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2008-12-13 Home

Tonight I'm alone in the house, and until now I've forgotten how much of a luxury it is to have a house entirely to yourself. My host parents are in Paris, my sister is at a school dance, and my brother is out with friends. I went out for a little bit earlier in the evening but came home early because I felt tired. I caught the chicken pox this past week, oddly enough. Yes, yes, that's right - the chicken pox. My host dad said that it is the malady for babies, except for Ansley. I'm like a baby in France, I replied. Anyways, so chicken pox has been fun. After feeling rotten and itchy and freaking out about the funny red bumps all over my body, I went to the doctor last Wednesday morning, after looking up the word for chicken pox in the dictionary (la varicelle.) Going to a French doctor was really an interesting experience. He wore no gloves, there was no nurse, and basically I just perched myself on the table without any sort of hospital gown. He was very nice, though a bit too relaxed for my tastes. "Is chicken pox more dangerous because I'm older?" I asked. "Yeah," he replied slowly, looking thoughtfully out the window at a passing bird. "Yeah, probably...yeah." "Ok. Great. Merci." I was surprised that he didn't offer me a cigarette and a glass of wine with my prescription. Anyways, I do feel better today, though still easily fatigued. Though, I think a lot of this could do with the upcoming exams and the strange combination of emotions I've been feeling - anxious to get home and get settled there, nervous about reentry to the States, sad to leave France. Tonight, I was determined to go out and live up as much night life as I could in Aix, and I was frustrated with myself for going home early. But then I remembered to tell myself that, no - this semester has been a marvelous accomplishment, no matter how many nights you go out. It's similar to the panic I've felt lately about buying, buying, buying. I only have a week left! Everything is urgent now! I don't have enough time! I'm never going to see this again! I have to take a picture/buy it/eat it/obsessively write about it in my journal! Oh no! I've been learning, though - that no matter how hard I try - there will never be enough time. I can't capture the feeling of this place through stuff for other people. Just like I'll have to realize that I can't tell people back home about my experience, really. I can share a few stories, but apart from that - it has been unique to me, and therefore not as important or crucial or interesting to the people back home. I've also realized that coming home is the second part of studying abroad. It's not the ending. We were given this excerpt from a poem in class Friday, and when we read it aloud, I had a shivery feeling. There are three conditions which often look alike Yet differ completely, flourish in the same hedgerow: Attachment to self and to things and to persons, detachment From self and from things and from persons; and, growing between them, indifference Which resembles the others as death resembles life, Being between two lives"unflowering, between The live and the dead nettle. This is the use of memory: For liberation"not less of love but expanding Of love beyond desire, and so liberation From the future as well as the past. Thus, love of a country Begins as attachment to our own field of action And comes to find that action of little importance Though never indifferent. History may be servitude, History may be freedom. See, now they vanish, The faces and places, with the self which, as it could, loved them, To become renewed, transfigured, in another pattern... What we call the beginning is often the end And to make and end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from... We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. "Little Gidding," The Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot Ansley Clark

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