Friday, March 18, 2011
The birthday that never really got off the ground
It’s been exactly two years since we left America. Two years away from home. Two years in Europe.
Two years in France. And we're still not French. I'm okay with that.
Two years of rootlessness. Two years of no dishwasher or clothes dryer. This is possibly the most amazing thing: That I have survived two years of hanging clothes up to dry all over the house, and outside when the weather permitted, without losing my mind. How pathetic is that? How pathetic is our dependence on a clothes dryer. I have, however, avoided ironing, even still. Yea me.
I have probably broken fifty dishes that don't belong to me in the past two years, including glasses. We have a ceramic sink, things drop out of the overcrowded dish drainer, fall into the sink, and break what they land on, before breaking itself.
But we’re not broken, yet. No. We’re good.
It was Ian’s birthday last Friday.
We’re not broken, but we are a bit broke. I knew he would get angry if I spent money on him, so my present to him was a bag of Mars’ Bars. I did buy some champagne as well, but it's still in the fridge. Waiting for the right time. You don't open a bottle of champagne, straight from Champagne, France, unless you are committed to finishing the bottle.
Isla’s gift to Ian was sleeping all night. Miracle. She came out of her room at around 6, went to the toilet, then went back into her room and shut the door. Unheard of. And sort of creepy.
Ian called me at 11 a.m. on his birthday and asked me to meet him for lunch at a cafe in the next village. I was tempted to say "no" simply because I had work to do but quickly realized "no" was not an option.
We had a really delicious lunch. I had Oeufs Meurette for the first time since coming to Burgundy. If I could go back and do it again, I would have had Oeufs Meurette every day of the week. Holy crap it is delicious, even if it looks a bit scrotum like on the plate. It is eggs poached in red wine, with onions and mushrooms, all sitting on a perfect bread raft.
I missed dinner, after wasting my time at a school meeting, which I only attended out of guilt, and which I didn’t understand one word of.
Okay I understood some words-- Kermesse, Carnaval, Spectacle, Rosé pampelmouse-- but mostly I sat, just on the periphery of a tight circle of mothers all talking at once in what was to me a whole lot of mumbo jumbo. I can listen to the radio. I can have okay conversations with the doctor, or anyone, one on one. But groups... I just can't do it. It didn’t help that I am almost totally deaf in my left ear as a result of my ongoing sinus infection. I just listened, not catching much, and smiled and tried to laugh at the right time.
I did make Ian a cake after dinner, while the girls watched.
They sat at the dinner table making birthday cards and arguing and listened to me swearing, not so under my breath, at every little thing. I spilled flour, burned butter, dropped eggs, almost knocked another jar of Molasses on the floor, and kept turning on the wrong burner when trying to make the lemon curd.
I am the model of domestic dysfunction. I will surely give my daughters, by example, my aversion to the kitchen, not to mention a potty mouth. Note to self: Don’t bake in front of the children.
Isla is already fond of saying "Shit, shit, shit!" quite a lot lately. Her timing, tone and emphasis are perfect.
Ian poured himself a vodka orange juice, he never does that, and they all watched me as if I was some sort of spectacle. The potty-mouthed Mommy show.
I put the girls to bed. Ian had tried, earlier to get Isla to bed but she rejected him, as she does, and I found her crying, redfaced, sitting up in her bed. She is so impossible, then acts all innocent when shouted at, as if she has no clue why we are shouting.
Esther's card was sweet. She fashioned a book out of recycled cardboard and string, tying in several little love notes. She had me write one, she wrote one herself, and she wrote one for Esther.
Her note read:
"Of all daddys my daddy is the best. I love my daddy and no he loves me too. Happy birthday daddy, I hope you had a grat day."
On the outside envelope, she wrote, "For Ian, the best daddy and hasbind in the worlde."
Her heart is pure, but we do have work to do when it comes to English spelling.