Tuesday, October 18, 2011


You may not know them, but the Andrews are the most incredible people you will ever meet. Just being around them fills you with a sense of wonderment, enjoyment, hope and a feeling that everything will be okay, that the world is beautiful and that since you are a part of the world you, too, are beautiful.

The Andrews are old family friends of mine. In fact, they have known me since before I was born. They've been quite close to my parents before I was even a glint in anyones eye. They live on Vashon Island off of Seattle and on our way to Montana every summer we would spend at least a week there hanging out with them. To say it was fun would be an understatement. It was absolutely enchanting. 

Vashon is a small and beautiful island just a ferry ride away from the delightful city of Seattle. Sure it may rain there a lot but it is because of all that rain that the island is so lush and intoxicating. It is constantly green like something out of a fairy tale. It doesn't hurt that almost every time I've ever been there it has happened to be sunny, but the part of me that believes in signs takes that to mean that I should live there. And I really, really want to some day. 

I have wanted to live on Vashon for as long as I can remember. It is a fantasy come true for me. Green, beautiful, whimsical, enchanting, small, quaint, comforting, cultured. And of course any time I've gone there I've spent all of my time with Helen and David Andrews in their beautiful home on the incredible Puget Sound. Their patio meets the beach in such a way that when it's high tide you can step off the stones into the water. They have a wonderful, relaxing hot tub that they use everyday and when you soak in it you look out onto the salt water, the beautiful green land across it, the gulls flying through the air, and you can't help but enjoy the moment and be fully aware of how lucky you are to be a part of it. 

So when I found out that they were in Paris for a few days and wanted to take me out to dinner I was more than excited. First, I am a poor french intern living off of cheap chicken and two euro wine and so a free meal is always welcomed. Second, I am happy to see anyone from home who I can bond with about how wonderful America is, speak English to, and gossip about the french with. Third, I haven't seen the Andrews in at least 2 1/2 years and so it's about time we caught up face to face. And lastly, (and most importantly), the Andrews are absolutely incredible and I am always more than happy to spend time with them. 

I met them at their hotel after a long trip on the metro in which I took the most ass backwards way possible. After taking the wrong line and getting off at a stop too far away I had to haul ass to get to their hotel. I obviously made a poor footwear choice and this morning awoke to find blisters on my ankles and blood stains in the back of my shoes. But at the time I was so hellbent on getting to there hotel and spending as much time as possible with them that I didn't even feel the pain. 

We went to a lovely brasserie only a few minutes walk from their hotel, Brasserie Balzar. It was very french and very busy and apparently Helen and David go there all the time when visiting Paris. We were seated by a round host with an impressive handle bar moustache. David ordered a bottle of wine as soon as our waiter came around without even looking at a menu. The wine was devine and the order of snails that prefaced our meal was magnificent as well. The menu was simple but classic french and I ordered the scallops and asparagus. The thing I love about french menus is that they never explain the dish like american menus do and so you're never exactly sure what you're going to get. So when my scallops came surrounding a semi sphere of what looked like asparagus colored jelly, I wasn't surprised by the surprise. And of course, it was absolutely delicious. They were some of the best cooked scallops I had ever had and as soon as I cut into the dome of asparagus goo I knew it was going to be tasty, and it did not disappoint. 

After dinner we walked around looking for a gelato place and continued to chat and laugh and all around have a good time. While I shared some stories of work I tried to shield them from the real horrors of the place because like everyone else they are so excited for me to be doing this and have such romantic feelings about this whole experience that I just didn't have the heart to burst it for them. And as I was sugar coating it for them I realized that I need to do the same thing for myself. 

This may not be easy. This may really suck sometimes. I may absolutely hate the people I work with and the way that they treat me but I should be able to take it all in stride. Nobody is forcing me to do this. This is a choice I made because I wanted to experience something different and now I'm acting as if I'm upset that it's actually something different. Of course it's not all roses and croissants and wine and foie gras. It's a damn kitchen after all. And a french one, too. Sure this may not be the land of the free but I do have the freedom to not go into my internship ever again. I have the freedom to look for somewhere else. And most importantly I have the freedom to look at this experience and time here how ever I want to. 

So while I was laminating the tough days at my patisserie with a patina of good humour for the Andrews, I realized that I need to do the same for myself. Be light hearted. Be happy. And if it gets to a point where that really truly isn't possible, smile and say, "Sayonara suckers, I'm going where the sun keeps shining, through the pouring rain." Just as Vashon is lush and charming because of the rain, France is incredible and enchanting because of the French. I have so many stories under my belt thus far and I still have almost half of my journey left. And the truth is that it wouldn't be nearly as entertaining if there weren't bad with the good. Shitty days can be hilarious, and I think we can all admit that we'd be disappointed if the French turned out to be sweet and welcoming. I'm going to live it up while I'm here because this will never happen for me again. So thanks David and Helen! You're positivity is truly inspirational and I think I may have caught the bug. We'll see if this itchy throat spreads...

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