“I love living in France,” I said to Chris as we drove home from the grocery store today. “I love living in a place long enough to go to the grocery store twice. Then, you are really comfortable, you feel at ease because you know where to find things, and you can really look at what you are buying.”
“What are you most excited about that we bought today?” asked Chris as he was writing in his journal, “besides the wine” (our 5 liter jug((and i do mean jug)) of red table wine rang in under 6 Euro, and while we consider it ‘drinkable,’ is delicious with the price tag).
I replied, “I would have to say, the cornishons, and the Compte cheese because they are totally new.” Cornishons are small pickles that I have had before because my Meme liked them, and would buy them, and the Compte is due to a suggestion by my dear brother Jeremie. The bread we bought today was from a new-to-us bakery in St. Pons. It is not extraordinary, in fact, it is the closest thing to American “French” bread that I have had here, but the man working at the store was one of the nicest people we have encountered so far, so we will be back on our next day off.
Another interaction leading to my satisfaction is our Post Office experience. The French post office in St. Pons is much more professional looking than the office in Premian (St. Pons is also a much larger town). In order to enter the building, you must press a button which unlocks the door. Inside, the room was brightly lit, with white walls, white linoleum floors, and two four sided displays showing off the boxes available for purchase at a variety of sizes, destinations, and of course, costs. We also saw ourselves in profile from the surveillance camera as we stood patiently among the relaxed patrons of the office. A kind looking balding man, and slight woman with short curling hair stood behind one long desk, assisting the customers, and soon, the space in front of the woman became open for us to fill. She was wearing a long heather-grey sweater, we noticed along with other differences, that these personnel were not required to wear a uniform, unlike ours at home. The woman and I had a real, honest to goodness conversation there at that desk. There were words I didn’t know, several in fact, but we worked it out, and I was able to send a package for our hosts, and we were able to buy more stamps for post cards. The conversation was convoluted, like a maze, really, but, diligent rat that I am, I backed out of each dead end, and triumphantly nibbled on the block of Compte Cheese at the end.
The story has now come full circle, and you only know about life up until 11 a.m. today! Well, the day went along without much in the way of events worth noting, though in the evening, I again transacted a conversation with a real, live Frenchman, this time about his lost dogs. Dinner was lovely, The animals survived another day, We washed the laundry, etc. At about 4 p.m., however, Chris mentioned the inauguration of the President of the United States was to occur the self-same evening (for us, though it would be morning for the President).
A confession: neither Chris nor I believe that President Obama is the second coming. Though we do often favor him, we didn’t have many preconceived notions about what we would take away from the experience. During election season, we hosted third-party-debate-viewing parties with our friends during election season that we look back upon quite fondly. To be honest, though neither said anything until the proceedings were over, we were both nervous about safety at the high profile event, and so both breathed more easily once it was all over.
The only way we were able to get access to live streaming, though we tried a variety of sources, was through the CNN app for Android. It downloaded quickly and worked very well; we were happy to be able to watch the entire event. Notable things we learned from the night include: James Taylor performed (love him!), the Bible that President Obama used as he was sworn in to office is the personal Bible of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was mentioned several times, as this year is the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s Speech at the Lincoln Memorial. President Obama and others also categorized Gay Rights as a Civil Right, a historic move, and also indicated quite clearly the need to address Global Climate Change as a requirement of our stewardship of this earth. Amen.
– for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.
My second confession for the night is that I often second-guess my decision to be a teacher. I stress, and worry, and lament the treatment of teachers, and the attitudes of students in America. I have wondered if the lack of job opportunities in Kirksville is an easy out for me to skip past my insecurities relating to the role of teacher. The proceedings of the inauguration were, to use one of my favorite words the way I like to use it best, awesome. (Aside from Kelly Clarkson, and somewhat long invocation), I was totally in awe. I heard so many affirmative words about equality, and a grounded sort of hope that our government can work toward a “more perfect union.” I really was renewed in my hope that the evolution of our nation can move in the direction toward what is most perfect for our world at this time. I was so personally touched by many points during the event, including the speech of President Obama, and by the benediction of Rev. Dr. Luis Leon, that I my mind set forth the resolution that I do want to be a teacher, I do want to have the opportunity to positively affect others daily. I became resolved that hope remains, and for me, it was renewed.
Then, literally the only thing that could have adequately completed the event occurred. Beyonce sang the National Anthem. It was so good that I had the full-body-shivers. Full disclosure: I have loved Beyonce (though I knew her as Destiny’s Child at the time) since my first mp3 player and bus rides home from school in the seventh grade. Turn the volume up:
During the beginning of the event, President Obama looked as though the smile that crept forth had taken over complete control of his face. There was no way that he could look out upon the tens of thousands of people waving American flags, a crowd dotted with children on shoulders and teaming with excitement without responding with joy. After the rescessional of officials and important guests, the camera followed President Obama as he entered the shadows of White House, turned around, and stepped to the side. He was no longer beaming, but looking out at the masses steadily and contentedly. It was a moment uncommented upon, but deeply personal. It looked as if he simply wanted to take a moment to fully experience the event, one day amongst all that has transpired, and all that will. I thought to myself, “I feel proud to be an American.”
We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.