Last year, end of September 2019, I cycled around my home region of Alsace (France) for a week. I started in Wissembourg, at the extreme north of the region, and cycled down to Basel in Switzerland. I cycled about 400km in total, on three different Eurovelo routes, I crossed two borders (Germany and Switzerland) and relaxed in three different spas along the way (because why not?) and, obviously, I experienced different weather conditions.
Like a family, we took care of each other. We cooked together after our shift. Emma used to help me to separate the white and the yolk to bake chocolate mousses. Vincent helped me getting train tickets out of the Family Mart’s vending machine where everything was written in Chinese. I used to go swimming with Emma at Our Beach. I used to sleep with Vincent at the 7/11 convenient store before watching some hot air balloons in Luye.
I still remember the first day we went to our beach. It used to be her beach, the spot Emma chose to go swimming almost every day, meeting fishermen sometimes. I was following her racing her bike, trying to memorize every turn and streets, and was a bit confusing when I first arrived. It’s not a sandy beach. It’s a rocky beach, not really a beach, with a lot of garbage from the Night Market. But there was something extremely extraordinary about having the chance to go swimming every day. Because that’s exactly how it felt: a chance.
I still remember how I felt like a teenager, holding this giant stuffed shark in Vita’s bed, talking about love and French boys before falling sound asleep. It seems that getting older doesn’t make us stop being confused about love issues. She taught me Chinese chess, I taught her French. Her mother kept saying ‘Je suis contente!’ ‘- I’m happy- while I was trying to improve saying the four Chinese tones. I felt part of the Lung family, and it was heartwarming.
One day, though, I got this postcard from Japan. My very first postcard from Japan. From Noriko, a Japanese mum. It was a Nausicaa postcard (if you never watched this Studio Ghibli anime, now you know what to do tonight). It was everything we needed to start an epistolary friendship between the poor 27 years old unemployed French girl that I was and this Japanese ukulele player housewife.
I burst into laughter, and talk and talk about the New Zealand’s landscapes, about how easy it can be to travel once you make your mind about it. He tells me about London, Egypt, and those little dreams he has secretly stored in his heart. I can tell that he’s drunk too, Jason, for he’s sharing his secrets with any random woman that comes along in the streets.