerds” communicate. I consider myself a half-breed as far as nerdiness goes. I can get along with other nerds and most people will claim I am a nerd but I often feel like an outsider among them. I’m a developer but I have a difficult time discussing development with others. I’m not sure why. As such, the way I talk with “nerds” is different from how I communicate with others and feels like it is its own language. I posture a little bit and my personality shifts, especially when I feel intimidated or am lacking confidence. Which is very odd for me because I’m an extremely competitive person and I love debating, but when it comes to these matters, I struggle. Hard. I’m used to my language being more ostentatious than what nerds deliver. I’m used to talking in generalities than specifics.
Les Sauvages is kind of a weird, isolated village. Usually in the late afternoon, there is a lull in the main room at the camp. I go for a walk. Depending on where you go in this town, you’ll end up at a lot of odd points. One being a trail that cuts around a riverbed and ends at some cows. But more interestingly, if you keep walking up this craggy road, you’ll end up at an abandoned lumberyard. In the dark, if you go at night when I am alone with Chris, this is a really serene place. A car passes occasionally. But otherwise, in between the low humming whispers of cicadas and crickets, the noise is all you. And a conversation, any breathy laughter reverberates in the air with fantastic, buzzing energy. You can almost hear yourself smiling. You can almost taste yourself laughing.