(This is the typed-up version of what I hand-wrote in the little journal that’s the perfect size for my handbag and therefore always with me)
So right now I’m sitting at a café. Because France and duh.
I decided I was a big girl and able to get a french sim card in Bordeaux all by my little self…and needless to say I grew pretty fatigued from all the energy it required to look like I knew what I was doing the whole time. I really wanted to sit but to my horror I couldn’t find any benches, only cafés! I think the french don’t have benches. I’m almost sure of it.
And these cafés! They were all so intimidating, these hoardes of sitting French –excuse me, BEAUTIFUL French—people watching me walk by. Suddenly I forgot all my culture lessons: Did I just sit down? Will they see me? Will I look dumb just sitting there? Why hadn’t I thought about this?! And to top it off, I couldn’t sit and think; I had to walk and panic. After an especially attractive French party and waiter gave me the Spanish Inquisition with their eyes, I think I had the most invisible dramatic death known to the streets of Bordeaux, maybe all of France
To top it off– it’s key to keep in mind that my luggage has been lost in airport hell, so I’m wearing some tiny circle skirt left behind from some previous Chinese exchange student (I’d been trying to rearrange my only set of clothes into different outfits for too many days, people were starting to smell the new American girl without seeing her).
This skirt is significant to my suffering. Here’s how:
It’s gorgeous weather. I mean, dream up the perfect weather—like Baby Bear-to-Goldilocks temperature ratio —and then add sneaky bursts of poltergeist breezes that spring out of nowhere up my skirt. Yes, now recall that I feel like I’m on a fucking cat walk in Paris during fashion week….in a pair of granny panties that my host mom had bought for her girls when they were children but they never ended up using. So yeah.
Anyway, this is the perfect time to bring this story back to the café because some old man and his young, hungover male companion sat next me while I was in the middle of The Great Skirt Explanation that I just wrote, and literally just said to me “Tu ecris bien?”
I think he asked me if my writing was going okay, but I got flustered, said “Oui,” felt my blush deepen and blurted “Je suis americainne!”
I hate myself. I know I looked cool up until that moment, like I was channeling some Hemingway spirit writing a novel in a cute scarf and gold hoop earrings. My glasses, perfectly tossed upon this little circle table, look effortlessly casual and chic next to my half-empty (pardon-moi, half-FULL) espresso, which has the perfect amount of coffee stain on the rim and one genius. transparent dribble down the side.
“Je suis americainne!” Goddammit, Katrina.
ANYWAY—I started writing this so that I never forget this café. It wasn’t on that main road with all the other ones (I panicked, remember? And immediately veered right down the first street possible after the French Waiter Stare Fiasco) and after the turn, I almost literally fell into this place—
Oh my god. Oh my god. This whole time I thought it was CAFÉ MONTAIGNE. I was too scared to check and look up at the awning where it was written for fear I’d look like a newb, but alas; I’ve just created a memory all wrong! Dammit Katrina. BAR.
Anyway (I think that’s my favorite word, I start many thoughts that way) I’m starving as fuck but I don’t know how to ask for food here. No waiter has come to ask “anything else besides the coffee?” unless you count the time when, around slowly writing “BAR MONTAIGNE” in the same exact font as the one on the awning, I saw the owner out of the corner of my eye peek out of her window behind me and laugh. She fucking laughed loud, too. There was zero attempt at subtlety.
So yeah, I’m hungry and too nervous to ask for sustenance. Also, I’m jacked on caffeine and sugar because (yet again) I panicked when I saw the two large sugar cubes on the coffee platter and thought it was a test from the snarky owner lady…so I tossed those suckers into my tiny-ass porcelain cup like I do it everyday. TAKE THAT.
And I think you can see the energy overload in my handwriting. I’m about to explode, I think.
That’s it—I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna ask for a salad.
I can’t do this French thing, I’m panicking again. “Can I have a salad?” “Do you sell salads here?” “I would like a salad, you have one?”
MAY I HAVE A SALAD. LET’S GO.
Okay, so I just bolted inside and she refused. Apparently, this place is only for drinks.IT SAYS IT IN THE NAME. IT’S A FUCKING BAR KATRINA, GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. How did you miss that. You even wrote about it. YOU EVEN WROTE ABOUT IT.
But enough of this freaking-out business. I should probably call my host mom. Erika worries like that, she went over the tram directions to the cellphone place a millions times. I got so damn lucky with the host family lottery of study abroad.
Okay, to review, I need:
-to call and give Erika my new number
-to eat… badly
-to move only when the wind is right (I can only walk when the air is still. I’m trapped in this Chinese girl’s skirt and I’ll forever hold it against her).
-to face the horror of paying Snarky Lady who will undoubtedly charge me 30 euros for this damn caffeine bomb.
Wish me luck as its beyond necessary,