Thursday, October 6, 2011

Incident on a French Beach

I love epiphanies, don’t you?

Writing about this epiphany at the post office quickly segued into the memory of another epiphany I had had, years prior, during my first summer in France.

I had traveled to another region this particular summer, from my language school in a southern suburb of Paris to the beautiful region of Brittany. As I arrived at the beach with some others, the earth shifted slightly under my feet. I was ‘home.’

Impossible, I thought, shaking my head. Must be some sort of culture shock experience, I decided (now in my 6th month of living in France). But I couldn’t shake the feeling.

I looked around. The beach, the gulls, the boats…

The music drifting out of a shop on the French version of a boardwalk was decidedly Celtic. That must be it, I reasoned, the combination of music, salt air and squawky gulls. I was just experiencing a bit of nostalgia.

But the whole time I was there—two weeks—I lived with that eerie feeling of being home. With or without the Celtic music, with or without the gulls. I couldn’t explain it. My roots were Irish, not French.

Imagine my awe, then, when I returned to my Paris school, and discovered a package from my father, who had been researching our roots in his retirement. The trail led him to France, and…yep, that exact region I had just been in.

He sent me all the info, with maps, family crest, and a wine label with our name on it—Bouteiller—which was translated “Butler” when the family arrived in Ireland, during the days of William the Conqueror, in 1066.

Like, wow.

How does one explain such things?!?