Painful Lessons

It’s ever so elating to learn new skills and find out new tidbits of information…can I get an “Amen”? It seems like just yesterday I was learning to shave my legs; I was probably too young to be doing so at the age I began, but all of my friends were doing it, and it was probably just around the time when cutting yourself with a razor became socially acceptable and even fashionable. Since I didn’t want lines all over my arms, I decided having them on my legs was the perfect compromise of playing it safe and cool. Who doesn’t want to fit in right? So, despite the fact that you probably needed a high-powered microscope to see any semblance of anything shavea-ble on my 12-year old twig legs, I let my friend Beth sit me down and show me how it was done. Years later, I am still appreciating this valuable lesson she taught me.

One of my favorite rituals here in France is hiking to the city, over the mountains and through the woods, hoping to find a nice grandma’s house. This trek has taken me time and dedication to master. It has certainly not come without a few hangups such as: getting lost and losing all the energy needed to get myself home, opening the door to the wrong chalet, wearing inappropriate attire and finding myself frostbitten head to toe, having my snowshoes fly out behind me while in a gazelle-like run, and crashing into a few oncoming skiiers because my head was frozen and couldn’t turn to look both ways. After learning the ropes of the course, I won’t make the same mistake twice. I now wear 27 layers on my walks to town, pack a backpack full of whale blubber in case I get cold or hungry, and leave a trail of bread crumbs behind me so that I can always find my way back. Oh, and I always ring the doorbell of the chalet I am about to enter…just in case. Tom and Julie love the 2am wake ups when I come stumbling home from all these parties. Trust me.

Today I learned why French women (supposedly) don’t shave. I too have tried to shave my legs with a French razor and no matter how careful I am, how delicately I handle the fine piece of sharpened metal, I always end up flashing back to the blood and gore of being 12 and first mastering the art. I’m going to stop that story because I like to keep my blog G-rated.

Yesterday, I successfully navigated on planes, trains and automobiles to the weirdest massage of my life. I learned both where the place was in case I ever want another one, and learned I never want another one from this person, and I should NEVER get a massage from someone who is not my friend, SARAH ABORN! Simultaneously while learning how to get to Chamonix’s ghetto for my massage, I also found out where the train station was, so I feel more at ease about hopping on one. Hello, Monsieur, do these trains go to America?

Yesterday was also my first time on a real live, honest-to-goodness, put-this-lift-between-your-legs-and-away-you-go ski slope. I didn’t have a teacher, so I borrowed the wisdom of nature, and the other people crashing into trees ahead of me, as my teachers. I learned that you get a better workout if you fall down constantly, a real glute-burner all that sitting and standing. Actually, I am proud to say that I did not fall once and still managed to burn 752 calories. I also got a great lesson in how to tie a tourniquet, after knocking off the lift lady’s arm with my ski pole and feeling guilty enough to help her with the first aid situation. Don’t worry, karma taught my my lesson later on in the day while riding the bus when some guy’s ski pole met my back molars. I was grateful though because I think it’s been awhile since I’ve been to a dentist and he got that spinach out that I have just NOT been able to reach. Healthy gums, healthy heart!

Isn’t it terrific to be raising your hand asking questions in the “School of Life”. Not much different than the ski school that the parents here enroll their pipsqueaks in, every time lo, another child is born. Here I am, trying to remain my most alert and awake self, as I walk around taking notes on people, places, books, and sights in my spiral bound notebook.

With the world as my playground, at recess the other day, I found myself running through the woods with all the sheer joy and bliss of a child the other evening. As I stopped to catch my breath, and look up at the sky, a sole snowflake falling at that moment, fell right into my catcher’s mittens. Granted, I had to knock over a few snowshoer’s and joust with a couple cross country folks who are VERY good with those poles, but I GOT that snowflake. It was nature’s “star” on the top of my paper. A+

I had a huge smile on my face the rest of the walk and of course, got the usual, “Was that a human girl or a walking bimbo?” stares. I didn’t even care! I was reveling in the fact that I was in a new place, learning lots of new things, and challenging myself like never before. It felt like I was back at Keene State, lugging around my backpack, searching for hot beverages, hiding my face under a giant hood, but most of all…letting information and experience flow through the open gates of my mind like my cells brings in nourishment through active transport. Only Rachelle is not by my side to Trick or Treat door-to-door with before walking to our Sociology class in September….

From a distant land,

— Emily —


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