The past four months have been the loneliest I’ve ever experienced, no thanks to me. My reaction to life in a new country has been to hole myself up and reject most social interaction---hardly a path to happiness, but what do I know when I have never lived away from home for so long before.
On the eve of my departure, Marie and I exchange e-mail addresses. We’ve been living together since January but our interaction has been fairly limited---she has her parents house to go back to every weekend, not to mention her ongoing three-way relationship keeping her busy. When we’re both in Chambéry, I spend my time in class, walking around the hills north of our apartment, or shut in my room. Our conversations, which have been pleasant and fun, are when we both happen to be in the tiny kitchen having breakfast at the same time. Most have centered around Nutella.
Marie and I hug and she hands me a slip of paper with her address along with a small gift, a pair of earrings that will faire ressortir le vert de tes yeux, bring out the green in my eyes. The simple gesture, like so many others I’ve experienced in the week leading up to my departure, makes me wish I could go back to the beginning and start all over. I wish I’d had the courage to be real friends with you, I want to say. But I don’t.
I tuck the piece of paper into one of my books knowing that I’ll probably never take it out again. Years have since passed, and like the red poppies that I once collected outside Clémence’s house in Normandie and pressed inside the pages of one of my journals, I have no idea where that slip of paper is now. But it’s nice to know that it’s somewhere, and if I ever feel like looking, I might be able to find it again.