Zero waste, part 3: Ethical underwear

I’m back with part three of my zero waste series! It’s been a busy few weeks, working eight or more hours nearly every day, and so I haven’t really had any time to write. But I figured I would give a little update on how I’ve been shopping ethically, on a budget. Shopping has always been a sort of status symbol for me- I shopped at Zara because the pieces were easy to access, affordable, and on trend- exactly why fast fashion exists. But then, a few months ago, I read this article, and my heart skipped a beat. Was I really endangering other human beings, other women, for the sake of a few cute tops or dresses? It scared me sober, and I vowed to never buy anything again from a company that didn’t have transparent production processes. So, I set about to do my research. Every time I needed something- underwear, a pair of shoes, etc- I looked for the most cost-effective and ethical way to obtain it. The principles of zero waste shopping look a little like this. First, look in your own closet to see if there’s anything that can substitute for what you need/want- and keep yourself in check. Do you really need that wrap top if you have a similar wrap dress? If it’s something you don’t already have, can you buy it secondhand, borrow it, trade/swap for it? Poshmark, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Buffalo Exchange, Crossroads, and Ebay are all great places to look for big-brand clothing that isn’t technically new- thus avoiding supporting those big brands. If you want to stay as ethical as possible, look for ethical brands (more on that in a moment) at those same second-hand stores. Finally, as a last resort, when looking to buy something brand-new (for me, that means makeup, underwear, shoes- things I can’t really thrift or second-hand), look at how their production process is ethical (how they treat their workers, where their factories are sourced) and sustainable (what materials do they use, how much water is used in their production). If a company prides themselves on these factors, you should be able to read about it in their “about us” or “our mission” on their website. If there’s no information there, you can email their customer support, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

With all that being said, I will have to break ethical shopping down into different chunks, since it’s a complicated topic, and I have a lot to say.

Underwear

Growing up, my mom always bought me Hanna Andersson cotton granny panties- which I hated at the time, but graduating to “grownup” underwear made me miss the soft practicality and organic cotton. I wore Victoria’s Secret underwear and bras, but the itchy polyester and poky underwires never sat right with my body, but I wore them because that’s what I felt I was supposed to wear. Check out Victoria’s Secret’s questionable production here. Once I made it to college, I experimented with several underwear brands- American Eagle (felt too childish and cutesy) plus their ethics are also questionable. Next, I tried Lively- a millennial-targeted underwear and bralette line. They seem generally like an OK company, but their production is still fairly vague. Temporary House-Wifey inquired about their production ethics, and this is the answer she got:

Our supply chain is supported by a world class manufacturer that has been in the business for over 60 years! They are experts and engineers in this category of business, which is why we partner with them as it is important for us to have not only a well designed product, but one with amazing quality.

Our manufacturers have partnered with us to ensure that our LIVELY ethos holds true to the factories and workplace in which we produce. They built a factory dedicated to LIVELY that we have owned for 4 years; it is brand new, full of light and a beautiful place to work in southern China. We meet and exceed fair labor practices and wages. The staff of thirty is comprised of mostly women who have the finest workmanship and passion for their craft. We know that in order to make a great product, everyone involved in the LIVELY brand has to be happy in the work they do and we want them to be #livingLIVELY!”

Strangely vague and seemingly overly cheery- as Temporary House-Wifey pointed out, these women are passionate about sewing thousands of pairs of underwear? Next.

Next up came Madewell, a brand I’ve loved for years. Similar to its sister company J.Crew, but more relaxed, tomboy, lived-in. (Read about Madewell and 19 other similar big brands’ productions here.) They released an underwear line in 2016, and I enthusiastically scooped up a good dozen pairs of their panties, and a few bralettes. But for what? The bralettes’ straps got tangled, the panties pilled after just a few washes on delicate. The comfort was, at its best, OK. I tried Urban Outfitter’s bralettes (a fail, nip slips abound). I tried Topshop’s bralettes- too scratchy. Free People’s bralettes were always a hit, but they make the list of 20 big brands to avoid. What was I going to do? I need new underwear on average once a year, and it’s not something I can buy second-hand. I have fairly sensitive skin, and I needed something cotton. I wear mainly high-waisted pants and skirts as I have a long waist, and so I needed high-waisted panties. I wanted to purchase from an ethical brand. Where was I going to find such a seemingly simple product, that didn’t feel like granny panties?

