The sun over my shoulder

12:36 AM

This morning I sit at a typical French cafe, at a very typical French cafe terrace table writing to you. I have my cafe double and a cold glass of water at my side. The sun is peaking through the trees, already warming my shoulders as the cool September breeze keeps my sweating at bay. FIrecracker is at "baby school" (or rather, the Halte-Guarderie, which is like a part time daycare) just a few yards away from where I sit. Yesterday didn't go so well, last night she threw up, this morning she woke up too early barely ate breakfast and was whiny. She marched right into the school but when she saw her teacher she clamped onto my legs. I squatted down, while explaining to Fatima that Firecracker had had a bad night and gave my baby hugs.
   Then she saw the train. She loosened her grip.
   Then she saw another little girl walk up to the train. Firecracker took her hand away from my leg and took a step away. I took the initiative to sit her down and place the train in it's starting spot. The train zig-zagged down the tracks. Then the next one. That was all she needed. She was hooked. I said good-bye and she didn't even turn her head. The choo-choo was about to zig-zag down, after all.
   Hopefully the entire hour will be good.
   As for Queenie, school is now a breeze. I don't know what happened between Monday and Wednesday, but when she came home for lunch on Wednesday (half days every week. Yep, this is France) she complained about not eating at school.
   "What!" I exclaimed. "You want to eat at school?"
   "Yee-ees!" she said.
   Yesterday she gave me a kiss and walked in by herself. Today also.
   I couldn't help peeking in on her through the glass windows. She walked across the room to the benches that her class sits on. She looked around, thinking about where she would sit. In the back of my mind I saw myself those oh so many times I had to choose a spot to sit at school. So many new schools..... She walked past the full benches, paused at one but the boys were being rambunctious so she turned around and finally sat on the edge of another. And she looked forward, waiting, clutching onto her bouquet of fake flowers (everyday she brings something to school. I really think it is to have something to hold in her hands. She has been like that since she was little, holding something in her hands makes her feel better.)
   It seems the shyness has dissipated. It is the same school as just a few months ago. There are many of the same kids. Her teacher is extremely nice.... and thank goodness for angels making us feel better. It only took seven days for her to feel comfortable.
   Shyness. Comfort. I always thought that my shyness, that my discomfort had much to do with the external things going on around me during my childhood. I am sure it had something to do with it, but probably not everything. My mother's side is shy. I am much like them. My father's side is also quiet, not the center of the party. I am like them, too. We like to stay in the background and watch. We don't like to go too far from our comfort zone. And yet....
   I have always felt a tug to go far, far away from my comfort zone; far from home. Home is safe now, but it wasn't way back when. Certainly my external circumstances had much to do with this yearning, but it is also something that was in me from the beginning, I believe. A part of me. A part of the PLAN for my life. My shyness stuck with me throughout my twenties. There were times I went hungry because I was just too shy, just too self conscience to go into a restaurant in Ireland or Spain, the unfamiliar scared me, so I went hungry. I waited until I got home.
   But here I sit, in a country where I speak the language so-so, just 6 weeks away from turning thirty and I walked into a cafe I surely wouldn't have just a few years ago, without thinking twice. I asked for a double coffee, he nicely asked me to repeat and I wasn't embarrassed. C'est la vie. Who cares, right? I have been saying that to my self for the last 15 years, but now I am finally living it. Almost 30 years old and finally losing my shell.
   With the sun rising over my shoulders I look happily and contently into the coming decade.

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