5/13/16

Vive la Liberte

Five Things I Learned by Traveling to France

1. Funny things makes friends out of strangers. 
Three instances taught me this: 

Instance #1: When the Egyptian guy in the Chicago airport thought the TSA agent was being serious when he told us to empty our pockets of all things, including lint. He looked very concerned (what are you hiding in your lint, hmmmm?) and I had to tell him it was just a joke and we laughed and then chatted for so long in line that eventually he invited me to smoke hookah with him and his friends in Milwaukee sometime. I politely told him he was a strange man in an airport and no thank you, and he said foreigners are friendlier than Americans but he understood and gave me his phone number just in case. (I still have it.) 

Instance #2: When the Indian woman sitting next to me on the plane said not one word to me the entire 8.5 hours from Stockholm to Chicago, not one word, even though I know she noticed that I was discreetly watching her movies from my seat to see if they looked interesting enough for me to watch. (She kept glancing over at my screen every time I started a new movie, and I tried to stare straight ahead with an expression that said, "I came up with the idea to watch this movie all by myself.")
Then as we were preparing to land, the pilot gave some long Scandinavian instructions to his flight crew and, when he'd finished, translated succinctly into English, "Cabin crew, sit." 
I giggled. 
The Indian woman giggled. 
We looked at each other for the first time in eight hours
She said, "It's like they're puppies," and I laughed and said, "I was thinking the same thing!" 

Instance #3: When the guy on the tram that takes you from the Chicago airport to remote parking looked at my guitar and said, "You must be a professional if you're going to carry that thing around the airport." 
I nodded to his five pieces of luggage he was engulfed by and responded, "Says the guy who's carrying around an entire department store." 
He laughed and from there I learned that he just came from Mexico where he was in a wedding and he needed to pack seven different pairs of shoes just in case he needed gray ones or brown ones (depending on his pants). He just moved out of Chicago, so "It will take me 2 hours to get home from here, how bout you?" 
"It depends on how much longer I decide to ride this tram," I responded, and he laughed again, and we're getting married next June. 
(Just kidding. He didn't even tell me his name, unlike the Egyptian guy. Americans are so rude. Hesham was right.)

2. European Netflix is different from American Netflix. 
"I CAN'T WAIT TO WATCH MODERN FAMILY WHEN I GET HOME I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS MOMENT FOR SO LONG MODERN FAMILY IS ON NETFLIX GONNA LOG IN AND WATCH IT HERE I GO YAY YAY YAY WAIT WHERE IS IT WHERE'S MODERN FAMILY WHERE DID IT GO WHY ME LORD I'M MOVING TO FRANCE GOODBYE."

3. Where canola oil comes from. 


This is the view that welcomes you to France: Fields of colza which gives us canola oil (and engine lubricant, apparently) and smells like feet. Isn't it pretty? Did you ever wonder where canola oil comes from before this? I did, all the time. JK I never did.

4. How to say "pigeon" in French. 



"Pee-jo," basically, only prettier. I also learned how to say "socks" and "don't drink this water" in German (which I thankfully learned before it was too late). I spent the whole week with the Rooses and they taught me a lot. I'm very humbled by the love which this family responds out of daily. Their generous and sincere hearts make me so very grateful to know them and to have been a part of their family for the week. (Pictured: Fayth, Hannah, Tony, and a stately building in Dijon, France. Not pictured: Raeni, pigeons, mustard.)


5. Freedom comes in letting go.


These are the Alps, as seen from Annecy, France. 
I don't think it's any secret that I did not plan to end up living in Wisconsin and working for an insurance company. My plan looked much different and others' plans for me looked much different, too. And I've been feeling the burden and weight of those dead plans and dreams and I think I've been trying to resurrect them or repaint them somehow, or something similar.
But as I sat in an empty field and stared at these mountains, I felt very strongly that God was telling me to "be free." Be free from past plans and others' plans and the expectations of being female or 20-something or Christian or single or a pastor's kid or a businesswoman or artsy or brainy or blah blah blah, the list goes on. Just let go of all the expectations that I or anybody else has placed on me, and let God build something new, and delight in the newness without trying to salvage any of the old pieces to incorporate in the new building. There is freedom when you let go of expectations and old plans and old ways of doing things, when you just let go and let them drift away like curled-up leaves that float atop the water like little boats, not anchors. Freedom in just being you and being happy with being you, today, undefined by anything past, present, or future.

It's a new day. Be free each new day.