Since our return from France, I have been plunged into a six week rowing program that has left me missing our funny family. My team traveled for 5 hours in a bus to a regatta in Saratoga last week, and I was laughing to myself about all the hours I have spent in busses this summer. But this one was blue and definitely not as cool as our obnoxiously American red French bus driven by the one and only Christian. So I sat in the back and was fully expecting Dr. Blunt to pop his head out from the seats explaining how board he was, or someone to poke an already snoring JT… and I found myself missing all of our crazy adventures and especially our inside jokes. I cannot tell you how many times I have used one of our catch phrases and gotten some pretty weird looks because no one understands. So, I have decided to list out a few of my favorite ones.
Boys Gite: No shoes no rules
It was HILARIOUS
Literally dying right now
Shut up JT
Guys, we have to find a gelato place here.
I’ve seen donkeys run
Santander or Santander?
God Damnit Peter
AND THEN I JUST CHUNDAHED EVERYWHERE!!!
And by the way, I took this picture on the morning we left the Gites, the only day we ever saw the sun the whole time we were there. I miss all of you, and hope that your summers have been amazing. I can’t wait to see you all again in the fall
One of my favorite moments of the trip was during our last day in Paris. It was just a little moment, something that made my day brighter. We had some extra time before we had to meet up with the rest of the group for dinner, so we took a detour to the Love Lock Bridge. We spent about five minutes making fun of the comically large heart-shaped locks, the obviously expensive engraved ones, the ones that the vendors not 10 feet away were shouting about, until someone spoke what a small part of each one of us was thinking. “How many of these do you think have actually lasted?” After a few groans about ruining the moment, someone else said, “but actually though.” We all nodded, facing the depressing truth. But then I saw this little red luggage lock, no bigger than a 1 euro coin, and it made me smile. D and J used whatever lock they could find just to leave their mark…no matter how small.
I have never felt the emotional connection to memorials. I always understood the depth of emotion they contained, and felt capable of feeling it, but never truly felt it. Until we arrived at the American Cemetery on Utah Beach. All morning we had been hearing about the troops who gave their lives, and they were continually referred to as “the boys”. When Peter first called them this, it sounded strange to me because all of the guys on the Andover crew team (my own brother included) whom I have come to know and love so much, are referred to as “the boys”. But the more he talked, the more I realized the connection. These troops were no different than the crew guys. They were not much older, not from any drastically different circumstances.
As we walked along the path beside Utah beach, I couldn’t help but imagine the troops fighting there, and those troops transformed into my friends. Not some nameless face charging up the beach and fighting his way through the crashing surf, but my brothers, my best friends. So when we turned that corner around a few tall hedges and the view opened up to thousands upon thousands of crosses, I found myself choking up and gasping for air. And as I walked along the rows, reading each name and each man’s home town, I couldn’t help but seeing, for a flash, a name I knew engraved into the white stone.
That is when I realized the difference between seeing a monument and reading about it… between knowledge and emotion. Knowing boys who are exactly like “the boys” made this memorial hit much closer to home for me. The moment when I turned the corner and saw the whole landscape, dotted with those little white reminders of each person who gave his life, will remain the most emotionally profound and impactful moment of this trip.
I GIVE UNTO THEM ETERNAL LIFE AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH
I can now say that I have figured out how to survive in Paris’s Metro and train network. After going back and forth a few times, between delayed trains and visiting the restoration lab and returning the Piette pebble, we were on our feet quite a bit. We took a train out to le Chateau de Saint Germain, home of le Musee D’Archeologie National (le MAN). We spent the whole day in Saint Germain, exploring many of the rooms and galleries in the old castle. However, after our visit to the restoration labs, exhausted, one of the curators told us we had one more place to visit. Some very tired looks were passed around, but we begrudgingly agreed. And after passing through a long gallery, two ropes, climbing 5 flights of stone steps, and through a locked blue door, we came out onto the roof of the chateau to an incredible view of the city. Let’s just say it was worth the walk.
I first heard about the Piette program in the closing weeks of fall term. It was a particularly hot Friday, seventh period. I sat in Dr. Blunt’s history 200 class as the horribly configured Sam Phil heating network was continuously blasting hot air into the already sticky room, making all of us forget about the advancing winter… But as soon as he pulled out the poster I couldn’t believe what an amazing opportunity this was… I knew, no matter what the outcome, I had to try and apply. Remarkable chances such as this do not present themselves very often, and looking around the room between one kid falling asleep and another not-so-stealthily packing up his bag, I saw Ashley and Michaela light up as much as I did. The more information I got about the trip, the more excited I became, and with such a great group of both students and teachers, this is going to be an unforgettable experience.
I am going to be documenting the adventures we have through a series of photos and poems, two of my favorite things, and cannot wait to get started. With such a busy year, I have not gotten to write as much as I would like to, so I am extremely excited to get back at it again. I have traveled to a few different cities in Europe and found each one more inspiring than the last, with amazing people, art and food. I’m ready to start exploring a new place!!