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Little Moments

by Lauren | Celiac Teen on February 29, 2012

While wandering through town at sunset, I was struck by the need to write. To check in, here. To say hello, and that everything is splendid. Every other trip I’ve written about in this space has been short: a few days, or my first time in Europe- for three weeks. But this isn’t just a trip. It’s an adventure. I’ve been here, studying French in the French Alps for just shy of a month. I have a routine. I’m in tune with the rhythm of this place (more or less!). Most of all, I feel completely at peace.

There has been good, bad and wonderful while I’ve been here. The bad is short, but made me realize the distance from home fairly suddenly, when my cat was hit by a car. When I read those words, my heart fell. My eyes flooded, and before long, I was wandering to a new friend’s apartment searching for a hug. Boy, I miss that girl. She always knew how to make me smile. I love you, Magic.

Besides a touch of altitude sickness, everything else has been great. My classes can be tough, but I’m adoring this struggle. I’m relishing in those awkward moments where I search for a word, or do charades to explain what I’m trying to say. It feels right. I don’t think I’ve ever loved making mistakes as I do here. Tripping over my words, stumbling. Français is my job, currently. Even with my incredibly limited vocabulary and basic français, it’s magic. Everyday, I hear more. I understand even just one more word, one more turn of phrase.

By no means do I expect to be fluent, but I’m slowly becoming comfortable with the language. Comfortable with buying groceries, asking for vegetables at the market, and communicating with those around me, in this foreign tongue.

So often, I find myself walking. Sometimes, it’s en route to school. Others, I let my feet guide me and my eyes wander. I marvel at the cobblestones or the mountains as they turn pink at sunset. Every time, I see something new. Just the other day, I realized I have at least 3 chocolatiers within a two-minute walk of my front door, and that I haven’t set foot in any of them. That’s something I need to remedy soon.

Speaking of chocolate, one of my weekends here, I popped up to Switzerland. I’m still in disbelief that the phrase Switzerland for the weekend can be part of my life for a little while. Anyways, I went to visit Jenn. My darling friend, who lives with her husband Ryan en Suisse. Oui! C’est vrai! (Ahem. Sorry. We’ve been doing affirmations in class.)

We spent the weekend wandering through markets and visiting Chateau de Chillon, while not cooking and eating. We ate so well that weekend. From divine macarons and a selection of exquisite chocolate to homemade tomato sauce and incredible pancakes. Flavour, in each bite. My belly was happy, and my heart was full of beautiful scenes and great conversation. Thank you, Jenn and Ryan, for that weekend.

It’s funny. As much as I have so much to say, I’m also just starting to experience it all. I don’t know where to start. The biggest tales are still unfolding, memories yet to be lived. Right now, it’s the moments that shine through.

When a man stopped me in the street, asking about a bus, and I could answer him. I could speak to him, and even though I got one or two things confused, I answered all of his questions. He did say “thank you” rather than «merci», but that in itself was kind. He let me speak en français, even with my glaringly anglophone accent.

The jeune garçon, zipping by on his scooter, saying “Ding-dong! Ding-dong!” Even the French folks ahead of me were surprised, joking about getting the door.

When l’homme qui m’a vendu la fromage sold me exactly €10,00 worth of cheese. Speaking of cheese, all of the dairy is seriously good here. Like… totally. And all of a sudden I sound like an awkward teenager (well…. I am. A bit. Okay, more than a bit. Okay, I’m going to stop talking now. Okay, like yeah. Like totally.) That’s how good the dairy is. It makes me lose my real words. Don’t even get me started on the yaourt. I’m mildly obsessed. Scratch the mild. I’m obsessed. Especially yaourt nature avec confiture myrtilles sauvages stirred in. Yes. Oui. Get on that.

Skiing in -25°C in the Alps. Each time the chairlift pulled us over a peak, we had another sunrise. I must have seen 5 sunrises that day. I was spoiled, even if I was frozen to the bone. Not to mention, with ice crystals in the air, we skied through a few clouds of glitter. The whole world was sparkly. It’s hard not to romanticize a glittery world, where the Alps are every direction you look, raw and strong as they cut into the sky.

In stark contrast, skiing this past weekend meant taking off excess layers, and a few moments of reclining on chaises soaking up the sun before continuing our run. Besides the altitude sickness I got from the 2000+ meter change through the day, it was beautiful.

With that, I’m here. Ma vie en France has just begun. I flew out here on January 30th: the day that marked four years since my celiac diagnosis. Four years since my life changed in a huge way, allowing the possibility of health. This past 30 janvier, I changed my life in a huge way. Both of those changes have been huge, incredibly fulfilling ones. I’m grateful for both the one that was handed to me, and this one, that I chose and chased.

Dream big. Happy Leap Day, my friends.


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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite February 29, 2012 at 4:51 am

Happy Leap Day to you Lauren. So glad you are having the chance to dream bit and leap this year. Loving following your adventures through images XOX

Brian @ A Thought For Food February 29, 2012 at 5:01 am

How happy you sound… Which makes all of us so happy too! You are on a journey and I have no doubt you’ll come out the other end a completely different person.

