The past week has taught me a lot about my legs--more specifically, that they're in way worse shape than they used to be. It surprised me to realize that when I last left the blogosphere, I'd had only one day at the American Center, and that feels like a century ago. Since then, my legs have carried me to and from home each day and all over Aix countless times.
I've had tons of little victories in the past week and a half. First and foremost, my host family: Charles, having been scolded over dinner, informed his parents that he no longer has to be polite with me because I'm part of the family. The music of OSteel has filled the house on several evenings, and Ève's improvised dances are endearing to no end. Ulmine has quickly learned that if she walks up to me and immediately throws herself on her back, I will grudgingly scratch her belly. I know she's just using me, but I have faith in our friendship.
On Friday, after a lengthy tour of Notable Places in the city (for which, of course, I forgot my camera) and the much-awaited meeting with our language partners, my legs and I went out with a mix of Americans and our new French friends. We sloppily ate large slices of pizza, standing, and then moved on to a bar. Paragraph break for dramatic effect:
Ladies and gentlemen, I had my first legal drink in a bar called The Wohoo. I kid you not. The Wohoo.
The name suggests that my evening should have been far more rambunctious than it actually was. I had just the one beverage and traipsed home on the early side with all my wits about me, quite pleased with my evening. I already knew that I wasn't going to be much for sortir-ing here, but so far that hasn't stopped me from enjoying myself.
The next day, a group of friends and I hopped a bus to the village of Vauvenargues, where we planned to hike Mont Sainte-Victoire, made famous by the work of Cézanne. After having gone the length of the town and back without finding the trail we wanted ("leave town, go three meters, and turn left" was apparently too complicated), we settled for another that took us through the countryside at the foot of the mountain, but did not ascend. While it wasn't quite what we'd hoped, we did see some beautiful scenery, and even ran across the remains of an old stone house.
By the time we'd returned to Vauvenargues, caught the last bus back to Aix, and dined on sandwiches and fougasses at a twenty-four-hour boulangerie, my legs were exhausted, the good kind of tired that comes from hours of activity rather than laziness. Fortunately, they had enough stamina to make the final walk home.
On Sunday, I went to the beach with my host family at Carry-le-Rouet. On the way, we got a flat tire, which promised to be something of an adventure until we magically ran into a mechanic who had the necessary tools and WD-40 to dislodge the stubborn flat. Once at the sea, I forgot my camera existed until the last minute--I was far too preoccupied with the sun and the calm, cool, crystal-clear Mediterranean.
It's now nearly one in the morning on Friday, and I cannot justify documenting every moment of the past few days because a) I need to sleep and b) no one wants to read that. A last word, however: I've decided to take a ballet class this semester at the Academie de Danse d'Aix, and to be honest, my legs don't remember much of that. Two years is a long time to not dance. Wednesday's two-hour session felt like deciphering a code, not only with my feet but with my ears--hearing all the French terms pronounced correctly, rather than the familiar poor American approximations, made me even slower to catch on.
I can feel that wonderful second-day-after soreness beginning to set in. My legs and I are going to have a good semester.