I met Lucy on the train from Grenoble to Annecy in September 2006. Grenoble’s Assistant Orientation was finally over and we were all heading to our respective towns to get settled and start work. I had arrived in France only one day prior to the orientation with no place to live, very little contact with my school, and a horrible throat infection. After three days of no showers in a run-down hostel with freezing cold classrooms, I was severely unhappy and stressed.
I had all of my ridiculously heavy luggage to drag around, which made the attempt to change trains in Aix-les-Bains at the last minute (because none of us assistants initially realized we had to be sitting at the front of the train in order to go to Annecy) very, very difficult. We managed to hop on another train, and we just plopped down in the entryway instead of storing our luggage and finding seats. At this point, I was ready to throw up because of motion sickness and I wasn’t even sure if the place I had planned to stay that night in Annecy was going to work out. And then a gentle voice with an adorable British accent asked, “Are you alright?”
After two years, Lucy and I have traveled to Barcelona, attended a French medieval festival, got overly excited about the release of Hairspray when no one else in France seemed to, went bowling at Le Bowling until nearly 3 am, enjoyed Thanksgiving and Christmas meals together, complained about our chiant students and remained stupefied at the inefficiency of French bureaucracy even after all this time. And that was only the beginning.
Today I took Lucy to the station one last time. She’s returning to England to hopefully find a job. Teaching English was never in her original plans, so it’s time to move on. My apartment is now filled with bags of food and teaching supplies that she couldn’t have possibly carried back home. I’ll have constant reminders of my first friend in France, and I’ll always have the memories of our adventures together. But what I would give to have her back in France…
New assistants this fall means new friends, I hope. But it just won’t be the same. It won’t be Lucy.