Seeing Lauren in Montpellier

Boy was it a blast to see Lauren. This post is a dedication to my sister and how much she means to me, because I simply don't say it often enough:

 

Lauren, I so incredibly proud of you as my sister and of the individual that you've become.

 

What I love best is how you've come out on top with everything you've set out to do. Each time we regroup in Dad's sun-soaked backyard under the palm trees and have a beer and talk about what we're up to, it's like one continuous conversation with year long intermissions. Each time we both share what we're working on, what were doubtful about, and what stands out most from our childhood. There’s always been a deep thread of camaraderie and guarded optimism about these conversations, as every year continues to be better and better.

 

This meeting was different. Eve and I got to see you in your space in Montpellier and I know I should have expected it, but I was blown away by the ease of your hospitality and social grace. For so many years we've only met back up in the context of our parents and family gatherings and it was incredible to see that you've carved out your own world for yourself in France with Robin. You’re graduating with your Masters, you’re forging your career, and you’re not settling for anything that doesn’t make you happy. 

 

You’re building an amazing life for yourself, your boyfriend, your friends, and your scorpion. Wait, what? Yeah. For the rest of you reading this, this is an actual part of the email Lauren sent us when we said we were arriving: 

 

We have a bed/couch here in Montpellier so you guys can stay as long as you like. You can meet Gaston, our pet scorpion (Euscorpius flavicaudis)

 

Allow me to explain. In a truly Wes Anderson-style turn of fate for this mild-mannered insect, he was wrapped in the packaging tape of a box shipped from Scandinavia to France where he was discovered and adopted by none other than two biologists. He’s been rescued, classified, and named. Talk about winning the Scorpion lottery. Homeboy lives in a terrarium chateau and hunts crickets for sport.

 

But I digress.

 

Everything we did in Montpellier made it feel like a vacation. I couldn’t have imagined two people I’d rather go on a hike with in the woods or stroll through the local Zoo with than you two. I realized how much I've been living in the digital world and how much I've been missing about the natural one. I had always harbored rather uninformed misgivings about zoos before this trip but I didn’t realize how many of the animals are there being rehabilitated from the illegal animal trade. And I learned that you can plant certain sticks into the ground and watch them grow into new trees. After extensive research I’m still not sure if I’m being punked.

 

It was all a blast. So thanks for inviting us, hosting us, guiding us, singing while cooking with us, and honestly, thanks for letting us pay for some things. Yeah, I’m calling you out! I totally thought we’d have to hide the money but you made it easy. As Mom’s been telling us our entire lives, there's a real joy in relaxing and letting the people who love you help you out. So thanks for saying thanks!

 

Until next time,

 

Je suis un espion.

 

Chris