Oh man, so much has happened since my last post. It's strange how each day passes so quickly but feels so long at the same time. I know this is somewhat cliche, but I've lived here just over a week, and it feels like I've been here forever. Like France carved out a space for me years ago, knowing I would come, and I just slipped in once I got the chance. Classes at university feel less confusing now, the French language is just slightly less foreign, and I know people that I hope I can call my friends for the next five months here. I went to Toulouse, a city full of energy and brick buildings about 2 1/2 hours by train from here, and returning felt like coming home.
Well, maybe not home home like Geneseo feels, but it felt familiar and reassuring.
I think on Wednesday last week, I was rushing to get to school (through a combination of walking and public transport, it takes about 40 minutes from my front door to the university entry, I'd approximate, no falling-out-of-bed-into-Welles like at Geneseo) standing outside the doors of the just-arrived tram and pushing close to a group of people so it wouldn't leave us behind. Everyone had an air of urgency, of necessity, to get on that train and go to work or school. But we were held up by an elderly lady exiting the door we were trying to get over. A black shawl covered her entire head and face, her back was hunched almost in a perfect U, a posture of complete sadness, or age, or wear.
I had seen her before, I think, sitting against a building, cup of change in outstretched hand, that same shawl making her face unknown to passersby. I had remembered her because of that unseen face, that scowling posture that looked like devastation. I also remembered her because she was also wearing a pair of hiking boots, such a disparate thing. And now, exiting the tram, her slow movements rejected the fast current of everyone else, created a notable distinction between this woman and her surroundings. The rest of the commuters stopped and slowed, watched as they let her pass, and then continued on their day. Myself included.