At the beginning of this year, I found PACT. A low-budget, minimalist company, they sell socks, underwear, sports bras, leggings, knit dresses, pajamas. I purchased a few pairs of socks, which are very comfortable- I got some thicker sport style socks and thin no-show pairs for flats and sneakers. Shop PACT here. (You can also buy some of their select items on Amazon- more on buying from Amazon later.)

Everlane (one of my favorite brands since 2016, before I even began this low-waste journey) released their first underwear collection this spring. I lusted after it for several months, but the S and M sizes of panties and bra were always sold out. Finally, last month, they came back in stock, and I ordered three high-waisted panties, one bikini brief, and one bra. The panties are an absolute LOVE. The high-waisted ones are of course my favorite, but the brief is good for leggings and other lower-cut pants. Soft 92% cotton, 8% elastane, made sustainably in Sri Lanka. At $12 a pair, it’s a bit spendier than I normally like- but they offer 3 pairs for $27. Not quite the 7 for $27 of my VS Pink days, but I’ll take it.

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I also purchased the only bra they offer (also pictured above)- and I was a bit underwhelmed. I have a large ribcage, so I ordered a size medium- and it’s still fairly tight, reminiscent of a sports bra, and the straps slack on my short shoulders. It’s a decent t-shirt bra though, and I appreciate the $22 price point.

I wanted a good, everyday bralette, and I searched and searched the Internet for something sustainable, high quality, yet elegant. I stumbled upon Baserange, and though the $60+ price point is steep, I have a feeling the bra I bought will last me at least a year or two without pilling. It’s comfortable, so much so I can fall asleep in it, and the straps don’t slide off or gap. They also feature models of all builds and body sizes, which I can definitely get behind.

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My most recent underwear discovery was the Swedish sock company Swedish Stockings. Ethical and eco-friendly, they are made in Sweden, minimalist, everything I could have wanted. I ordered five pairs of the Ingrid, on sale for $5 at the time, which I truthfully haven’t tried yet as it’s been so hot in Seattle, but seem like they’ll be good under boots in the fall and maybe even with sandals. Their sale is still going on, it’s a bit higher prices than when I purchased, but in my opinion highly worth the money. I accidentally completed my order twice, and emailed one of the company’s few employees (all women!), who graciously and promptly refunded my money (even though it was the middle of the night in Sweden!) They did take several weeks to arrive due to customs, so keep that in mind.

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That’s all the underwear information I’ve got! If you have any questions, please comment or find me at @lauraslavender on Instagram and send me a DM.

Good luck shopping responsibly!

Cheers,

Laura

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zero waste, part two: cooking & eating

