Since Sunday night, I have provided half of the bread in an Ashley-Kili-Ashley sandwich, served with a side of Greg. Delicious. Best. Sandwich. Ever.
It’s been lovely spending time with people that I haven’t seen in so long, but several facts have become immediately clear since spending time with my former classmates and fellow Americans. 1. My studio is actually a studio, and not a grande maison. This place is ca-rowded! 2. I talk funny. Incredibly funny. Sometimes the Yanks don’t understand what I am saying when I am speaking with my English friends. And finally, 3. To my utter embarrassment and surprise, I have become, unquestionably, inevitably, and flagrantly, a Lady who Lunches.
First of all, I must say that there is very little to visit in the city of Perpignan. We have an old palace that once housed the Kings and Queens of the kingdom of Mallorca. We have a “castillet” which is one of the few remaining portions of the city’s old ramparts. We have a tiny little town centre that a lovely canal winds through, bordered by green grass and beautiful flowers. And we have cafes. Loads and loads of cafes. And a few shops. But, what is unique about Perpignan is that in addition to not being a city with many tourist attractions, it also provides nothing for actual inhabitants to do, either. We’ve been to the castillet. We’ve visited the palace. We’ve taken the requisite photos of the canal with the mountains in the background. And what does that leave us? The cafes. And the shops.
Nearly every single day, a group of the assistants meet for lunch or a coffee and some sort of French pastry, and sit at the café chatting for hours. When we finally do decide to move from our thrones in the sunshine, it is just to have a wander around the shops, coveting shoes and dresses in window displays and occasionally braving the dressing rooms to try on a particularly fetching outfit. We are the ladies who lunch.
The absurdity of how we spend our days really didn’t hit me until the time came for me to take Kili, Greg, and Ashley into town to meet with the other assistants. I realized, as I awkwardly tried to explain our plans for the day, how ridiculous our schedules are. Granted, we are able to indulge in this schedule because of how incredibly rarely we are required to work (those twelve hours that I was told about? I think I average about five…). And the sit-at-a-café-and-chat lifestyle is so very French—this is what the French people do when they have free time. In a way, I suppose, we are immersing ourselves. But being the studious bunch that we are, it feels odd and unseemly to pass our days in such a brainless fashion.
When trying to explain to Kili my discomfort over my current lifestyle in France, she insisted that we deserve a break. After four strenuous years of university, and many many more years of school before that, I suppose I really haven’t ever had the chance to just sit in the sun and relax for hours on end, day in day out. And while I do not see myself spending the rest of my life as a lady who lunches, I plan on making the most of it while I am here in France and still can. Which also means imposing my laidback lifestyle on the Bellinghamsters that are here paying me a visit at the moment.