Visitor season begins today with my first arrival. In fact, I have to get myself to the airport in about an hour to retrieve my debut guest. And, of course, like usual, I’m not ready. I went and did something really brilliant Sunday…I adopted a cat! Don’t get me wrong, I love this cat…and he loves me. And now my apartment feels like a home. But I probably could have planned this better (back to that planning issue) because rather than grocery shopping, cleaning and doing the laundry and ironing, and getting all my maps in order, I spent Sunday cuddling my new kitty, Arthur (pronounced Archoor), and waiting for him to figure out that the litter box was not a place to roll around and act silly. Finally at 1 a.m., just at the point that I was sure he would just explode, he calmly marched into his litter box and used it…properly. And as you can see, he is now well settled.
BUT....that left Monday to do all that needed to be done. And of course, Monday was the ONLY nice day we’ve had in weeks. I tried to ignore it and in the end the heat and the sunshine dried the 3 loads of laundry quickly and finally gave me an opportunity to clean the terrace. And now, time has run out and I’m as close to ready as I’m going to get.
It won’t be an onslaught of visitors this year. Just enough. My friend Sonya arrives from Wisconsin today, bringing with her a bag packed just for me. Let’s see…Skippy Peanut butter, hiking boots, a camera I bought for a friend (much cheaper in the U.S.), Glad Press-n-Seal, pumice stones, brown sugar and Crisco. I’m going to be all set up! An American friend of mine you has lived here for many years says I’ll eventually stop requesting things and just get used to not having them…but I don’t think so. As long as there are visitors there are going to be visiting requirements!
Sonya and I are heading to Italy tomorrow (the French and Italian Riviera) for a little hiking and photography…and to celebrate her birthday. We will return here Saturday just in time to welcome my oldest son and his girlfriend, who will stay for 2 ½ weeks. Just as they breeze out, my aunt will arrive and though she’s not staying with me, I hope to spend at least a day or two with her. I’ve then got a breather for about 4 weeks and several more visitors will arrive in July. September will hopefully bring a few of “my girls” from Eau Claire, whom I miss dearly, and then my mom and another aunt will arrive in October.
It’s true, “the visitors” interrupt my life and make working and writing and all those other things I love to do more difficult. But what I absolutely love about visitors, aside from just getting to see them, is that I once again have the opportunity to view my surroundings …through new, wondering eyes. As if I’m seeing all this beauty and history for the first time. I get to play tourist, visit places I haven’t seen yet, taste foods that have yet to touch my tongue, show my guests the things I find so splendid, and listen to their exclamations of delight as they find those same things amazing...and then some.
As in all lives, I’ve settled in to my space and sometimes (often) just go about living my life as if it were any other. And it really is. I pay my bills, do my laundry, fight with the electric and cable companies, and clean the toilets…and now the litter box. Yes, they’re French bills, French companies, I have to read the directions for cleaning products in French, and the cat only speaks French, but it’s really become a regular life.
So today, as Sonya and I are driving back to Aix en Provence from the airport, I will remember that first day back in January 2009 when I was making the same journey…nose plastered against the bus window, peering at the terrain that is so different from what I knew, the architecture that looks so ancient and completely foreign, the billboards and road signs that, at the time, I couldn’t read. And wondering what was in store for me here in this new country.
Yep, I’m ready… maps and guidebooks in hand. And I’m excited for all the new summer adventures. Bring on those visitors. Let’s go play!