Have you been waiting for me to actually start my holiday? Really?
I didn’t realise that I was kind of ignoring the idea of extended vacation during the whole “pack up my Paris life, cry a whole bunch, hug people for awkwardly long times, cry more, finally hand over the keys to the new tenant and drive away” thing. Therefore, I wasn’t excited about it. I basically just couldn’t see anything past leaving Paris. That was three years of my life; three years of ups and downs and moments and people and, well, my apartment (which saw everything)! So, saying goodbye was no easy feat. Granted, the last time I left a place (Knoxville, January 2015, 1.5-year life), I distinctly remember someone pulling me away from brunch and saying, “Girl, you gon’ miss that plane if we don’t go now.” I booked a brunch with my favorite people for just hours before my flight. Typical.
The whole change thing? Yeah, I’m no good at it. Day-to-day, roll with the punches, happy-go-lucky on holiday change — no problem. But, big, uncomfortable life change — well, problem.
I’ll spare you the details of my very rushed, last-minute Paris departure. Just note that it was messy on many sides. When we finally left and started driving toward our new homebase, where we would stay a couple nights before the big trip, I was numb. I had imagined crying for the entire five-hour journey to our new, small coastal town, but actually I mostly just sat there aimless and wondering what “everything else” would be like.
Then we arrived, a few tears were shed, I ate a giant meal and I fell asleep.
When I awoke in the morning, I felt mostly okay. I was mostly ready to join TIMBL to take on the big day of unpacking the car and repacking for Spain and Portugal. We did it. We did it just fine (except that my new Osprey backpack never arrived and my suitcases are now in storage, so all of my things went into trash bags). And then this morning I read some poetry in the sunlight, drank my coffee and juice and packed a slightly-irresponibly-way-too-heavy bag of books and postcards. We got on the road and 7.5 hours later, I was ready. I caught up to you; I was ready for me to be on a flipping vacation.
* * *
Tonight I am sitting in the dining room of my small hotel suite and through the double-paned windows I can still hear the wind howling and waves crashing on the shore across the street. The lighthouse distracts me from my San Sebastién research every 17 seconds.
We had prepared and packed all of our road food for today, and tonight’s meal was a chicken and kale pasta salad with apples, beets and roasted walnuts, and with a Breton cider vinegar and argan oil dressing. Does it sound luxurious? After driving so long today it felt bloody luxurious, even if we ate it out of plastic bowls. For dessert we had clementines and a drop of Scotch. This aparthotel doesn’t intend to create a lush experience for its guests, not by far — but you wouldn’t know it by how relaxed I feel at the moment.
Tomorrow we will get up, I’ll repack into my new backpack (we were able to stop into the local shop in Bordeaux and pick it up!) and winding through a couple of small French villages, we will slowly make our way toward the Spanish border. Then TIMBL wants to show me this tiny stretch of Cornish-Basque coastline straddling the two countries. Apparently, there is an incomprehensibly large 19th-century mansion there called Château d’Abbadie, which belongs to some rich geographer & ethnographer who either gives or allows tours of private rooms. I’d like it if he gave them himself. I’d especially like it if he gave tours served with such elegant quips as, “This is the chamber room to which I once lured and subsequently devoured a fellow anthropologist, all on the basis of allowing her to examine my exquisite collection of craniums of French women who died in the Battle of Biscay. She did not depart dissatisfied.” Closes door. Quietly leads group down the rest of the candle-lit (for ethno-effect) hallway. There’s also a state-of-the-art observatory there, so I guess it could be cool.
We’re then having lunch at a highly recommended clifftop Basque restaurant, which we have to access by river ferry, just before the city limits of entering San Sebastién. Once we get into the city, the rest shall be explored from the doorstep of our cute little apartment in the old town, by foot, by nose, by tongue and by this hungry gut. Maybe there will be some cider tastings, maybe I will watch TIMBL eat a steak, likely I will shove my face in plate after plate of Pintxos — but definitely will there be drinks and food… and definitely will there be drumming!!