a few words about miss chelsea elizabeth...

she likes: making kites, dancing in the rain, adventures, little-while friends, letters, whole-leaf tea, crayons, bare feet, jumping in rivers/streams/creeks/waterfalls, language, catching the clock as it changes numbers, sleepovers, trains (big or small), cuddling & waking up before the sun rises, among other random things.

oregon-born, seattle-raised, bellingham-bred and franco-refined, she had moved back to the states from her affairs across the atlantic & now resides in columbia city with french husband & love of her life rémy. they spend most of their time taming the garden, taking care of their three chickens & two cats, and preparing the urban homestead for a new little chick of their own.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

eyes closed, i learned to see

it was then, at 3:56 in the afternoon, another saturday spent in bed, that she realized it. the people on her walls, the places she had been, the things she had seen. she closed her eyes & felt his lips on the back of her neck & wished that he was there.

it came all at once, a sudden rush of images.

panorama of zion/s peak, majestic cliffs & the clash of colour. kissing her baby sister/s smooth round cheek & the gentle scent of youth that hides itself deep in children/s mess of hair. the downpour that cold afternoon in d.c. the first time she saw the eiffel tower. the clatter of children/s laughter, of a foreign tongue, & the hot dusty streets of a summer day in rural tijuana. times square under three feet of snow. the excitement, waiting there in that dark corner between those two old couches in the house on indiana street, waiting to be found; it always smelled of earth in there, earth & anticipation. lying in a field of buttercups. walking down the cement walkway in front of the old house for the first time, holding her pregnant mother/s hand & entirely conscious of her sagging pink wool tights. the deep smell of wood that filled the yard when her father was hard at work in the garage. afternoons in her bathing suit & tennis shoes, mowing the back lawn & working on her tan. skinny dipping in a lightening storm, smiling because of friendship & freedom, but mostly because she was finally in waters she recognized from back home. lying, sprawled on her back, in her living room that summer afternoon, listening to the song on the stereo much too loud. chuckanut drive. cloves & red wine in the rain. his back porch on winter nights. watching the sun slip behind seattle from that perch behind the tennis courts. the feeling in her stomach right before she jumped, whether at whatcom falls or into the columbia or by herself in the mountains in taiwan. rice paddies. seeing the tears in his eyes as he whispered softly "te amo" and slowly pulled his hand away. the sand dunes at sunset. one foot in one ocean & one foot in the other, no matter which, she couldn/t tell you now or then, but the unexplainable joy of the first time she found herself in two places at once. her down comforter. the top of the peak there at 3am; covered in dirt & snow & sand & sweat, exhausted but satisfied, it felt like she had conquered so much more than just a mountain. the tree at lorel park in mid-october. slipping her hand into his unnoticed. tidepools. the pacific ocean. fields & fields of tulips. her grandmother/s fingers gentle in her hair. trains. coffeehouses & open mic nights in seattle back when she still had a dream. late night diners with an open journal & a cigarette. her open arms there at the finish line. waking up to her old cat curled up, a ball of warmth beside her, the rain in the gutters so close above her bed. road trips. her first train ride east to spokane, with her sister, winding slowly through the mountains. ribbons & bows & feathers in her father/s hair. fingers softly, slowly, gently tracing the treble clef on her upper back. the pots of colour in yellowstone, the river, the tent, the ruts still in the ground from the pioneers/ trek west. the lights of the night ferry across to nanaimo. butterflies in the mountains of taiwan. his half smile. waking to cliffs off the pacific. the open road. lying with her head in her mother/s lap, protected.

their faces beaming, they all came to kiss her forehead softly and gently squeeze her hand three times no need to even whisper those simple words because inherently she knew.

they all did.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Friday, October 5, 2007

vivante à vichy

a gust of wind and the shutters of my window against the wall catch my attention. the sunlight still rests softly on the red-tiled roofs across the quiet street below, and yet a light rain has begun to dance upon my awning. i can hardly contain myself. i let the tears flow freely.

