The theme of this blogpost has been warbling around my brain for months, masquerading as a dull ache that occasionally breaks free and manifests itself as a sigh. Try as I might, I can't seem to find the words to express my ache, except to say, I miss it.
I miss France. I miss Lyon. I miss our life as a family there. This Christmas break, I've had the chance to start labeling photo albums. Each picture evokes such poignant memories that I can't help but regret the passing of this special time. Pathetic as it sounds, one glimpse at Google Maps sends me into fits of nostalgia. For most people, phrases like Le Parc Tête d’Or, Les Halles Paul Bocuse, La Passerelle du College, La Croix-Rousse, L’île Barbe, La Porte des Alpes, and La Place Bellecour are empty. For me, however, these names are saturated with vibrant memories.
Say "Massena" and I can feel the rough paving stones bumping beneath the wheels of our double-stroller on our way to the metro. I can smell the fresh-baked pastries wafting from La Banette, and hear myself scolding the girls for dragging their feet. I see the market we pass on the way, brilliant with bustling people and fresh produce on Wednesday morning, stale with empty crates and leftover garbage by Wednesday afternoon. I picture our pear and fig pizza as we pass Picard, feel the rough recycled toilet paper from Schlecker, and taste the army of pains au chocolat that stripped my pockets of loose change. I chuckle at the sight of the bright yellow corner stand advertising both "crêpes and huîtres"(oysters). I hear organ music filling a frigid stone church on Christmas and recollect a kind butcher selling Kosher bread on Easter. I smile at our two blond-headed girls sliding down the granite stairs outside each apartment that we pass. All of these memories from a single word...
Needless to say, I could fill volumes with these recollections. (I suppose this blog proves that I already have...) As this decade unfolds, it's hard to balance remembering the old with welcoming the new. Few things are more obnoxious than those who insist on reliving past glory years, incessantly (and usually inaccurately) recollecting how wonderful things were at another time in another place. At the same time, however, I don't want to forget our experience in Lyon. While challenging, our sojourn really was wonderful. If we forget, it's almost as if it never happened. I long to remember. I relish the ache. Like a pinch after a dream, the smart of missing reminds me that the experience was real.
Lyon happened. We are changed. And I miss it.