And, I must say, I’m jealous of the cheese you are consuming. Oh the memories I have from my honeymoon… My husband and I eating beautiful, ripe cheese on a park bench… Just scooping it up with a fresh baguette

Jenn February 29, 2012 at 5:35 am

Aww we had such a great time hanging out with you Lauren! Glad you enjoyed your weekend en Suisse and are making the most of every moment – happy leap day :)

Zita February 29, 2012 at 5:40 am

I follow you on Instagram (@ziziadventures) so I saw your photos that you uploaded but it was so good reading this post.

Kate February 29, 2012 at 8:18 am

So sorry to hear about your cat, Lauren :( I remember meeting her ever so briefly. It’s so hard to lose a pet. <3

Glad you're having a wonderful time – it all sounds marvelous :)
Take care, and keep updating us!

Barb February 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm

I know how you felt/feel about your cat. My cat, who was my baby, died when I was in Spain visiting my daughter. You are enjoying an incredible opportunity and seem to be just drinking it in.

Isabelle February 29, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Thanks for the update Lauren! I’m so jealous of you, and it sounds like you’re having a great time. I can’t wait to hear more about the place you’re living in future posts. I’m thinking back to all the amazing cheese and yogourt I ate in France … you’re right, it truly is amazing.

Gluten Free Bumble Bee March 1, 2012 at 8:37 am

I *love* this post! I am a mom of a celiac and I have so many dreams for him – when I read about your adventure it helps to affirm that he is going to be able to have great adventures too as he grows up :)

Did you ever think your blog would be an inspiration to the mom’s out there?

I’m excited for you to have this opportunity and wish that I had done something like that when I was your age!

Alessa March 2, 2012 at 4:56 pm

😀 Sounds like a great time! The photos are really beautiful!
It’s hard to get better dairy products than in central/western Europe. France does make the best cheese, and I always miss the yoghurt and German quark when I’m outside of Europe. Don’t miss the buckwheat galettes. So yummy!

Donna March 3, 2012 at 1:20 am

I love all the pictures! The Alps are beautiful. After my niece graduated from college, she went to Switzerland (French speaking area) for a year as a Nannie. She didn’t like the people and quit to work in a restaurant. There she met her future husband, and has made Switzerland her home. She teaches in a college there. They travel to Italy and other countries, and she e-mails me pictures of different areas. You are lucky to be able to live there! I’m French, but hardly know any words in French. My parents wanted us to speak English, but my Dad would be speaking in English and finish in French!

Morri March 5, 2012 at 6:55 am

Hello Lauren!

As a girl who spent six months in Sweden, I understand a bit of what you’re going through (though I am so jealous of your weekend with Jenn!! :]).

I am so sorry about Magic. I don’t know what else to say about that.

On a lighter note, I adore your photos! Please keep up with posting your great adventure. I particularly LOVE the last photo of you. Way to show your Canadian awesomeness… and those glasses!!!

Kate March 7, 2012 at 9:38 am

For some reason, I’ve only just discovered your blog, but I am already enjoying your recipes! I love how you are “relishing” in the awkward moments of learning the language. I think I’m the opposite, shrinking away from using my newly acquired French when I forget how to say something. Good for you! :) If you get the opportunity to come to Paris, there is a brand-new gluten free bakery, Helmut Newcake, you’ll have to try! We’ve only been once, but will be trying it for brunch very soon! Merci pour tous les recettes!

sprevorb31 March 9, 2012 at 8:47 am

I’m sorry to hear about your cat, but glad you are enjoying your trip. Your writing just swept me away, it felt so peaceful reading it. And your pictures are beautiful! Have a great time!

Julie March 11, 2012 at 8:57 pm

So so wonderful! I’m so happy your experience is so great. And jealous of those macarons!

Rochelle March 12, 2012 at 10:26 am

I first want to give you my condolences. I know what it’s like to be so far and loose a dear friend/family member.

Now that I’ve done that, I want to tell you how glad I am to hear that the rest has been so great! I know the feeling of being able to communicate to someone in a different language or at the very least understand what they are saying to you! And you have an upper hand in having taken French before you moved and are taking a class while there (Let’s just say I’m jealous about that!!).

Oh and cheese… yeah cheese in Europe is ridiculously good. Do they make most of the cheeses in France with goat’s and/or sheep’s milk instead of cow? My Portuguese relatives think us North American’s are silly for making most of our cheese from cow’s milk.

DessertForTwo March 14, 2012 at 9:41 am

Such a sweet post. I really enjoyed reading it

Sending lots of happiness your way,

Halle March 26, 2012 at 3:50 pm

It sounds like such a great vacation! It’s heartening to know that there’s a fellow 18-year-old out there who is having so many adventures and has so much figured out. I hope I can do that next year!
Also, I so appreciate your blog. My mom was diagnosed with Celiac about two years ago and ever since then I’ve gotten a lot of great recipes and baking inspiration off your site. :)

kyleen April 4, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Your life right now, it sounds like a dream! You’re so lucky that you’re living it. Those macarons look so, so good! I can’t wait to see what else you’re up to.

John C. April 8, 2012 at 3:33 am

Joyeuses Pâques, Lauren! I found your blog when searching online for gluten-free pierogis to buy for Easter, and instead I made your recipe. Simple and delicious, thank you! I am very impressed by your wonderful and positive writing, your beautiful photos, and by your initiative en France. You are an inspiration to dads of celiacs, too. I will share your site with my 8-year-old daughter, and we’ll follow you and your adventures.

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