by REBEKAHSince getting to the home of Vicente’s Uncle Luis in Cavaillon, family and friends had not stopped to offer us things: first, the evening table was loaded with food; next they suggested we stay with them for a couple of nights instead of searching for a place on the road. Meanwhile, another uncle had lugged in an air mattress for Vicente to share with his younger cousin, while I was offered the bed; we all drank coffee, ate cookies and chatted into the night.
The next day, we came downstairs as they were beginning to plan the afternoon meal: more family from out of town filed in, catching up with Vicente and introducing themselves to me; meanwhile, Louis’ wife Ana and another uncle started to prepare what was soon to be the most delicious Paella I have ever tasted.
When the time for the big meal arrived, most of the men clustered around Vicente, the crazy cousin off on another insane adventure; I slipped automatically into the group of young girls my age, although I was shy to enter their closed conversation in my half-there Spanish. They were playing with Louis’ baby girl; one of the younger ones had made her up for fun, and the blue eye shadow made her look like the cutest possible cross between a doll and a clown.
“Que guapa, que guapa!” her mother smiled as she passed, busy playing the role of sous-chef.
“uapa, uapa” the one year old repeated, making us all smile.
Before the food was even on the table the conversation had mounted to a low roar, and the table was full of bodies. Eventually, one of the men began to play the guitar and a spontaneous Flamenco session broke out, the chef even breaking out into song in his borrowed polka-dot apron:
Though it made me nostalgic for my own family — at one point I even skyped my baby brother Ziga, so that he could meet baby Lidia on screen — it was wonderful to really be staying in a family space again. France might be a lonely place for Spanish Kalo, but this feeling of being able to come together; it makes survival on strange land far more conceivable, more possible.