dimanche 11 mai 2008

back from Wonderland

I have fallen through the looking-glass. Barbara B. invited me to go to Chantilly and Senlis for the day with her and Theresa. It's so nice when people invite me to things. It's really thoughtful. I don't plan a lot, so I usually have nothing to invite people to other than a spontaneous roast chicken dinner party that I sometimes have. But I'm always so astounded when people invite me to something or call me up to hang out. It means they want me around, that they like me or at least they can tolerate my presence.

Met up with them early in the morning. I'd love to post pics, but maybe later since the whole photo problem thingy. Took a train to Chantilly and it was such a lovely ride, all green pastures. And this group of bikers came on with their tight shorts, and they were so cute discussing their biking plans at the forest Coye.

We arrived in Chantilly and got tickets for the bus to Senlis. The original plan was just to hang out in Senlis, a well-preserved medieval city. But our bus wouldn't be here for an hour so we got time to kill in Chantilly. Chantilly is the horse capital of France. I like horses. Maybe because I think of knights in shining armor and girls in period dresses riding them.

We walked around the forest, and I suddenly remembered why I love the color green so much. It just reminds me of spring and nature and growth, and there were so many shades of it as we walked under all these tree-lines paths and reached the horse racing track. I saw a chateau in the distance and I asked Barbara, who's been here many times before, if that was the chateau of Chantilly. She said, "Yes. That's the one for the horses. The one next to it is for humans." I replied, "It's much smaller!" The Duke Orlean really liked horses.

Went to the tourism office and got some info. I found that you can rent bikes there! I might come back to rent a bike for a day. Then we took the bus to Senlis. We ate lunch at the park (tuna baguette--yum!). There was a family in the park (2 boys and 1 girl) and the dad was playing ball with them while the mom was sunning. The little girl fell and started to cry, running towards mom. When mom kissed her boo-boo, she returned to the ball game. The dad started cheering for her that she was coming back to play, and then her older brothers clapped their hands too. It was lovely. We then wandered the small city. Today there was a small "convention" for postcards at a church, so we went to that for 1 euro.

Oh. My. Gosh. Amazing. I'm a sucker for flea markets and yard sales, so this was right up my alley. Tables of vintage postcards, old letters, stamps, and trinkets. At one corner of the room was a long table where people where eating and drinking wine. We went from table to table. Mostly old guys were collectors, but they were really nice, asking if I was looking for a theme or a certain country or part of France for a postcard. I looked for cinema themes (not that great) and postcards about places I've visited. I also got a bunch of postcards for Cannes because the Cannes film festival is coming up. I've never been there but hope to someday, and not as a tourist. I can wait until then. I also chose some for their photo and the letter written on the back. Most of them had letters written on the back. My oldest one is from 1938.

I was reading some postcards, and it's funny that some of them have just one line on them or nothing at all. The one liners say "un bon souvenir" and who it's from. Sometimes, and here's what fascinated me, it said something totally weird. One of them said, "It's John Toole" or something like that, just an answer to a question. Today's equivalent would be a MySpace or Facebook wall post. Back then we had postcards. Life was simpler and slower.

So I got a bunch of old postcards with their stamps on the back, and also some really cool pins for 10 centimes each! That's like 25 cents each! They were really, really cool too. Can't wait to show you photos.

Walked around the city and some parks and just took in the sun and amazing weather. I really felt like I was in another world. Sometimes, we'd walk down these cobblestone streets, and there would be no sign of cars, nothing that could relate to this time and era, and it's like you're back in the 13th century. We walked along a path and found a creek, and it was so picturesque, it was just so hard to believe that this was really real. It was like something out of my imagination. And I felt that, if this was real, what else can be real for me? What else can be possible? And I thought about all my dreams, all that I ever wanted, and it all felt attainable. It was wonderful.

We went back to Chantilly and got off in the middle of the city instead of at the train station. Went to Barbara's fave boulangerie and got something to munch on for dinner. I got a quiche. We ate it in front of the chateau for horses. Then, because the horse racing fields were open, we walked through them barefoot since the grass was nice and cool and the sun still shining. We played with this really energetic dog while its owners were picnicking. It was hilarious, this dog picked up the biggest stick ever, it was practically a branch the length of my arm span, and he wanted to play fetch with it. So funny.

Arrived at the station, and went home. A lovely day in the countryside.