Friday, May 24, 2013

guest post: Betsy Transatlantically

Coucou! Guess where I am? THE LPV! The Husband and I arrived yesterday absolutely shattered after the 6AM flight and our crazy, non-stop week in Dublin. I'm knee deep in unpacking and laundry with hardly a moment to spare because tomorrow we travel to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer for the Gypsy Festival only to turn around and head back after a few hours to be fresh for la fête des mères (mother's day) at Papa's house on Sunday, and then on Monday we hit the road North to Clermont to visit my other French mother-in-law (a bucket of Red Bull would not go amiss). I'm like a spinning top so while I spin, keep on reading below, and meet my friend Betsy. TTFN. 
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Salut, mes amis! I'm Betsy from Betsy Transatlantically - like Sara, I'm one half of a glamorous international couple! Except that my fiancé is English, not French, which means that any linguistic misunderstandings are really justembarrassing, and we lived together for three years in London, which isn't exactly a petit village. (The glamour thing is indisputable, though. I mean, right?) So now that you know all of that, you'll understand why Sara suggested that you might like to hear about an international relationship from a different angle than the one you usually get here in LPV. That's why I'm going to tell you all about... my first kiss.

Hey, it happened in France! And it was with an Australian! How much more international can the story get?

Let's start at the beginning. I was on a study abroad program through Concordia Language Villages; I'd spent two summers immersed in their French village in Minnesota and, the summer I turned 15, I went with their group to France for a month. (You'd think I liked studying French! I actually hated it until college, when I had an amazing professor freshman year who convinced me to minor in French, but that's another story.) We were all high schoolers - I was the youngest of everyone - and it really was like something out of a novel: we played tourist for three days in Paris to start and then we were based in Saint Malo for two weeks of intensive language classes, after which everyone did a week of homestays (my family lived near Rennes) and we finished up with another two days in Paris.




clockwise from top left: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

Now, you have to appreciate how magical St. Malo is to understand how my first kiss could have happened there with an Australian. Pronounced sah-mah-loh, all as one word, it's a walled port city in Brittany, in the northwest of France right on the English Channel. It was founded centuries ago and boasts some incredible medieval history - an 11th century love story I wrote a college paper on was based there and Jacques Cartier, one of the first Europeans to explore Canada, was born there in 1491 - as well as the dubious fame of being a notorious base for French piracy in the 18th century. Our youth hostelwas two blocks away from the beach, and in the evenings we'd either sit on the high stone promenade and watch the tide wash out miles down the shore or stroll into town to get ice cream. It was glorious.

On our first night in the youth hostel, I was giddy with France and the sea air and the adventure of it all. It was also the last night that a group from Australia was staying there, and we all gathered in the courtyard after dinner to compare stories. I ended up talking to a very cute boy who was a year older, and try as we might to sneak away... well, there were chaperones everywhere. So, caught up in the moment and the romance, we agreed to meet on the beach at sunrise the next morning an hour before his group's bus left to take them back to Paris, the airport, and Australia.

We did, dear readers. At 6am, we met in the courtyard, snuck out of the gate, and scampered to the promenade overlooking the channel. After excruciatingly awkward small talk, he kissed me. The setting was perfect: waves crashed against the stone walls, rosy clouds flitted above the golden orb peaking above the horizon, seagulls called to one another over our heads... and the kiss was awful.

I mean, terrible. Of course I didn't know that then, since I'd never been kissed before, but I can tell you now - twelve years and several (ahem) kisses later - that it was a horrible kiss. But it was blissful nonetheless. After all, I'd had my first kiss in France with an Australian! I was in heaven for the rest of the program, and my destiny to become part of an international couple was set.

18 comments:

  1. May I just say, in defence of my country, that not all Australians are terrible kissers. Some of them are very, very good (my husband, for instance).
    Now, those New Zealanders...terrible kissers ;)

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    Replies
    1. A few years later, an orchestra from a school in Sydney came to the States and my school hosted them for a week - don't worry, Australia was redeemed ;)

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    2. Um, is there a sequel to this story?! I demand to hear more!

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  2. Nice story Betsy, it's really funny!
    Ok I know that now you are engaged but ... you have to try and Italian man!!!
    Yeh, yeh!
    I know, I'm italian ... Sara has a half-italian husband so ... ask her!!!
    Have a great week end.
    Biosus, Babi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gurrrrl, I hear ya. I had so many other nationalities I wanted to kiss, but I fell in love, and it just ruined all my plans. ALAS.

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  3. My first school trip to France, aged 11 was to Paris followed by a week in Saint Malo. It is a very magical place and will always be special to me. Nice story even if the kiss was a disappointment!

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    1. it is such a magical place! I've been Frack to France (and even lived in Paris for 8 months when I was 20) but haven't yet returned to Saint Malo. one day...

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  4. Seems like you are pretty busy, Sara! Have fun!
    And thanks for sharing your story, Betsy! I love to read about other international couples! I will definitely visit your blog!

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  5. Replies
    1. you know, I remember exactly what I was wearing that night - a white Gap tee and navy American Eagle shorts, hello 2001! - but I can't remember his name...

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  6. Kissing an Australian was on my kissing to-do list when I lived in France. I mean, their accents are SO sexy. I did get around to it, but it wasn't exactly as originally intended... One of my best friends and fellow (former) au pairs is Australian, and even though she's hetero, she kissed a lot of women in Paris, including moi.

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    Replies
    1. psh totally counts no matter that it wasn't what you'd planned ;)

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  7. All first kisses should be so memorable. It was probably the same for him . . .inexperience!

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  8. Awww man - I'd kill for a first kiss story that good! Haha - but in all seriousness, what a cool experience. There is nothing like that first adventure overseas and the excitement of realizing how many news things the world holds. Lovely story!

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