Hey, it’s Laura, back again with a zero waste post! I figured the next logical post would be on how I feed myself, since it’s one of Maslow’s hierarchical needs.. and since food and grocery shopping can be so wasteful, zero waste initiatives/brands are targeting the food industry. When I first became zero waste, I did a lot of research on what I would need. First, I slowly used up whatever I had left in plastic packaging (I still have a few packages left), and since then I’ve really only bought in bulk or from the deli counter. Bulk/zero waste shopping takes a bit more planning than normal, but it’s nice to know I’m not wasting money or efficiency on wasted food. I just recently started receiving an Imperfect Produce box, which gives me enough fruits and veggies for one person for about $15-25 a week, and that’s organic! Great to know I’m reducing food waste and saving money at the same time. I’ve been trying to be vegan/mostly vegetarian since around March, but for those meat eaters, know that meat and cheese can be bought without packaging at the deli counter! I haven’t done it, but I know you can take your own container along- I purchased these stainless steel tiffins, and use them for carrying food around (lunches), or storing leftovers. They keep food hot for about an hour, but can’t go in the microwave for obvious reasons! If you consume dairy, I recommend buying milk and cream in glass bottles- Seattle has a few different dairy farms that charge a deposit when you buy the bottle but returns it to you when you return the empty bottle- or you can recycle it. For non-dairy milk, there’s really no perfect option (since there are none that come in glass bottles)- but I’ve recently started making my own with a nut milk bag, like this one. It’s really easy to make but spoils quickly so I recommend making a small batch every few days. You can also make oat milk or flax milk or rice milk! For butter, options aren’t fantastic. In an ideal world, we would all make our own butter. If you have a local dairy, ask them if you can buy dairy in bulk- if I am consuming butter (vegan or dairy) I will buy butter in sticks and throughly wash the wrappers the sticks come in, so they and the box they come in can both be recycled. Fruits and vegetables obviously can be bought without any container, but if you’re buying something like plums or peppers that are small, you can buy mesh bags like these. For bulk items, like flour, rice, nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, coffee.. you have two options: either you take your jars in directly and have the store tare them first (ask before you do this as not every grocery store is willing to do this- co-ops are more likely to!), or you can buy some bags like these to carry your bulk items home in, and then record the codes on a single sheet of paper or in the notes on your phone!

IMG_4853.JPGWhen it comes to finding jars, I have bought probably 90% of mine from Value Village- people donate nearly new Le Parfait jars (which go for as much as $20 a pop!) I’ve been slowly adding to my jar collection, and have both spring-top Le Parfait style ones as well as screw-top mason jars. If you’re looking for a few inexpensive jars to start your bulk food shopping, my good friend Gabrielle and I took a trip to Specialty Bottle in South Seattle, where you can browse all kinds of bottles, tins, and jars, and then order what you’d like for as little as 20 cents a piece! To start out my collection, I got a few of each size of these guys, fairly cost-effective and a good way to jump-start your bulk storage.


IMG_4851-2.JPGAs far as eating out goes, it doesn’t hurt to ask the restaurant if they’ll put your food in your own container- I saw a video where a woman in New Zealand took a bowl to work everyday and asked the restaurant to put her lunch in it! If you’re not feeling brave enough for that, try and frequent places that offer compostable containers. I try and carry a zero waste kit when I’m out and about, with a reusable (just from your kitchen!) knife, fork, spoon, a cloth napkin, a
stainless steel straw, my Klean Kanteen water bottle, and my KeepCup coffee cup. (Klean Kanteen has been my family’s go-to water bottle brand since I was a kid- and KeepCup was invented and designed in Australia, the glass cup is recyclable/reusable as a normal drinking glass, the lid is recyclable, and the cork band is compostable! I was clumsy last week and dropped my cup- I was able to easily order one off their website and it came in just three days, they have offices in LA!) As far as snacks go,I try to snack on things like homemade granola bars, banana bread, roasted nuts, and of course fresh fruits and veg. This eliminates the waste from wrappers and containers that I would normally throw away from traditional energy bars or snacks. Finally, the cheapest tip of all is to ask for your food/coffee for here- you’ll be saving single-use cutlery, plates, containers, and cups- and you might slow down a bit and enjoy what you’re consuming more! If I forget my KeepCup, I’ll just take my coffee for here and finish what I can before I have to leave.IMG_4850.JPG

That’s it for this post! Let me know if you have any questions.

xo, Laura

zero waste, part one: personal care

Hello everyone, it’s been a few years. I left my study abroad and planted myself in Seattle, Washington. It’s been lonely and rough and also joyous, but I’m in my last year at university. A lot of things have changed, but I still love creating. I studied abroad again last fall in a bigger city called Grenoble, which is close to Lyon, tucked right in the Alps. My roommate Gabrielle, who’s an eco studies major, began the zero waste initiative, and I was intrigued but thought it was impossible for me, with little money and time.

