(Last installment of this section of my book, “The Girl who Changed my World.”)
The next morning I awakened with a headache after the previous day’s emotions! I rang up Christine, a friend from college who lived in France and had invited me to come stay with them for a week. I told her I would be arriving that day.
As I opened my Bible to Romans 15:1-13 and read God’s invitation to deny ourselves for the benefit of others. What really spoke was the last verse:
Now may the God of all Hope fill you (me) with all joy and peace in believing, that you (I) may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.Romans 15:13, with the personal application added in my journal entry. AMEN!
Here’s my description of this day, from my journal:
It rained and rained and rained on the way to the Hoverport. I couldn’t sleep for all the sites reminded me of the previous day’s trip with Karen and our conversations. Finally, I got to the place of laughing, knowing that Karen was fine. I began to read and relax. We arrived to the announcement that they might need to bus us to the boat at Dover because of the rough weather.
Due to the delay, we each were given one pound to buy food. The food felt so good.
Oh, but I want to be on a ship to France. I hate being so inconvenienced. I want to meet with Karen in Paris. There is no way now that we are delayed. I miss her a great deal. She has become so much a part of my life, already. How can I live without her with me? I feel incomplete without her! It is an odd feeling to have this sense of dependency upon another, and feels dangerous!
How come people say it is so easy to get to the continent?
They bussed us to Dover, we went through customs, ready to board and were told they seem to have lost the ferry somewhere in between Dover and Calais. At this point I can do nothing but laugh. Here I am still in England! It is too ridiculous to get upset about. We finally boarded at 3:30 pm after waiting hours.
On the observation deck it was dark already so not much to observe. Outside a real gale blew. There were huge waves with the ship rocking this way and that. I only wish Karen were here! Darn! It’s also beautiful out, full moon with dark clouds floating by.
I think that what I feel for Karen is a kinship — no, not quite that — but it is like we are meant for one another. I miss having her around with her laugh and cheery comments. I miss our conversations. I miss her eyes, face, mouth, everything, but mostly that huge, loving heart which has reached out and touched me so deeply.
We finally arrived in Calais, boarded the bus for Paris arriving after a four-hour trip at 11:45 pm. Two friends from the crossing, Suzie from England and Greg from Bermuda and I then went to find a phone. They called a friend of theirs who was supposed to receive us but was too sick to do so.
After we ate something we decided not to spend money on a hotel room. It was so late and almost warm out, with cloudless skies and a full moon.
We walked through the dark cobblestone Parisian streets to a park where we stayed the night. It did get cold. We huddled together for warmth. We had to move to another place in the park at 3 a.m. for it got too chilly where we were.
At 5:30 a.m., it began to rain and we found a corner cafe, drank a dark mud-colored liquid, which pretended to be coffee, and split up at the Metro. I arrived in Christine’s town of Caen at 9 am. I called Christine’s house and her mom answered the phone.
“IS … THIS … BRIAN?” Mrs. Moudry nearly shouted into the receiver in very slow English.
“Oui,” I responded, with nearly my only French word.
“Un moment,” she said. I thought perhaps she went to get Christine, but instead, she returned to the phone with what I later learned was the English message Christine had written.
“Whare aaare yyyou?… Caen?”
“I … will…get… yyyou.” She said.
“Oh, oui! Merci!”
“Dix Minutes,” she said.
I got that! She came. The afternoon was my most unique ever. She spoke to me in French with sign language, and I responded with English and more sign language. We laughed and laughed together. She fixed me lunch, then I went to bed after showering. Christine awoke me at 3 pm. Christine and her sister, Katrine, and I went out for pizza and to see “Les Dents de la Mer 2e Partie” (Jaws Two). We laughed and laughed throughout.
During this several day stay, I was treated as part of their family. We enjoyed amazing five course lunches and dinners of all rich variety, red wine, champagne, and they took me on guided tours up and down the coast, visiting famous beaches and the incomparable Le Mont-Saint-Michel.
I went ice skating with Katrine’s school and shopping with Mr and Mrs Moudry. Mrs Moudry said, had she had a son, she would have wanted on just like me. “Un compliment, oui?” she asked. “Oui!” Once when I gave Mrs. Moudry a thank you hug, she danced around the kitchen with me saying, “Ooo la la!”
Days later, Christine dropped me at the ship. The seven hour voyage from France back to South Hampton, England was across calm seas. The sunset was the most beautiful I had ever seen. I wrote, “The sun is suspended behind dark clouds giving them a golden/silver lining. The lower clouds are deep rich pinks, and the sun is making glorious streaks down across the sky meeting the sea.” Back in London late that evening at my homestay a letter awaited me from Karen detailing her own time in Paris and departure for her European tour with friends and then alone. I wrote, “We are in love with one another at an even deeper level than before.”
I arrived home and asked my parents on the first night, “Is it even possible to meet the person you are to marry at 19?” My dad laughed and said, “Well, there is a lot of water to go under the bridge still.” But, now, I guess it is possible. We married three years later and next month will celebrate our 40th anniversary. It seems like an impossibly big number.
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Dear Brother Brian, So good to read “Reaching France”. I love happy endings and your writings are like “seeing” a picture. Thank you for sharing it. Love to you, Jan Harlan
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Thank you dear friend!!!