I've spent the past week visiting my dad and stepmom, and I've had a great time getting introduced to the South. I indulged in authentic fried chicken at Price's (an only-take-out joint in the heart of Charlotte that's been around since 1962–needless to say it was delicious) and some good ol' sweet tea (which was about 50% ice, 25% tea, and 25% sugar). I toured the Biltmore estate, which was designed and funded by George Washington Vanderbilt II and modeled after a 16th-century French château in the Louis XV style. I'm extremely jealous of George, because he has the most beautiful library I've ever seen–it was featured in Richie Rich–complete with over 10,000 books and a chess set that Napolean Bonaparte owned––drool. He also inherited a cool $10 million from his father, who made all his money in the shipping industry. Even though he blew it all building the estate, it remains the largest private home ever constructed in the United States, and stands out as a tourist attraction even to this day. The old stables have now been converted into a restaurant, and my father and I shared a barbeque plate for two with ribs, pulled pork, fried chicken, cole slaw, and collared greens. My dad explained to me that over here, barbeque is not a verb (as us Californians use it to denote grilling outside and smothering your meat in sugary red sauce), but rather a noun (meaning a specific cooking style, and North Carolina barbeque is famous for its vinegar-flavored sauce). Even though I'm excited for the new adventures that await me overseas, it's been fun experiencing southern comfort–that drawl is growing on me too.
I'm still sitting in terminal D3, and I hear people speaking in German, as well as the older couple sitting across from me communicating in rapid French. I can't understand everything they're saying yet, but hopefully by the time I'm back in this airport, I'll be able to speak that quickly too. The duty-free shop across the terminal and the Euros burning a hole in my pocket remind me that I am, in fact, going to be in a different country in a matter of hours.
Ever since suffering through a good 36 hours of delays the last time I came back from Europe, I've hated the idea of waiting around for airplanes to take off. I'm anxious about this one as well, I want to get off the ground already. Something about sitting in terminals makes me feel uncomfortable. I feel like everyone around is watching me. Maybe that's just my narcissism, but I can't get over the fact that there are cameras keeping watch over every square inch of this place. If only I could waltz over to the Bacardi rum bar next to the duty-free shop and get a drink to make this flight a little more interesting. Soon enough, I'll be over international waters and can legally drink. It's pretty hilarious that I'm about to spend two months interning at a distillery when I'm not allowed to drink in my home country. I won't go on a tirade about how ridiculous that law is right now, but whatever, I'll be 21 soon enough I suppose.
I'm excited to be in Europe again in ten hours or so. I've got quite a task ahead of me getting from the Nice airport to Aix, but I think as long as I can work up the courage to borrow someone's cell phone in order to call Jill, I'll be alright. I'm supposed to take a bus from the airport to the train station, and get a train ticket to either Aix or Marseille, where Jill is going to pick me up. It's been a little over five months since I've seen her, but we've been communicating over Facebook, and she's helped me immensely with planning the journey from Nice to Aix. I'm looking forward to seeing her again, as well as Pascal. I hope it won't be too difficult for me to relax and enjoy myself; I tend to get a little nervous in new situations. I know my French isn't perfect, but I hope it will be at least up to par enough that I won't completely embarrass myself.
Maybe I shouldn't worry about that so much though, considering the fact that I will inevitably stumble over the language barrier for at least a few weeks before getting enough confidence in myself to speak without stammering. Actually, I'll probably stammer anyways, I tend to do that in English. That's one of the reasons I've always found so much comfort in writing. It gives me more time to think about what I want to say. I get a little performance anxiety when I have to sound coherent and intelligent on the spot, and end up thinking faster than I can make my mouth move, mumbling and tripping over my own tongue.
It looks like people are getting up to start boarding the flight, so I'm going to have to quickly publish this. Forgive me if there are any typos, I haven't had enough time to thoroughly read over it. And sorry for not having any pictures yet, I recently got a camera, but I haven't been able to upload anything to my computer yet. I'll get some pictures up with my next post though, I promise.
Anyways, I'll post again soon. À bientôt.