Zero waste is not impossible, for anyone. And that’s because zero waste isn’t about 0% waste- it’s about reducing the amount of plastic and single-use items you consume. I definitely acknowledge that plastic-wrapped items are usually the most accessible at the lowest prices, but things like fruits and vegetables and rice and beans can be bought in bulk, etc, you can ask for your drink without a straw, there are so many small steps that make a big difference in reducing waste. One principle I learned when adapting the zero waste lifestyle is: Use up what you have first. I still own many plastic items, I’m waiting for them to wear out so I can slowly replace them with sustainable alternatives.

There are dozens of zero-waste bloggers, but I thought it might be interesting to write my own perspective on the movement/lifestyle so my friends and family can see how it’s worked for me.

I’ll be breaking it down into several segments, with the first being personal care/my bathroom, because that’s what I transitioned when I first adapted the zero-waste mindset. It’s what most intrigued me about zero waste, with the shiny stainless steel razors and beautiful bamboo toothbrushes.

Lauren over at Package Free has plenty of these products, but most of them are also available at Amazon. I try to order multiple things at once to reduce waste, but if you order from Package Free or another favorite, Wild Minimalist, their packaging is 100% recyclable or compostable, which is pretty neat.

I’ll start from the head up:

Hair Care

Washing/Conditioning

Anyone who knows me knows my hair is anything but tame- it’s a wild mess of curls and frizz, that I’ve abused and mistreated over the past three years with bleach and over processing and heat. Gone are those days, I chopped my hair into a pixie in October and haven’t looked back. My bleached ends are almost grown out, and I rarely even blow-dry my hair- and as long as I don’t fall asleep with it dripping wet, my natural texture has grown on me. I know there are plenty of zero-wasters out there who have remarkable success with the apple cider vinegar hair wash, or using baking soda, or some other remedy, but I was recommended the Lush shampoo/conditioner bars by my good friend Gabrielle, and so wanted to try those as a first resort. I’ve never shopped much at Lush besides for bath bombs, but their solid shampoo and conditioner bars are simply amazing. Each bar lasts around three months (if you wash your hair every other day like I do)- if you wash your hair less often you can stretch them out. I also bought the coordinating tins, and find them really practical for toting around the shampoo and conditioner bars, as well as body soap. A warning, though: don’t store your shampoo/conditioner bars in the shower (where running water/steamy moisture can get to them) as this will break them down/turn them into a runny mess. Learned that the hard way.) Lush is a fairly great company ethics-wise, as well, as their products are made equitably and they have a program called Charity Pot, which a portion of the proceeds go towards charities around the world. (Also, I’ve heard that if you buy their products in plastic containers, which I do not, you can bring them back and receive a free product for every 3 pots you bring back).

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Hair Styling

I haven’t been doing much in the past few months in terms of styling, as my pixie is nearing a short bob and looks pretty cute on its own, I will occasionally add a dab of styling wax or texture spray (left over from my pre-zero waste era) and use the last bottle of dry shampoo I own (I’ve made my own before and plan on doing so again after I run out). I do add a few drops of Trader Joe’s organic argan oil if it’s feeling dry or brittle towards the ends (where the bleach damage is). For brush and comb, I switched out from plastic to bamboo brush and comb, both of which can be composted (I’ll have to pull out the bristles from the brush first) after they have reached the point where they can’t be used anymore.

