I sit at the table, say my usual “Bon matin”, grab my coffee, and butter my bread. It is the same spread as the previous six days. Butter from the region. Homemade strawberry jam from La Barberie farm made by his grandmother and homemade bread made by his uncle. There is something different about this morning. No one wants to speak so we sit in silence, harmonizing between bites of bread.
It is our last breakfast. It is our last day. In a few short minutes, I will get into their car for the last time and I will leave them as quickly as I came.
Before arriving, my fears and expectations were high. I was fearful of my ability to speak. I couldn’t sleep thinking about my temporary family. What if i wouldn’t reach their expectations? What if I messed up my French or what if I accidentally offended them with some cultural norm I had not yet learned? The weeks before, I chewed my nails to the quick concerned with how I would act and whether I would be a good representation of America.
Now, sitting in the parking lot, waiting for the bus, all of my previous worries seem irrelevant. My temporary family has become my family. Normandie has become a place of sanctity and wonder. France has become the land of hospitality.
Explaining to my French mother how much I hate goodbyes, she grabs my hand and says, “Ce n’est pas au revoir mais un autre moment. It is not goodbye, it is merely until another time.
So here is to merely another time.