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it/s the first time my tears haven/t been filled with pain, frustration or loneliness since my arrival. in retrospect, it/s only been a week since i/ve been in france, and yet it feels like it has been an eternity.

this has, no doubt, been the hardest thing i have ever done in my life.

i can/t really explain why. i can/t explain why i felt so empty for the first few days. i/m sure the fact that i was leaving an incredibly comfortable life back home, leaving behind everyone i know and love, leaving behind freedom & adventure & the vagabond life of a poor college student. leaving my language and my culture. leaving my life, a life that i was completely and utterly in love with.

but it was more than that. living in france has always been my dream. teaching in france has always been my dream. and i/ve worked incredibly hard, and i/ve deserved this, and now i have it. i think that/s it. for the past eight years, essentially, this is what i/ve worked for. i/ve gone through other phases, sure. journalism. environment. english. health/medicine. and eventually history. but french was always there. when nothing else wasn/t, when nothing else could fulfill me, french was there to comfort me. one might even go as far to say "france is my anti-drug"...

or perhaps that is pushing it a bit...

regardless, this has always been my dream, and now i/m living it. now i have it. and there is a lot of responsibility that comes with this job, for sure, but there is this sort of creeping emptiness about the whole situation. to the extent that, once i am done here, what else do i have to live for? not to be overdramatic, but that has basically been the subtext of my inner dialogue for the past few weeks. after this, what the hell do i do with myself? i left everything i know & everything i love to lose everything?

AND...gain everything. or so i have come to see these past few days.

i remember a few years ago, perhaps around high school graduation, perhaps even as far back as eighth grade graduation, my father making a comment haphazardly about the people i tend to associate myself with. "chels," he said, nonchalantly. "you really have the most amazing friends." it was sort of a wake up call. i stepped back & looked around and realized that he was absolutely correct. i may have drifted from crowd to crowd, i have gone through my phases and (as courtenay would say) changed as often (or moreso) as a a chameleon, but the friends i have kept, the people i surround myself with, are all incredibly beautiful people.

sometimes it/s too much. i can/t take it all. i can/t understand it. i mean, i kick a fair amount of ass myself, but compared to my friends? i am so honored. i am so so lucky to have people like them around.

and it was friends & family who truly helped open my eyes to the positive aspects of my séjour here in france. it was friends & family who helped me see that being radically emotional after such a drastic change is a natural & understandable & (gasp!) even healthy response. it was friends & family who calmed me when i needed it & let me cry when i needed it. & it was friends & family who told me that it would just take a little time for me to adjust. & voila! consider me adjusted! thank you so much, all of you, for being supportive. even if you think you had nothing to do with it, it probably means you most definitely did. i love you so much and think about you more often than you know.

but, enough of that sappiness. how about a little update on my life, shall we?

vichy is beautiful. a perfectly charming little town situated on the allier river.
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especially this time in autumn, where the leaves are just starting to catch fire, little flames aglow at all times on the cobblestone paths below.

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i/m living in a room at the top of a house owned by an adorable older couple, danielle & jacques. the street is quite quaint, and the view from my window is simply breathtaking.

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the streets are adorable...

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as are the people...

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i will be teaching at three different schools, nine classes total, ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade. quite the spread, if you ask me. and it will be quite the challenge, but i/m looking forward to it. it will be very rewarding work, as these kids are simply adorable.

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all in all, things are going fairly well. i have yet to make a single friend that is not in my work place or at my home, and yet i see beauty in everything and am enjoying my days thoroughly. friends will come easily now that i am at ease with life itself.

i miss you everyone immensely and would love a visit or two, or perhaps a letter. please do not hesitate to write. i would simply love to be your penpal. you may reach me at:

mlle chelsea elizabeth
26 impasse Arnaud
03200 VICHY france

/tis time to return to the river for yet another cheap & delicious dinner.

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je vous aime tant!
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gros biz de vichy! ♥