Body Care

As far as body washing goes, I used to buy a big plastic bottle of body wash- but now I use bar soap. It’s just as moisturizing and relaxing as the suds of body wash, but comes either unpackaged (at the Ballard farmer’s market) or in recyclable paper wrapping (Lush, Dr. Bronners’ or a boutique in Fremont that I like). For deodorant, this has been a bit of a difficulty for me- I used clinical deodorant for so long as an avid dancer and athlete, I smelled terrible each time I left the studio. However, I’ve been doing a lot of research on the differences between deodorant and antiperspirants- and most antiperspirants actually clog up your sweat glands, preventing you from sweating (an important biological function). I started making my own, using this recipe but if you’re feeling lazy Package Free Shop or Amazon sell a kind by a brand called Meow Meow Tweet, that comes in compostable packaging. I store mine in a mini mason jar. Note that you’ll need to apply it and let it dry before getting dressed- or you’ll have coconut oil stains up in your pits. Not fun. For shaving, this was a big change. I was used to buying plastic razors in multipacks and tossing them in the trash every two or three weeks, or buying replaceable razor heads (not much better). I purchased this stainless steel safety razor  which has worked beautifully for me. At $16, it’s budget-friendly and will last you years. You can also buy one through Package Free, but I believe it’s closer to $35. It comes with a pack of five blades (you can buy replacements) and the old blades you should keep in a glass jar or aluminum can for later recycling (you don’t want the poor recycling workers to cut themselves). To replace the blade (which seems intimidating), you simply twist the bottom of the handle, pop the blade in, and twist it back to close the “lips” of the razor. Note: Don’t keep your razor in the shower as it can rust. Take it out every time you use it, give it a rub with your towel, and put it somewhere safe pets and kids can’t get to. I like to hang mine on the lips of a small mason jar, but watch out it doesn’t fall. Many people have asked me about the dangers of using a safety razor, but it’s really not that much scarier than a normal woman’s razor! Just be careful, go slowly, go in the direction of the hair growth, then go the other way- it’s a guaranteed close, smooth shave. Using an emollient soap or shaving cream helps- I make my own with cocoa butter using this recipe and keep it in a Le Parfait pop-top jar. (More to come on where to find/how to buy jars.) I don’t typically use body lotion/cream, but I know it’s easy to make your own or buy it in bulk at your local health food store (Ballard Market is mine). I just slather on coconut oil after I shave my legs and they feel silky smooth after.

Skincare/Makeup

This one is the toughest- if any of you know me well you know my obsession with makeup. Last year I had a lot, and this year I’ve been paring down and finding the absolute essentials that I need. Not everything I use is zero waste yet, and Sephora recently released a Clean Beauty section featuring many brands with recyclable packaging, which makes zero waste makeup easily accessible. Or, you can always make your own- which I have not been brave enough to do yet!

I recently received this Herbivore Botanicals face oil from my boss- and it’s done wonders for my combination skin! Not greasy but hydrating, and smells good- pricey but nice. If you have dry skin, using straight almond or jojoba or argan oil would be a nice choice. For acne/oily skin, activated charcoal or bentonite clay are good options. When I have a zit, I put a small drop of tea tree oil right on it at night and by morning it’s considerably shrunk! As far as face cleansing goes, I’m currently using this Lush face cleansing bar, which works well, but it leaves my skin feeling a little tight. For makeup removal, I don’t usually have much to remove- but to get stubborn lipstick stains off, I resort to coconut oil and these handmade reusable cotton pads. (You can definitely make your own but I’m not great at sewing… sorry Mom.)

Concealer/foundation-wise, I’ve gone a long way from wearing a full face of full-coverage foundation to spot-concealing my trouble areas (under my eyes, my forehead, around my nose, and my chin). I’m using the RMS Un-Cover Up, which is honestly fairly light-coverage but works decently in the shade 11 (highlighting on my tan-ish skin around this time of year)- you can purchase at Sephora here). It works okay but is slightly greasy at times, there are other foundations with recyclable packaging that I’m excited to try out. RMS’s Lip2Cheek, however, is my favorite go-to product, even without other makeup. It adds moisture and shine and makes me feel like a dewy fairy. Mascara, brow gel, brow pomade, bronzer, and my brow pencil are all currently still “wasteful” purchases, since I wanted to use up what I had before. My brows have grown considerably in the past few months, which I’m grateful for- of course if you have naturally bushy brows you don’t have to worry about filling them in! I might get mine microbladed at some point, and that would eliminate the need for buying eyebrow product. For highlight, I purchased W3ll People’s highlight stick  which is honestly comparable to the cream highlighters I used before from brands like Becca and Anastasia Beverly Hills. It adds a beautiful but subtle shimmer to my cheekbones, Cupid’s bow, browbone, sometimes I even use it as a creamy eyeshadow. My most recent zero-waste purchase was this lipstick in RMS Red- it makes me feel like a 1940s movie star. It stays on fairly well, even through a meal or a drink.

