And, lovin’ it!!!
Vilay stands in the hall of our apartment building arranging the box holding our new Swisscom phone under his arm. For about three days this phone has not allowed us to answer calls or call out. I have listened to my parents leave messages on our answering machine as I frantically swear under my breathe pushing button after button on the phone trying in vain to pick up the line. I must thank my mother here and now for singing Happy Birthday to me on the machine. Mom, I was standing there the whole time listening to you sing beautifully out of tune with two girls jumping up and down singing along with you. It was too cute.
After Vilay has tucked the phone warranty in a box under his arm he offers to take the two girls with him. The girls adore riding on the train and are quick to say, “Yes…yes…I want to go with Papa.” I am as quick to say, “Yes…yes…oh, please…go with Papa!”
I never am alone. Never. Having the next two hours alone with only Boy Blue pushing his highchair around the kitchen and living room will be like visiting heaven. I did take the highchair away from him even if it wasn’t too noisy. Our neighbors living under us are not happy with us living above them. These unhappy neighbors are two women that are living alone in a three bedroom apartment (4 1/2 pieces). We have been visited twice with ugly faces demanding that our children not cry at night and not make noises during the day. I told our landlord it was like living in a prison. He told me not to worry about it that I can’t tie down my two year old son all day. It is Boy Blue that is their noise nightmare. I told them in French that he is only two and asked if I should choke him for them? I told them that it is normal for a child of his age to fall from a chair, run indoors or occasionally drop toys. However, it is not normal for them to not understand this.
I don’t worry about it anymore. The normal noises of a family with three kids living above them are the price they pay for living in an apartment meant for a large family. I don’t think my landlord is going to easily replace us with a quiet tenant with no children willing to pay for a 4 1/2 piece apartment.
We are noisy. It is normal. The family above us has four children ages 5-14. I can hear all the noises of their life playing out above me. I don’t mind because that means they are happy and free to live in their home. Frankly, the unhappy neighbor’s below are lucky it is not the family above me that is above them. I am sure they are much noisier and fight almost nightly. If the ladies underneath us don’t want a family with children living above them I would suggest not living in a large apartment that is made for families or at least finding a way to be on the top floor. Otherwise, they need to buy a house of their own.
Apartment living means that you are still in a sense ‘living’ with others. Besides, when it is not raining my kids are outside playing. If it is raining I say that is too bad for the unhappy neighbors. It does rain a lot here. :)
We have a routine. Each morning, we walk to the train station to get Le Matin Bleu and 20 minutes (two free newspapers). We take a tour of the village. Afterwards, I sit on a bench reading the papers as the children play around me. From the bench, I have our mountains spread out in all their glory before me.
Sometimes, I forget how beautiful it is here. Daily life takes over. Like the other day when we were at the park near our apartment. The kids were playing and we were joking. I looked up and the landscape took my breathe away. It was that perfect.
It was like a painting full of strong trees dark against the lighter green of the grass swooping and dipping up into the sky. I sat soaking the image up until Petite Clown broke the spell asking me over and over to push her on the swing. Because, when you are three you must ask one question at least three times in a roll with no pause in between as quickly as possible before doing it again with only a few seconds space between the sentences just to make sure that the grown up heard you. Needless to say, Petite Clown knows how to break even the most powerful of spells.
It is peaceful and calm in our village. I don’t worry about my children here. Everyone knows everyone. Life is as full of adventure here as in Strasbourg. It is simply a different kind of life.
Yesterday, I thought I heard Sweet Bear crying outside. No. It was not her. It was a goat in the yard at the beginning of our street. On our street we, also, have chickens and rabbits. As we wait for the train, we often watch horses eating grass in a small fenced in area across from the train tracks. All around our village are fields full of cows and horses. There is a community pasture that we walk through. Horses will come right up to you pressing their noses into your outstretched hand in greeting.
We are really in the nature here. We are not packed up in a city. Yet, we are not alone here either. We have a community. We are apart of something. Everyone knows about the Franco-American family. We are happy here.