Friday, August 24, 2007

Chez France

After leaving Ile d'Yeu, my French sister, France (sort of a French version of "Frances") met me at the Gare de Montparnasse. She is a true Parisian and does not own a car. We lugged my bags through the metro and arrived at her apartment.

France is at attorney. We talked a long time about our families, our children and our careers. It was wonderful. France is an intelligent woman with a big heart. She was warm and caring towards me.

In addition, France is an artist. She paints furniture - and also enjoys painting her apartment, which is beautiful and very comfortable. I slept in her eldest daughter, Lucie's room. I slept so well that I didn't hear that the neighbor below us had a little party until about 1:00 p.m., when France was finally fed up and sent him a text message that she had to work in the morning.

The next day, I got up early so that I could have breakfast with France before she left to work. Olivier was going to pick me up later that morning to spend the day and evening with him and his family before I went to the airport the next day to fly to Rome.

After France left to go to work, I got ready so that Olivier could come and get me. France had just painted her bathroom walls with this beautiful and fun striped pattern. She hadn't yet painted the final protective coating over the paint so she asked me to scrunch down in the shower and not get the walls wet.

Have you ever noticed that most disasters occur when one is specifically trying to avoid them? Maybe it is because one is at someone else's house and things are unfamiliar. Unfortunately, during my shower, I must have nudged open the shower partition a little bit. I ended up flooding the entire bathroom and also into the hallway onto France's freshly shampooed carpet.

I was completely panicked. When it happened, it really was a dramatic amount of water and I was so worried that I had ruined something. I mopped up quite a lot of the water and went to go call Olivier to come and help me. The battery on the house phone was dead. I opened up the back of the phone and saw that the batteries inside were not rechargable so leaving the phone on the jack wasn't going to get me anywhere.

I knew France had Skype on her home computer because her eldest son, Jean, is in Argentina for a journalism internship. I turned on her computer, which is powered by Windows XP. On the initial screen, there were four accounts listed: France, Lucie, Isabelle and Jean. I tried France's account first, which was password protected. I then tried Lucie's, which was also password protected. Next Isabelle's - also password protected. Cripes! I need in this computer to be able to call! Finally, I try the last account for Jean, which gloriously was not password protected. Amen for men sometimes!

I tried the only phone number I had for Olivier, which was his home phone. It went straight to voicemail. I then called Pascale (France and Olivier's oldest sister) to see if she had his cell phone number. I chatted with her for some time, while being completely distracted by the huge mess I had caused. However, I was afraid to say anything about what happened because I was certain that I'd burst into tears and my French doesn't improve at all under duress. I then tried to call Olivier's cell phone - it also went straight to voicemail. I left Olivier messages on both his phones.

Unfortunately, there was no way for him to call me back because the house phone was dead and Skype has limited capacity to receive incoming calls. I called France on her cell phone and asked if she had spare batteries in the house. She told me that the batteries recharged when the phone was left on the jack. I tried to explain that the batteries in her phone were not rechargable, but wasn't able to communicate well. I wanted to tell her what had happened, but knew I could not even start to talk about what I had done without bursting into tears. I hung up the phone continued mopping up the water. Laying down fresh towels on the carpeting and stomping on it to absorb as much water as it could.

Finally, Olivier arrived a little before 11:00 a.m. with his son, Alexandre. By that time, the bathroom was dry and the carpeting was only damp, not soaked. I am sure he thought I was crazy and over-reacting. I tried to convey how bad it had been before, but I don't think he believed me. I asked him to call France for me and explain what had happened.

I emailed her after I got to Rome to confirm that everything was OK and she told me that nothing was permanently damaged - only that she had to go to the laundrymat in order to dry the towels because the weather in Paris was so cold they were taking too long to air dry.

My heart still races just thinking about it.

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