Bon Voyage, EuroTrip 2017 (Paris in Springtime)

 

Paris. I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again. This is my favorite place on earth. My trip ended where it began in this place that I love. My last few days comprised a trip to the Louvre, delicious noms, making sure I had everything I needed, and a reunion with my high school French teacher and color guard coach. During this time, I also day-tripped to Reims with my buddy, L. I walked along the Seine; ate chaussons aux pommes, confit de canard (a few times), steak frites; and purchased about 10 bags of carambars fruits to bring home (that disappeared way too quickly). IMG_2230

My first time in Paris was in January–it was cold, grey, and wet, but I loved it nonetheless. My second time in Paris was my study abroad from August to December. I enjoyed Paris in the summer and fall, and a brief hint of winter again. In 2017, it was my first time visiting Paris (and Europe in general) in the spring. And boy…She did not disappoint. My favorite place in the world put on a glorious spring show for my last days in Europe.

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I was glad to have this time in Paris. After my mom died the first few hours I was there in Fall 2016, I thought that the feelings I felt then would be my association with the city forever. And in some ways, it will. I will never be able to think of Paris without thinking of my mom–but if I hadn’t been on my way to Paris in 2016, I wouldn’t have seen my mom the day before she (suddenly) died. I thought about my mom a lot those last few days. Everywhere I looked were things that reminded me of her: the beautiful flowers, the advent of spring, meeting up with my high school teacher. All things that reminded me how complex grief can be. I think I love Paris more now because it will always remind me of my momma, two of my favorites that I love the most in the world.

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And with my last few days in Paris, EuroTrip 2017 came to a close. It was *such* a good trip. Though there were some negatives– rain, lack of internet, loneliness, sunburns, and sore feet–those have faded with time, I remember those less than the positives — the art! the cities! the sights! the weather! the flowers! the reunions! the food! Plus, I think I have a good handle on how to tackle some of those problems for future trips (read: in a few short weeks!). Ciao and au revoir to Eurotrip 2017!

Thanksgiving Without Mom

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This year, I stayed put for Thanksgiving, and for the first time, my family came to me. I thought, perhaps selfishly, I don’t know, that the first Thanksgiving after my mom’s death would be easier for everyone if we did it a little differently.

I hadn’t been home for Thanksgiving since 2011. In 2012, I moved to Indiana and the drive/trip just seemed like a lot when I’d be home the next month for Christmas. In 2012, I spent Thanksgiving with my BFF Ashley in Nashville, and in 2013, 2014, and 2015, I hosted a Friendsgiving at my place.

This year, dad, brother, and sister packed up the car and drove to me. I had loose plans for a good time…show them around town (this was their first visit since moving me in 2012!), go to the movies, eat food, and perhaps go on a hike. We did all of it:

I drove them around campus (it was cold and rainy so a walk was not desirable) and we made a trip to the Barnes and Noble, so we could purchase books that none of us really needed.

We saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (I highly recommend it– I enjoyed it, even if I want BOOKS and not movies of these new stories). Sister even liked it more than Harry Potter (we may have scarred her by taking her to see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when she was a wee lass of six– That basilisk was a little scary)!

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I cooked Thanksgiving dinner, successfully, I might add. The only thing I didn’t do was peel and chop the potatoes, thanks to Brother and Sister respectively. We watched Christmas movies after dinner and had a good day.

Friday, we went for a hike in a local nature preserve. It was quiet and empty and it was nice to get out of town and do some woods-walking.

It was a good visit. There was no fighting or squabbling (though, I think I offended my brother when I told him to stop making Macaulay Culkin crack jokes whilst watching Home Alone). The only misbehavior was from my cat who was decidedly rude to my family while they were here (see Sister’s snapchat below).

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My family left on Saturday. I had been worried about them leaving and me taking it not so well, but I was surprisingly fine. Tired, but fine. It didn’t really hit me until Sunday that this Thanksgiving was  different, and even then, the level of that difference hasn’t registered. Grief is a funny thing, it can hide and not show its face when you expect it to do so. I had cooked and served Thanksgiving in my house before, but this time it was for my family. And the only reason that was the case, is because Mom is gone. The finality of the gone-ness still hasn’t sunk in; I was expecting Thanksgiving to put the goneness into focus, but it didn’t really, not in the way I was expecting.

Whatever the state of my grief-emotions, the first major holiday (excepting my birthday, my dad’s birthday, and my sister’s birthday, all of which occurred right after her death) without Mom has been celebrated. And, I miss her.