Is it bad that I don't want to leave yet?
12.05.2015 - 19.05.2015 18 °C
This is going to be my final solo post from The Adfrenchures: 2014-2015!
I managed to score one of those super-cheap buttcrack of dawn tickets to Paris for Sunday morning (so cheap because it is early enough that there are no buses and you have to get up even earlier to give yourself time to walk the mile and a half to the station). But that’s alright, because I get to meet Eva’s plane on the other side! We’ve already planned a few Parisian adventures, but neither of us wants to spend too much time there. So we’ll come back to Besançon for picnics in the parks, crêpes from the grumpy street vendor, and probably more pastries and cheese in one week than what I have eaten in nine months…
And speaking of delicious things, as I write this, I am finally savoring a stack of successful pancakes. It’s been a while!
I have also started the pre-packing process. I have acquired quite the collection of stuff over the last nine months (mostly books and clothes), and am figuring out the best way to get as much of it as I can back home. Luckily, I foresaw this, and only packed my gigantic suitcase about two thirds full when I came…
These past few weeks have been a lot like the first few that I had here – lots of hanging out with friends and social activities. Unfortunately, most of the others are still taking exams – I was extremely lucky to finish when I did. But many of my afternoons and evenings right now are dedicated to spending time with friends whether it be a picnic in a park, chillin’ at a bar after a movie, or carrying a dead lady’s bedframe up (and back down) six flights of stairs. True story. But no, we didn’t kill her…
And I’m still a bit of a tourist! The other day, I went with Bethany, my friend from Peoria (that trip seems like nothing now compared with all of the crazy things I’ve done) to the house where Victor Hugo was born. I’d passed by it numerous times, but had never gotten the chance to go in. As seems to be the case with a lot of famous birthplaces, he lived in Besançon for less than a year after his birth, and I don’t think he ever returned. But the house is still standing in the city center, and there is a museum inside dedicated to his social justice work. I hadn’t been aware before, but much of his work was inspired by his passion for human rights and political causes. And now I have a lot more books to add to my “to-read” list…
I think I can say now that I consider Besançon as a secondary hometown. Having never spend this much time uninterrupted in a city other than Omaha, I now have a real sense of familiarity and comfort here that I hadn’t anticipated. The atmosphere here is so nice, and it just feels very Omaha-y in many ways. Except for the fact that half of the buildings here were built before Omaha was even a city… So Besançon is like Omaha’s hip and worldly babysitter. Or something like that. And by now, so much of it is so familiar that I am really going to miss it.
Something cool that has started happening fairly regularly is that people will stop me while I’m running to ask for directions. About half of the time, I either have no idea what they are looking for or I give them instructions that were probably impossible to follow (good thing I could just run away in the other direction…). But I think it would be safe to say that half of the time, I do give them legitimate help. Nine months ago, I would probably have pretended to not see them waving me down, and just kept running…
A recent project has been to work on a Skype interview that Mom is going to do with her WWII/Holocaust class, featuring Théo. (It’s been a while since you’ve heard about him, hasn’t it? He’s still around, just way busier than me.) But Mom is going to interview him about the French Resistance in this region. His great-grandfather and grandfather were both involved to varying degrees, and there are some interesting stories that have been passed down in his family. I was doing some research for images to show, and came across a wealth of photos of Besançon during the war (the occupation, a British bombardment, liberation, etc.). It’s hard to look at any pictures of war (and none of these were even graphic) but the fact that all of this happened in a place that I know and not just some faraway city made them very real. The crazy part was that many of the photos were recognizable.
These photos of the liberation were taken on one of downtown’s main streets that I walk on almost every day:
September 8, 1944 and May 12, 2015
(See the Baud chocolatier on the left side of the 1944 picture? It's the same as the white awning in the 2015 one. They've been on the same corner for 92 years.)
September 8, 1944 and May 12, 2015
(I tried to frame the photo with the fountain in the background similarly to the original, but discovered that it wasn’t possible. The new tramway runs through where it should be. So they must have moved the fountain quite recently.)
And this bridge was rebuilt, and today, just to the left, sits the CLA, where I took classes last semester.