I am going to keep doing these Monday Memories posts, even though some think they're confusing. Come on...this is simple! I wrote this a year ago at this very same time. This year, I'm in my own apartment and my biggest noise problem is the bruyant girlfriend of my neighbor. But that is today, this article was then.
French Word of the Day
I decided long ago that I would always live in a University town. There’s just something about the energy that a college brings to a city; the exuberance and the life that the students contribute as well as all the cool stuff that University offers the community. You know...theater, educational forums, musical programs....beer parties!
I bought my first house in a college neighborhood and really loved it there. Of course, there were people my age and elderly people as well as the students but I loved how we all lived together. It wasn't white bread. It was a club sandwich with dark bread, light bread, aged cheese, spicy sausage, sweet tomatoes and some some piquant mustard that often would make my eyes water. And really tasty.
Sure, there are always problems. For instance the night the students cut down my elderly neighbor’s’ evergreen to use for a Christmas tree. It was a rotten thing to do but certainly not the norm and when we moved from Chippewa Street to “suburbia” I was sure I would die of boredom. Luckily the new baby that arrived just after the move did a thorough job of preventing that little problem but I always wanted to move back down into “college land.”
When it was time to make a decision about what city in France I was actually going to move to, I had no problem selecting the region. I had been to Provence before and knew it was where I wanted to return. But after that, it was just a crapshoot. I chose 3 towns that began with the letter A (it seemed a good place to start) and then did a little research. After learning that Aix en Provence was not only beautiful and cultured but also had a large University presence (1/3 of the population is students), I decided this was the place for me. Finally!
But let me digress just a little. When I lived in “college land” in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, I had 4 insulated walls and insulated windows, a yard and a fence, and a wide street that distanced me from my neighbors. Not enough to prevent a morning chat but enough for privacy and peace. The students would often have parties and I spent many a morning picking up beer cups that seemed to procreate in my yard (for that matter, so did the students...well maybe they didn't procreate but they did copulate... under my pine tree) but it was never enough to get too worked up about.
However, because my apartment won't be ready until October 1st, I am now I am staying with French boyfriend in the central part of the city, 2 blocks from 2 Universities, in a building that is at least 400 years old and all that separates us from the neighbors is a floor, a ceiling, a wall, a street the width of a European car, and a couple of very old and very large windows.
The students have returned for the fall and I don’t think they have much to do right now because the parties begin on Wednesday night. And believe me, when you live this close together, the party might as well be happening in your own living room. If two apartments across the street from each other are partying simultaneously, the revelers can chat (or shriek...this form of communication is saved for after 2 in the morning when the music has become so loud they can’t hear each other) out the windows, pass each other beverages and pretend the rest of us don’t exist. And of course, they only choose to do this when I have to be up at 6 am. Actually, I will be up at 6 am no matter what because the street cleaners live elsewhere and have obviously gotten plenty of sleep. They are hell bent on getting that street done by 6:30 and they have to shout at each other as well to be heard above the gushing water.
And if we’re really, really lucky, by Saturday night the students are either exhausted or in some other poor sucker’s neighborhood. However, we are also above a restaurant run by Sicilians. They don’t talk.... they yell. In fact, at first I thought they were constantly mad at each other until I heard them talking affectionately to a child in the same manner. So they yell before dinner as they’re preparing the evening’s menu, they yell at the customers throughout dinner and afterwards, and when it’s 2 am and all the diners have gone home and are sleeping soundly in their homes somewhere outside the city, they sit down for a little vino and a yell fest.
I guess I can’t blame my bad humor and baggy eyes on just college students so I will continue to believe in their good qualities. But something has to be done about this before I collapse in my croissant!
So I went to the pharmacy to purchase earplugs yesterday. I didn’t know what they were called so I asked for some bouchons des l’oreilles, which translates to “cork for your ears” and the woman knew exactly what I needed. I’m obviously not the first to ask because they had stacks of them. I bought a lovely box with a set in 3 different colors, because if I’m going to be having parties with beautiful, young, French strangers practically in my living room, and dark, handsome Italians just below my window, I want to make sure my earplugs match my shoes.
Hey! What do you mean, you don't think this is me? Of course its me! I'm wearing my red earplugs, you just can't see them.