Thursday, October 9, 2014

My Other Family

Thirteen years ago, I got extremely lucky.  As I was packing to spend a semester abroad in France, the study-abroad program was assigning host families and I had the great fortune to be placed with the Cauet Family.  They’ve become a second family to me, and we’ve all criss-crossed the ocean a few times to see each other over the intervening years (the ten months I spent teaching English in France were at a lycee nearly next-door to their home… though I lived at the lycee, their house was still my home).


France pig

I had a thing for posing with statues in college.  Also, I still have that jacket.


Cauet Train  Catching the train the day I left for the States in January of 2002, tears in my eyes (and the terrible fashion of the early 2000s and at least 15 lbs of French pastry weight gain)


As a student, the Cauets were not only welcoming, but genuinely open and willing to share their lives – such was not the case for other students.  Within two weeks of my arrival, I attended an all-day (literally: from 10 am to 4 am) wedding of a family friend.  I barely spoke French, was still a bit caught up with the jet-lag, and the whole of French society wanted my opinion or to apologize for the recent 9/11 attacks.  Overwhelmed much?  A friend of my host parent’s daughter began, in October, to take me out dancing every Friday and Saturday night.  She’d arrive at the house, have a drink with the family, and we’d drive to a club on the far side of the river and dance all night (literally: we’d leave around 4 am).  She didn’t speak much English and she crazily put up with my stumbling French for two solid months of dancing at the clubs.  I went on family outings, vacations, trips, and to more weekend soccer games than I can count.  I became, truly, a part of the Cauet family.

 diner en famille

May 2004, after teaching for ten months, when my family came to visit


With Solene, in 2003 (we went to France for her wedding in 2012)


I’m certain that my experience is not the same as most others’.  In fact, I would venture to guess that the Cauets had many other students who didn’t insinuate themselves or allow themselves to be insinuated into the family in the manner I did.  I was lucky.  I was blessed.  I learned French.  I gained a family.


photo 1 (62) Grandmas always have the magic touch!


Even luckier for me, Maman and Papa Cauet were recently in the States for a wedding and decided to hop an extra plane and spend some time on the West Coast.  Having a family so far away is a bit like having a piece of your heart on the other side of the world.  I miss them dearly, but I’m so, so glad for the small bits of time we get to spend together every few years.


photo 2 (63)  Charles and Jamie recognize the Cauets as “ours”


I guess it’s our turn next time.  Honey, when shall we plan our next trip to France?

1 comment:

Julia said...

Love this! We have a "sister" in Germany. It was actually my younger sister who did the exchange program with her, but she's become part of our family, and lucky us - she's doing a post-high school 7 month intensive study in Seattle right now. She comes "home" to my parents on the weekend, and even to my house for home-cooked Friday night dinners and time with the kids. I love how family builds with those we pick. ;)