Monday, March 23, 2009
My birthday weekend
I'm pooped! What a weekend! I try to downplay my birthday (I've had a lot of them), but my daughter can't contain herself. I knew Lisa was up to something, but didn't know what. Because of Irie's exuberance and desire to be a part of it all, I figured I wasn't being taken away for an intimate weekend with Lisa. My best guess was a small party involving the Bruzzone's and Michelle and Abbie. As it turned out Irie was in on the secrets, and even though I was teasingly trying to get her to tell, she did a great job of not spilling the beans.
Friday, we had a long-planned dinner with some new friends we met at Irie's school. The dad, Kurt, heard Michelle and I talking in english and introduced himself. He is an American who has been here 20 years, married a french woman, Stephanie, and has a son, Charlie who is a year younger than Irie. We had a delicious dinner at their apt., and a very nice time. Even before the dinner, Irie's excitement resulted in her giving me her card and present...a day early. That's my girl!
Saturday morning was heaven as I got served coffee and breakfast in bed, and Lisa gave me her present and card. She told me I needed to be ready to go "somewhere" about noon. Before putting me in the car they blindfolded me. Little did I know that an hour later I would still be in the car, and feeling a bit carsick from the curvy roads and not being able to see. After getting lost and having to call Nathalie, Lisa finally got us to our destination - the Bruzzone's country house, Bon Pin. I had a feeling, based on the driving time and winding roads, but what I certainly didn't expect were all the guests! Here I am, less than 9 months in France, and we have 17 people at my birthday party. I am humbled and deeply touched at how we have been welcomed so warmly in France, how generous and caring the friends we have made, and how our french lives have developed in such a short time. (Those of you who worried about whether we'd come home have legitimate concerns :))
We have had glorious spring weather the past few weeks, but Sat. March 21 was cold and cloudy with a few raindrops even. Despite that, our friends drove an hour into the country to spend my birthday with us, and there they all were: Nathalie, Laurent, their girls Laure and Fanny and Laure's boyfriend Aurelien, Michelle and Abbie (who came with us, it was their car afterall), Edouard (my "employer" for the CERS ad he made), his wife Marielle, and their precious baby girl Serena, Hélène, Pascale (my french tutor) and her significant other Eric, and Jerome who supplied everyone with his music-making all afternoon and even got Lisa and I to sing along on separate occasions. We had a wonderful meal that left everyone gonfler (full). Then came dessert with champagne (frozen), 3 delicious gateaux and a group card. Inside was a trip in a glider the very next day! In Michelle's great photos I think you can see the surprise on my face. Thanks to Michelle for the continued use of her car, and for taking photos all day! Big thanks to Nathalie and Laurent - not only did they open up Bon Pin to all of us, but Nathalie was a major help to Lisa in getting this party together in every way , and Laurent slaved over the fire cooking up the chicken, pork chops, veggies, and the melted Camembert that disappeared in a flash! And the biggest thanks to my lovely wife for going to such extraordinary lengths in a foreign country to make this an unforgettable birthday!! She even topped off the evening with one more courageous surprise, dancing my favorite hula, Pua Hone, with everyone a witness of her love for me.
I will get to my amazing day yesterday in the glider, however, that will need to be a separate post. Needless to say, I came home exhausted and discombobulated, and fell fast asleep.