I never thought I’d have the chance to say that and mean it literally, but it’s true.
I’m living in a rambling old collége, a boarding school, probably 200 years old if not more, with an 18th century Jesuit church attached. My bedroom has 20 foot ceilings and a teeny fireplace. The windows in the hallway look out over the courtyard, which the church forms one side of. I was coming back from the kitchen the other evening and heard these giant crows (or maybe ravens) making a racket as they perched on the steeple; and as I stopped to watch all these bats came flying out of the bell tower.
So now I say hi to them each evening; I was listening to Loreena McKennitt sing Yeats’ “The Two Trees” and watching them dart around in the dusk while the cathedral bells were ringing and I thought, Oh yeah. This is why I came here. It’s so ridiculously Romantic it kills me.
The French for bat, incidentally, is chauve-souris: a bald mouse.
I’m getting settled in; Verdun is a nice, fairly ordinary town with an understandably morbid streak. There are about five thousand monuments to the dead; but I like it; the river Meuse runs right through it and there’s a pretty little park five minutes from my flat. Still wrangling with the bus schedule.
It helps that I’m living with another American, also teaching at the local schools. She’s lived in England, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and just finished 2 years in Madagascar with the Peace Corps (she’s only 26), so she’s got this whole living abroad thing down solid. I pretty much follow her around like a puppy dog and do whatever she does. My French is better than hers, though, which keeps me from feeling like a midwestern hick. And she has two dads, so there’s at least one person in France I don’t have to watch my pronouns around.
I’m missing my books something awful; I bought Joanne Harris’ Jigs and Reels in Heathrow and am stretching it out as much as possible. Last night I did the unthinkable and actually skipped ahead in Life Mask, just to double check that there is, in fact, actual Sapphism occuring and not just scandalous rumors of it. I never skip ahead, and Emma Donoghue is an author I trust implicitly. But I guess I was needing some reassurance or something. The Girl hasn’t emailed me back yet, and I haven’t found a tabac that sells La dixiéme muse (surprise); I did find Tétu, but like The Advocate, I refuse to buy it until there’s a woman on the cover.
But, luckily, I’ve found this cheapo internet place that’s full of 15 year old boys playing computer games, so I can keep up on my blog reading and email.