"Why I'm Off the Pill": Day ONE: The VERY LONG DRIVE. May 2010

On s'est tromper.

We thought it was Parisian 'holiday' time which would have meant leaving Paris at 5 AM to avoid 'embouteillages' or the great traffic jams of the French autoroutes. Instead, we leisurely made our way to Michael's mothers to grab the car, fill it with diesel and be on our way.

I am instantly regretting not having learned to drive a stick. Poor Michael's got a lot of driving ahead - and that's going to be the least of his worries. He won't know that until the following day but at this point, he's already concerned. I stock my iPod full of playlists that I think he'll like, games to play and the rest.

It's mostly a quiet drive. He's awfully concentrated. This is why he was hesitant to do a real tour of the country. He knew he'd be the only one to do the long legs. I sit comfortably back. The car's in pretty good shape by this point. Clean-ish. The iPod's fully charged. Only after several hours of not moving do I realize that this will soon feel like a prison. The one who drives gets to choose the stops.

I am so looking forward to trying different foods, cheeses and wines all across this beautiful country and excited to see where we'll make our first stop. To my great dismay, Michael chooses a gas station.

"Let's eat. Quickly. And then back on the road."

A variety of pre-packaged meats and cheeses await. I don't want any of it. We may be in France and they might be fancier than back at home but a gas station sandwich is a gas station sandwich in any country. And it's bloody expensive. I can feel a tantrum bubbling in my belly but I hold it in. I don't want to ruin the trip from the get-go. I choke down my chicken salad and we get back on the road.

I'm so bored and HOT! For some reason, Michael likes to drive with the windows closed. I guess the noise but seriously. I've never taken a road trip with the windows least not without a little air conditionning. Eight hours of this is going to kill me, let alone a week. The highways here aren't anything like at home. Well, that's not entirely true. It's like the 401 that never ends and by day one, I'm seriously underwhelemed by France. It looks a lot like the drive from Pearson to Oshawa. Industrial, bleak - at least it's sunny out today. Still, the signs are confusing as Hell. I think they're putting in towns an hour in advance just to make you believe you're almost there. It's never true. You're not even close if you look at the map. Of course, I don't really feel like looking at the map at all. I don't know the difference between A and N and D. Apparently they're all different highways. And, did you know you have to PAY to use the highways here? Yeah, the first toll is 30 euros. Just to drive on the road. Absurde.

We stop at a grocery store to get some things for supper. We're arriving at a Chambre d'Hote (B & B) later on and I didn't order the dinner. The nearest town is miles away. Michael picks a variety of things I don't want and I'm just trying to be a good sport so I don't say anything. Like a natural woman, I don't think twice about being passive aggressive: "Yeah, of course it's fine..." I scowl, thinking "Why the Hell doesn't this guy get that I don't like sausages or prosciutto?." Whatever. I found a hat for the canoe ride. At least my head won't be burnt.

We arrive at the first B & B: Moulin de Charrier. It's on a lovely little river. The south looks just like I imagined it would. Purple flowers dripping from colourful houses. The sun bouncing off the volets. Our room has three beds. I laugh and tell Michael I'm taking the top bunk while he crashes down, barely able to move he's so exhausted. But we're here. We're in Ardeche. I was particularly excited about star gazing that night by the river. The place advertised the amazing view of the sky from their property. We take our wine and cold slimey meat and some goat's cheese and pick at our dinner while we sit on a rock listening to the stream. It was nice. It's getting dark. I can't wait.

We head back upstairs and Michael says he wants to take a nap. What about the stars? Nevermind, you've had a long drive. I'll give you a massage and I'll go watch them myself.

There are no stars. There are clouds and the motion-sensored lights make it so I can't see a damn thing. I'm pissed. I go back to the room. I'm not feeling well. Shit.

I end up sleeping in the bunk bed so I don't wake Michael. He looks so sweet and peaceful. I'm a bitch for having been so passive today. The guy's just trying to be nice. Several hours later and I still can't sleep or breathe. Someone must have been horseback riding here or there must have been a dog at some point. I've sucked back too much ventolin already and I've got the shakes. I'm going to open the window. It's pretty chilly but I really can't breathe. Eventually I pass out to the noise of the moving water.

Only minutes later, Michael is awake and pacing around the room wondering where the Hell I've gone. The bunk bed is tucked into a little nook so he can't see that I'm actually there. He tries calling my cell phone but I've turned it off. He sees the open window and panics until he sees me and asks me to come to bed looking relieved that I hadn't disappeared into the night. I'm a little irritable that he's woken me up. I can't get back to sleep. I'm starting to think about the canoe ride ahead and I'm getting worried.

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