I will leave early this afternoon for Milano. Mauricette has already left for work, and I am to drop the set of keys she gave me into her mailbox when I leave for the train station, which is only a block or so away. I left my large bag in a locker on the lower level of the train station. I may have to pay 16 additional francs to get it out of the locker today.
In Lausanne, I have not had much opportunity to use French during this stay. Mauricette speaks English from her year and a half in Charleston and was eager to use it with me. We went on Sunday to a luncheon with the Lausanne English-speaking club, of which she is the current president. We had a very pleasant lunch; I sat next to a woman (Gizelle) who spent several years in the U.S., spoke English very well, and seemed eager to talk. She and I had a lot in common; she is probably livelier and more extroverted than I am, but she’s another one of these women (like me), who’s probably too independent to thrive in the institution of marriage. Mauricette is a different case – retiring and actually eager for relationship, but she’s also mistrustful, and with good reason.
After the luncheon at Morges, Mauricette, Giselle and I wandered through the grounds of the Morges palace where a tulip festival was in full bloom – hundreds of beds of tulips (apparently 5,000 bulbs from Turkey) of many colors and forms. They were gorgeous! The sky was misting slightly, so the others in the English-speaking club decided to go home after lunch. But I was very glad we stayed and saw the tulips. I took a lot of pictures; we’ll see if they do justice to the glory of the tulips. I read somewhere recently (and also had heard previously) that the first major world-wide financial crisis came about because of speculation on the price of tulip bulbs. Weather problems may have contributed to that financial disaster.
Mauricette lives in a small, three-room apartment that she has rented for years, since before she came to Charleston (January 1989). She has a regular, well-ordered life, and is working two part-time jobs: one assisting in histology and embryology at the medical school (Anatomy Department); the other teaching in the technical school for medical technologists, etc. Above her kitchen table, where we sat for most of our meals and conversations, is an enlarged photo of her as a toddler, between ages one and two, a very cute baby, but with a deeply unhappy expression on her face.
Mauricette has traveled a lot and learned several languages. As she told me, she had her Cuban Period (for which she learned Spanish), and her Russian Period (for which she learned Russian), and her American Period (for which she learned English) and her Egyptian Period (for which she learned Arabic), from which she has not yet extricated herself (and perhaps doesn’t want to). She has an ongoing relationship with her friend, Magda, who has been unlucky and unhappy in terms of her marriage and her children’s lives. Pictures and artifacts of Egypt are spread throughout Mauricette’s apartment. (to be continued)