My Six Month Lesson On Life

This past week has possibly been one of the best and most important weeks of my life. I realized so many new things about the me, my life, or the world we live in. It’s also never been so clear to me who I am as a person. It’s an incredible feeling to have. I don’t love every aspect of myself, physical or personality wise, because I’m not perfect. I’m the type of person who will become really excited to explore even a little castle, or even when I have a savory galette saucisse or a good cup of coffee (maybe that’s  just the caffeine though). I’m also the type of person who will walk away from you if you keep singing even though I’ve asked you to stop. I’m not the most patient person. I’m also not completely sorry that I’m not perfect. Nobody’s perfect, so why keep making excuses for it? I don’t think going rouge with our imperfections is the way to go either. Just be the best you can, always strive to better yourself, know you will make mistakes and own up to them so that you can move on. Forgiving others on their imperfections is also truly important thing that not enough people do, I’ve realized. It would have been a lonely six months if I didn’t forgive and forget. It’s a lot more fun joking with a friend about how cold the stone toilets in the castles must have been rather than laughing to yourself as the strangers around you slowly step away.
Also, sometimes when you meet a stranger, that individual can become an important person in your life in a matter of a day. Which brings me to Tuesday. A 9:09 train took me to Bayeux (a city in Normandy where a tapestry you probably have heard of is on display). There, a friend of a friend met me at the gare at around noon and took me to see the famous tapestry and show me around the town he works in during the summer. The large cathedral in Bayeux was beautiful along with the gardens and shallow, slow moving river. A lot of walking and talking was done and it wasn’t until we sat down at a table for lunch when I realized that, first, I’ve never had a ‘croque monsieur’ that he was talking so highly of, and second, that this was a really good idea to follow my gut and come here to hang out with an almost stranger for a day. I mean, he is a friend of a really good friend in California so I knew he couldn’t have been an axe murderer or something! I was maybe a little nervous because I didn’t know exactly what to expect. Was I going to waste one of my precious last days in France with someone who annoys me? I was hoping not. I’ve learned to not always listen to my melodramtic head completely if my gut and heart are telling me something else. My heart was telling me to go and travel despite of who you’re with and my gut was telling me this new friend would be alright. However, the funny thing about following your gut is that even though it’s most likely right, it still can’t tell you the full story of why it’s telling you to do this certain thing or go this certain place. It just tells you that you should. Being an overthinker, it’s hard to reason why to take such action when you can’t find one possibility that’s more probable than another, but after the first time I took a big leap in following my gut, it led me to France! Listening to your gut isn’t about reasoning with it or asking it questions. It won’t answer you. It tells you something short and you respond to it. In some cases our heart or your head and sometimes more than one of those are in your favor, and in the end it’s not usually an answer you can find on Goodle. I’m stressing this whole ‘following your gut’ thing because during this entire day, our conversation never was meaningless small talk but it also never went dry. We sat on a ledge at a beach not far from the D Day beach and talked for hours. Talking about how crazy and wonderful life is and cracking jokes every other sentence. It’s not everyday you get the chance to spend all day with someone who you have common interests with, can make endless amounts of inside jokes with in a matter of a few hours, and more importantly talk about life, death and faith with.
It’s been a long time since I’ve opened up a bible or closed my eyes to pray. I was slowly putting my faith farther and farther in the back of my mind. It wasn’t on purpose, it just happened as I went through this journey. I didn’t realize it was even happening until we were talking about how great He is and how He’s blessed our lives thus far. I’ve talked about God and my faith many times before, but never unexpectedly with someone my own age whom I didn’t even know as much as believed in God until the conversation came to light. I’m going to admit, even when my mind was in overdrive, thinking about even the most un-plausible outcomes of how the day would go, it for some reason didn’t think it come to talking about God.
It gives me immense faith in the world that people like my new found friend indeed exist and I’m not the only one who has values based on what the bible says and not society. It gives me hope that other people in this world can not know what’s in the future but love life anyway and keep Jesus by their side all the while.
To say the least, it was a day that really opened my eyes to myself, to God again and this crazy, wonderful world he has temporarily put us in.
The next morning was all smiles until the train pulled away from the station when the emotions hit me. It took me well until after lunch to sort through my emotions. I did a lot of crying and I wasn’t really sure why. Being overwhelmed is the best answer that I can give. Overwhelmed with emotions of joy and love for the lord and how I’ve never truly realized how important it is to feel Him like this in your heart, the refreshment of meeting another soul in this world that gives me hope, meeting someone that actually makes me believe in myself for a change and makes me believe that I may just be a little better than the bully in my head who I listen to too often, sad that my new friend basically lives a world away, scared I’ll lose this way of looking at life, God and my faith. and realizing that these past six months haven’t changed me as much as they’ve opened my eyes to what’s important in life and the kind of Christian I want to be. I’m determined to carry this growth with me throughout my life.
