In Frankfurt, I brainstormed Relay For Life, I ate at a sushi bar, I got lost, I continued to think European m&m’s are way better than ones from home.
In essence, not much happened in Frankfurt. I got to have a series of long calls home, for once, which was very, very nice.
A week or two ago, my friend Scott had reached out to me to let me know he’d be in Strasbourg this week to visit his host mom he had when he studied abroad two years ago. He offered to show me the city if I’d be around. A face I know? Yes, please. While in Frankfurt, I found out Strasbourg had one hostel, all booked, and I figured I’d have to night train bounce to somewhere else after my day with Scott.
With neither of us asking, Nounou told him I could stay on the futon in the living room. I had a place to stay… at a home!
Thursday, I arrived in Strasbourg just after 9:00a.m. Scott met me and took me to Nounou’s house. She’s wonderful, a host grandma, really. She has hosted well over sixty abroad students in her home over the past fifteen years. She doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak a word of French, but Scott was an amazing translator. “What she technically said was ‘this isn’t a hotel’ but that sounds harsh, what she means is ‘it is a small bed.'” Translated compliments are almost sweeter. “She said you remind her of one of her old students because of your white teeth.”
Watching Nounou and Scott interact was fantastic. He’s fluent and watching their conversations, you can tell how much she has missed him.
Scott took me around Strasbourg, which is straight out of a storybook. We went through parks, churches, the cathedral, side alleys and along the river. For lunch, he took me to his favorite crepe place (mine had mushrooms, cream and cheese), each with white wine. Not too much later, we had hot chocolate so thick you use a spoon.
We were out from about 10:45a.m. until 10:30p.m. Strasbourg shopping for him, happy hour beers for both of us (one was a pepper beer), and a lot of talk and catching up over dinner (and then elsewhere chocolate fondue dessert- Scott, how much did we eat?) about our post-grad lives, both of which are very exciting, if very different.
At Nounou’s, I slept like a rock. I passed out holding my iPad.
Nounou watches a baby and a toddler everyday. I loved every minute of playing with them yesterday morning. I made them both laugh! Maternal potential? Probably “Idiot woman keeps baby-talking to me in English, let’s humor her.”
Nounou was amazing. She saw me barefoot, a minute later she was untagging a blue pair of Ikea slippers and handing them to me. As I gathered things for a shower, Scott told me Nounou told him she was getting me a towel so mine wouldn’t be wet. “She said had she thought of it, she would have had your laundry done here.” After breakfast, she handed me two pieces of cake wrapped in foil. “It’s for your trip today.” She invited me to share the lunch she was making for Scott – his favorite meal.
It was so nice to be home. Any home.
Anyone who knows me knows my nervous energy. Best thing translated all day: “Nounou just asked me if you’re nervous or have a tick, because your leg is shaking.” I looked over and Nounou’s hands are acting out the shake.
At one point, the seventeen-month-old boy found my toothpaste and brought it to me. I took it from him, stuck it in my back pocket, and continued my conversation with Scott. I sat for coffee with Nounou.
Ten minutes later, I reach back…
I am sitting in a puddle of toothpaste. All over the seat of my jeans. All over Nounou’s kitchen chair. I am mortified. “Scott… Scott… Paper towel…” Scott started to explain what happened to Nounou, but she immediately said something about oh that boy, he shouldn’t have left it there on the seat…
Scott and I… Okay, we’re going with that.
I’m going back to Nounou’s, without Scott’s translations, in a few weeks for the Christmas markets. Nounou collects snow globes and my mission between now and then is to get her one from Italy, a place she doesn’t have one from yet. On her mantle is a Hollywood globe.
On a final note, Scott and I went to a park with a public zoo. Monkeys, wallabies, peacocks, flamingoes, storks… A lot of weird sounds. We hear a strange sort of meowing. I’m so intrigued by this sound.
A bird that meows… That’s BRILLIANT.
Then Scott and I look around. Just beyond the cage with the exotic birds… A kid meowing at the birds.