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Dental Hygiene

My whole life, my parents have been sticklers on dental hygiene: it’s important to prevent cavities. I wholeheartedly agree with this, and have had this mindset since I was a child. So, to find a solution that agrees with the zero-waste mindset was a bit tricky. I knew I needed to keep flossing- and, this is embarrassing, I had never used regular floss before, always single-use plastic flossers. I bought this silk floss, and it’s easy to wrap around my fingers and get into the hard-to-reach spots in the back of my mouth. Someday if I have enough money, I’d like to buy a Waterpik that essentially replaces floss with the power of a tiny power washer. I debated renewing my electric toothbrush subscription (Quip), but realized that with enough vigorous brushing with the bamboo toothbrush I bought in France (that I now use for my brows) was enough to clean my gums- I’ve found a similar toothbrush here, also available at Package Free Shop.

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That’s all for now! I’ll be back with more zero waste insight, hope what I wrote was helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them!

Cheers!

Laura x

“To make an end is to make a beginning.” -T.S. Eliot

It’s hard to put in words how I feel. The pain cuts the worst at night, when somehow the open sky pulls me closer to the past and won’t let me fall asleep. Brief, blurry moments strung together make the past ten months seem like some kind of dream, the kind that you wake up and your heart drops because you return to reality, or a lengthy film about somebody else’s life, somewhere else, that you lose yourself in completely, if only for an hour or two.

That was my life. Mine.

I often think of the times when I sat feeling sorry for myself, when I could have been living. Those were the times that I was small and fragile. I don’t look back with regret- those times were necessary for me to accomplish something, to overcome some minuscule demons lurking, and then, I think of the times when I jumped off cliffs and danced with strangers and lived in the moment- and I know that in those moments, I was bigger than I ever dreamed.

Back in my little hometown, I’m back into my tidy cozy routine, hardly leaving the city limits. I’m alone a lot now, and surprisingly, I like it. Silence is better than bull****. When I’m driving through the golden fields alongside the lake, one hand dangling from the open window, and the other on the wheel, hair whipping; I hear a song and I smile, just a little bit.

Little things can carry so many thoughts. I have a faded, generically black dress with rips in the underarms from too much wear from H&M that I bought two summers ago with Clem (my host mom had the same one in grey), on my first exchange, as a naïve 16-year-old. It’s carried me through the first day of senior year (twice), long family Christmas dinners, errand running solo in the 7th in Paris, and sweet too-short sunny days in Colmar parks. It’s been across the Atlantic and back, twice. The dress- it’s not important. What I did in it was.

This isn’t the last you’ll hear from me. I’ll have other adventures, I know, though never any nearly as grand as this. I’ll be in Seattle for university, and after, I dream of seeing every corner of the world that holds a fragment of my heart.

To those that follow: Your dreams are important. Work hard- really hard. Don’t give up, keep going. Know that you are worthy of love, even when those around you tell you that you are not. Put down the phone. Live a little.

It’s all going to be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

au revoir (see you again)

-l

day 290: what I’ve been listening to this year

okay, so I kind of lied. this is by far not my last post. but since I finally figured out how to make French spotify work, I made a series of playlists, each relates to a different moment from my exchange year, to show a little of what I’ve been jamming to this year. give them a listen & enjoy!

part 1: the plane ride over & homesickness

part 2: the holidays spent away from home & discovering French Christmas traditions

part 3: winter blues & reflecting

part 4: only young once

part 5: euro tour

part 6: holding on just to let go (skinny love)

part 7: awful and amazing and beautiful

xo, L

day 285: if you were given the chance to do it again, would you?

hello everyone! sorry it’s been awhile since you heard from me- I haven’t been terribly busy per say, just trying to absorb every last moment of my French life and also have been trying to form together my scattered thoughts and feelings into something halfway comprehensible.