I know this may not make sense to some people reading this but, the right conversation with the right person at the right time in your life is something I wish everyone to experience. I also know that I take and feel things more deeply being a sensitive person, so I don’t even know if my friend feels the exact same way about our day! But I’m sure we can agree on the fact that sometimes, God comes to us in amazing ways.
I do know the day after the best day ever is something no one wants to face. Even though I had only left that morning, after lunch in downtown, it seemed like so long ago. I was exhausted by the time I got home, but I sorrowfully packed most all of my belongings that have accompanied me these past six months before laying down for a much deserved nap. I woke up in time to eat dinner with my family, then after, with food in my belly and an adequate amount of energy, Faustine took me to hang out with her friends at the soccer fields around her house. We didn’t return home too late, so I watched the movie, Boyhood. Great movie by the way, did you know it’s three hours? I didn’t…. I’m glad there’s finally a movie that realistically depicts the life of a modern day teenager (even though the main character, Mason, has a particularly hard life).
By the time Thursday rolled around I was feeling good about my life. I got past the rush of emotions that came with all the thinking and discovering that was done. I slept in late and ate a casual lunch with Natalie, Faustine and Maxent. Faustine surprised me best she could with my exchange friends unexpectedly showing up to my house along with about eight other of her friends from Thoringe, who I guess are my friends now too. We sat in the backyard snaking on undercooked crumble and sipping on coke or orange juice while chatting away. When dinner time came along, we all went to Rennes to get some kebab and eat it in a park. After we walked around and went to the popular Rue De Soif (I’ll let you translate that) to be in the upbeat nightlife that Rennes offers. However, if you’re with Faustine and her crew, the night is alive no matter where you go. After Stephane picked us up, a small group who could still be out went to the skate park in my town. They got some of my beloved cider and we all sat, talked and had a cup. I’m going to miss my friends here. I’m going to miss how, in general, the French are warm-hearted, contagiously joyful people. It was a melancholy walk home after all those goodbyes.
Friday, every week, is saying goodbye to the week and hello to the weekend. Along with that, this particular Friday was my last day in Rennes. I’m going to miss meeting my friends here and going shopping in all the boutiques. After finishing our burgers and my buying a duffle bag (for a good deal), I said my final goodbyes to Sirin and Joel. I will see Saku and Eliza tomorrow morning at the gare but I was still sad that it was out last time hanging out. I’ve been blessed to go through this amazing adventure with some really great people. A few tears slipped out during the bus ride back to my house. This bus 50 was another thing I was sad to say goodbye to for the last time, along with the walk home, giving a,”bonjour” back to the elderly women offering a smile to everyone who walked by always made my day a little brighter. I kept myself busy by cleaning my room and doing the very last of my packing. M. Vidal came over for a weird visit to have a discussion with me and my family about my exchange. Nothing was bad or tence, I just felt as though it was maybe unnecessary? After his departure was my final family dinner of my favorite pizza and tartiflette. It was a normal dinner which was nice. We did take some photos and talked about how crazy fast it’s gone by after dinner over coffee and TV. I’m now retired in my room. Clothes ready for tomorrow and alarm set.
Now I know that this blog may have sounded sad, but in all honesty, the majority of the time I was feeling content with leaving. I came here and achieved my goal, which I admittedly found out later in my program which was to enrich my life (again how the gut doesn’t tell you your future). I learned a language and a culture along with meeting some great people along the way and I found out things about myself and life that I never would have if I had stayed in Colorado. Also, I’m leaving France on a very high note and it’s just my gut telling me that my time here is coming to a close (I think despite what my plane ticket says) even though I still would love to stay here longer for many reasons. I’m a little terrified I will lose what I’ve learned and the feelings that come with it, but I’m preparing. I’m going to give myself reminders and start habits that will hopefully not let me forget how wonderful life is even with all the bad that goes on.
Man, who would have thought that Cassie Bricker would move to France for a semester? I still have a long journey to go for loving and having confidence in myself but I think I have a good start. I’m leaving this chapter of my life with more confidence in myself and with an excitement to see that the next one has in store for me. I’m 80% certain it won’t include as many baguettes though…
See you in 29 hours Colorado!

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