In the end, my night was very relaxing. The hotel’s bed was as comfy as a fluffy cloud and the ladies at the reception desk made me smile this morning with their cheering. They seemed genuinely admirative of my journey and it feels good sometimes to remember why I got on my bike to travel Alsace (because 1. Why not? And because 2. I feel like doing quite a few little crazy things in my life before I die). I ate as much as I could at the hotel’s breakfast buffet and even put a few snacks in my pockets for lunch. I feel definitely more serene and energetic this morning to go back on the road.
After a yummy breakfast shared with my friend Christel with some chocolate cake left by Valentin the previous night, I’m back on the road! I cycle in Neudorf, my former neighbourhood, quite nostalgic, but with a strange feeling of not completely belonging there anymore. After all, that neighbourhood has changed a lot, it got a bit gentrified, and what once felt familiar is now mixed up with the foreign. Is it how it always goes with the places we used to cherish? The filters of the past can’t quite overlap the actual sceneries. We play the game of the 7 differences, with some eagerness, but also a bit of nostalgia, isn’t it? What’s left of our memories when the architecture is changing? Is there any memory set in stone?
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.