The Autumnal forest has been one of the most beautiful experiences in Bourron Marlotte. Driving past trees I thought I recognised, day in and out on my drive to and from school. These days, the same trees wearing their fall collection – stunning shades of yellow, orange, red, brown, rust and tiny bits of green for the ones that don’t want to give up the summer.
Yesterday was a moment. One that I featured in my imaginations exactly a year ago. Life in France. Lunch by the river. A walk in the woods. I finally made it to Dan and Sophie’s gorgeous new place overlooking the Seine. Quaint wooden floors and beams, warm couches, beautiful wine, roast chicken and sweet potato with a bunch of writers and friends from INSEAD with whom I don’t need to pretend. Sparkling conversation. Moist, rich chocolate cake. Warm apple crumble. Deep cups of coffee. A pair of wellies, layers of wrapping and a stroll by the river and almost accidentally into the forest. We passed a bunch of letter boxes on the way. Cluttered and clustered around each other. A broken bridge romantically detached from the shore. Leaves on the ground turning from yellow, then orange and red to black in the last days of autumn. Dusk descending on the village. Speeding trains on tracks that follow the river, noticeable only because of a million miniature lit windows rushing past. Birds circling the skies signalling the end.
They say it is harder to write when you don’t want to face the truth. Letters and words stare back at you forcing you to confront exactly what you don’t want to. Its been a tumultuous few weeks, months even. Since my last post in July, I have spent days and nights in flights and hotels travelling around India for Amphenol, meeting some fascinating manufacturing businesses, walking through fields and factories in the middle of no where and completing my internship. I watched Rekha get married in Lyon – a moving and reassuring experience. I sailed on the English seas in stormy weather with the dream team. Returned to INSEAD with new luggage. Spent September and October falling in and out of love with people and things around me, said some teary goodbyes to old friends leaving for Singapore and settled into my final two months.
The last few weeks at INSEAD are proving to be an incredibly strange experience. Some of us have mentally checked out, others are hanging on – hoping the next party, the next dinner, the next evening out will bring life and love to their doorstep. The campus feels bare and empty. I am thankful for the five friends who keep me going, a reminder that true, strong bonds have been forged. There seems to be a certain satisfaction in throwing myself into work and real life to come. Transitions are never easy but this seems to be the best way to do it. I am faced with the paradox of choice, the luxury of having to pick and choose my next steps forward mixed with the heady confidence of knowing what I want and the courage that I will get there. And while it is unnerving, it is a phase in my life I will remember.
My true love this period has been my new house in Bourron Marlotte. An old, 18th century stone house with well laid out interiors, a dining table that accommodates 12 people but brings together 20 on a busy evening. A kitchen with a flaming gas stove on which we have steamed, roasted, pan fried, basted, burnt our lives away. Incredibly interesting housemates – warm, open hearted people who make a very good substitute family – bringing in a warm baguette on a Sunday morning or folding away tea towels after a long night out. 72 Rue Murger houses some well preserved memories of a 30th birthday party in the summer with jugs of Pimms and a Jazz band, saturday afternoons on the couch on the porch, waiting for hangovers to slide away as the last rays of the summer sun warm our toes. Conversations with various people that I will remember for a long time to come. The comfort of company and everything else that I missed in Montigny.
As I fix my stares on an old crumbling grey stone wall with flaming red and burnt orange leaves clinging on to the withered branches, fearful that the last gusts of the November wind will inevitably sweep it away and onto a bonfire pile – I am conscious that I have a printing business to run and a financial forecast that calls.