I expected exchange to finish neatly, like any other accomplishment I’ve passed in my life. A check off a laundry list of life, a year squared off, summarized by several blurry tourist-y photos, followed by a tidy round of goodbyes. What actually occurred was nothing at all as I planned. I recklessly fell in love with strangers, and blissfully pioneered tired landmarks without realizing how many times over my heart would break, but it’s okay, because that’s where the light comes in. it is truly a blessing and a curse to feel everything so rawly and wholly.

after the Euro Tour, I had the spontaneous idea to go visit my many friends I made over the two week trip in Alsace, a department about 5 hours away on train! thanks to a supportive host mom who helped me figure out the logistics, it was such a surreal and lovely week spent just being together. we had our final Rotary event, where it was so difficult to say goodbye to those eleven strangers who have become family. Sunday, I moved for the last time, to my friend Elodie’s house, whose family has been so kind and generous to me.

these three last weeks are full of lasts. I went to my last contemporary class on a stormy, humid Friday night, and left drenched in sweat and tears. school is drawing to an end as well, with most of my classmates already gone to study for their baccalaureates, and my books given back to the office. there is a school ball (“American” themed) on next Friday night that I am helping to organize, and so Elodie and I went to Aix-en-Provence Saturday and I found a lovely dress- H&M is a lifesaver! and also got to spend one last precious afternoon drinking coffee and wandering the streets of Aix with Grace and Carlisle, who were there for their French SAT exam. otherwise, my last choir practice is Wednesday , after which we’ll be eating dinner at the high school’s restaurant (the senior students are passing their service and cuisine baccalaureates!). next weekend, I’m going back to Aix-en-Provence for final meetings for Interact and Rotary, and I will get to see my good Belgian friends the Morcauts, who have been so kind to me! finally, Friday the 19th I will eat dinner one last time at Isabelle’s house, and Saturday the 20th, the Beuchots have been kind enough to offer to drive me to the Marignane airport at two o’clock in the morning. and then, I’ll be home.

but it’s really not home anymore. thinking about what I left behind nine months ago, my roots seem so distant and foreign. home has become wherever I feel loved. I’m scared out of my wits that the girl who before merely existed, but who has since shattered into an intricate person who lives, will no longer be able to meld into her former comfortable existence. and that’s okay.

a few weeks ago, I got a Facebook message out of the blue from a Brazilian girl who will be in District 1760- my district- next year. she asked me nervously if I had made any friends, and then abruptly asked me a question that I hadn’t ever considered. if I was given the chance to do it again, would I?

the answer is: hell yes.

see you soon for one last post.

xoxo,
L

day 262: “J’entends ta voix dans tous les bruits du monde. // I hear your voice in all the world’s noise. ” -Paul Eluard

The people whose lives intersect with mine, if even so briefly, have imprinted on my heart, and will never fade.

Sometimes, it’s peculiar how astonishing life can be. You fall profoundly into love when you least expect it, and it is impossible to recover. Three weeks ago, I left for the Euro Tour feeling bitter anticipation for a trip spent with strangers- yet every one became inexorably precious to me.
We spent two delightful weeks together- that seemed so brief and boundless, all at the same time. Drifting in and out of sleep on an eerily hushed bus in the last few astringent rays of sunshine together, ninety exchange students singing along to “Ella me paró el taxi” in an abandoned Italian disco tech dancing under neon lights, delicious deep-fried cinnamon-sugar pastries on cloudy Prague streets, admiring breathlessly Swiss glaciers, and 2 am stifled laughter on hotel beds. These precious memories I have with them are so fleeting, and are briskly fading to a cloudy haze… I desperately refuse to forget them.

To every single one of you, thank you.

I will listen carefully for each of your voices in all the world’s noise- and maybe you will hear mine.

xo, L