Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Lille, France.

Catch-up is still being played here in blog world. It's 2016 and I have absolutely no idea where the last year went. Like, no idea at all. I kind of feel like catch-up is being played in the real world too, because I've been busier than ever before, struggling to stay "in the know" with my friends and family, and struggling not to go straight to bed after work. That's new to me, work being so busy that I don't know where my days (and weeks and months) have gone - but hopefully it'll pay off.

Rewind to October, okay now stop!

I was able to jot down a bunch of "things to remember" notes in my phone when I traveled to Europe a few months back, from my first flight to Belgium, onward. I began with an older couple who sat across from me and looked as though they were on their honeymoon. They were so in love, and I mean kissing in between bites of pre-packaged airplane food in love, and I could not stop staring at them. I really wanted to ask them what their secret was: were they actual newlyweds, or had they been married for decades and still managed to be in love as ever? And if the latter, how do they do it? How are they still that happy?

I didn't ask. I thought it'd be better to stick with the romanticized idea of what I thought it was: true love. For better or worse, through sickness and health, year after year, everlasting kind of love.

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I hadn't initially planned on that little segue introducing my photos of Lille, but that's what came to mind when strolling down memory lane. And France is synonymous with love, right? So in theory, it's fitting.

I didn't spend enough time in Lille (not by choice!), but I knew right away that I would like it. I was absolutely fascinated by the culture. Espresso in the morning, wine in the evening, chain-smoking during and between. Effortlessly chic attire worn by all. It all felt very...foreign, which of course made sense, but it was even beyond that. It was so different from what I was accustomed to (minus the wine in the evening thing).

My adorable little apartment, which wasn't that little, contributed to that far-out feeling. I was used to hotel accommodations when I traveled; having my own apartment made me feel as though I had a brand new life. Rather than a vacation, it was like I had moved to France for work. Lille was my new home and every night after work, I'd use my key to unlock the door to my very own French apartment, with its very own French windows.

Well, I'd try to unlock the door to my very own French apartment. I couldn't manage to get out of the apartment building for dinner the first night, which was hysterical. There were three different (colored) doors to unlock: the door to the apartment itself (white), the door to the apartment building (blue), and a wrought iron security door (black) just beyond that. I was given a set of color-coordinated keys, so you'd think it'd be easy, but the last (and strongest I might add) door had jammed on me. After several unsuccessful attempts to get it open, I decided to go back up to the apartment (after unlocking two doors), opened my French windows, and threw the keys down to my colleague so he could try to open the door from the outside.

They fell underneath a car. (A sophisticated French woman I am not.)

After searching the cobblestone street with an iPhone flashlight, the keys were found, the door finally opened, and en route to dinner we were. We chose the closest restaurant to my apartment (Zango - I highly recommend it), and as soon as we walked in I could have sworn I heard R. Kelly subtly playing through the speakers. Well, that's because it was R. Kelly, which my German-speaking colleague confirmed. (Side note: my German colleague-turned-friend knew R. Kelly!) It was then and there that I thought mayyybe I could fit in here...
The apartment; the French windows.
And probably the cutest reading corner ever.
Kind of hard to say au revoir when your mornings start off like this...

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