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Les copains de Marie-Hélène . . .

D’abord, les plus sérieuses, Camille et Amélie en état de grace, halloween 1999.

Amélie is the nun with thighs: I didn't know that nuns were endowed thighs! That witch crashed into the tree on her broomstick was my favorite Halloween decoration at home.

Amélie is the nun with thighs: I didn’t know that nuns were endowed with thighs! That witch crashed into the tree on her broomstick was my favorite Halloween decoration at home.

We were spoiled by Amélie, as were the children. She was a student locally who moved in with us for the 1999 – 2000 school year to help look after them. She may well have stayed longer, at least if the decision had been entirely ours, but moved on to pursue her studies at Berkeley. Nick and Tom had returned to live with us during the summer of 1999, and at first blush six children seemed like an awful lot! But once we got over the hump, we seemed to get by: at least, we never again had an au pair or equivalent.

Amélie is with her good buddy Camille in this photo, and both remained friends with the family for years. In fact, Amélie, who now has a baby of her own, still occasionally keeps up with us on Facebook. Félicitations, Amélie, and aren’t babies fun!!

Most of Marie-Helene’s friends, logically enough, belong to her generation. One of her closest in Santa Cruz still surprises me. Annie is the wife of one of my better friends from law school: Russ and I shared a house on the beach in Milford and called it Hotel California! Annie has never particularly appreciated yours truly. She and Marie-Helene quickly became firm friends. Wait a minute: why does this suprise me?! There was common ground right away!

We went on regular Sunday afternoon trips with the Hanlons. This one was our first visit to Pleasanton in 1999.

We went on regular Sunday afternoon trips with the Hanlons. Here’s Annie with Daphné during our first visit to Pleasanton in 1999.

Russ and Annie’s son Brendan was close to Alex and played soccer on the same team as him for the longest time. Marie-Helene and Annie remained firm friends throughout the marriage and after our separation. My guess is that Marie-Helene sees more of Russ at this point (years later) than I do: I haven’t been to the Hanlons’ house in years.

Annie made serious brownie points with both Marie-Helene and Daphne by confiding her son regularly to Daphné to babysit. Daphné is great with the little ones, and Annie’s choice made a lot of sense. It also cemented the friendship between the two mothers. Pour d’autres photos d’Annie, voir les Hanlons.

Joce and Alain, the father of her son, taken by Marie-Helene at La Grée in August 1998. I was in Yosemite with Nick and Tom that year.

Joce and Alain, the father of her son, taken by Marie-Helene at La Grée in August 1998. I was in Yosemite with Nick and Tom that year.

Back to France. Oddly enough, during all the time that we were together, I only got to know two of Marie-Helene’s friends from Paris. Yet this was where she was brought up and lived all her life until we moved to Santa Cruz. It was almost as if she didn’t have other friends. On one occasion I expressed interest in meeting a guy friend in Paris whom she had described as hysterically funny, and no, that would not be possible.

She spent a great deal of time with a girlfriend at the law firm where we met and worked together, and then astonished me by saying that she didn’t particularly care for her. Why all that time together? The other woman wanted that time, not her. But she spent that time with this non-friend for years! All a bit confusing.

Here's Faby and her sister and one of her daughters with Marie-Helene and Charlie. This one was taken at the Chateau de Thoiry during the summer of 2002. Not sure where I was that year.

Here’s Fabi (in the middle) and her sister and one of her daughters with Marie-Helene and Charlie. This one was taken at the Chateau de Thoiry during the summer of 2002. Not sure where I was that year.

I had met Joce, the bridesmaid at our wedding and a very good friend of the bride, when courting Marie-Helene, and she had been sweet to me, offering me guidance on how to approach her dear friend. But as time went on she was far from sweet with Alain, her boyfriend and the father of her son. I was an outsider, and so could not comment on who was to blame or what had happened, but according to Marie-Helene she became increasingly dissatisfied with him over time. There was no particular reason that Marie-Helene could put her finger on, at least with me, but that was the way it was.

Her second French friend whom I knew was Fabienne, normally called Fabi, who was the daughter of a friend of Marie-Helene’s father. The girls had known each other pretty much all their lives. Fabi was married to Jean, and they had four daughters together. They are an adorable family, and have their own page here. I won’t repeat here what is there. But that family too pretty much broke up over time, and Jean is close to a saint. I guess it’s normal that couples break up as ours did, but I wish it wasn’t, just as I wish that we had made it through.

Judy at a Halloween party in 2004. Yep, that's a costume, although in Santa Cruz it might not have been!

Judy at a Halloween party in 2004. Yep, that’s a costume, although in Santa Cruz it might not have been!

Most of the friends that Marie-Helene made in California came through school. That’s how it works, especially when your children are at elementary school. Fortunately, Happy Valley School was an interesting community of parents and teachers, with Silicon Valley engineers mingling easily with New Age explorers, all in our own backyard.

A gauche nous avons une “hippy pour un jour” de Santa Cruz, oû la race est toujours vivante, comme les dinosaures de Jurassic Parc ! Elle s’appelle Judy, et elle était maman à Happy Valley School.

Judy is good friends with Susan, who also became good friends with Marie-Helene. All three mothers had boys on the same soccer teams as well as at the same school. Judy had Anton and Susan had Ean, both on Charlie’s team. For years, maybe ten years altogether. Long after their boys had moved on from elementary school, they were still playing together almost every week on the soccer field, and practicing together several times a week.

susan-b40-kitchen

Susan helping out in our kitchen during a celebratory meal in 2005. Forget which one. She is a serious ccok!

As a result, the mothers spent a lot of hours together on the sidelines as their boys played together. To be honest, the mothers were not always engrossed in the play on the field: elles papaotaient constamment!  Endless chatter. Plus they would arrange carpools to get the boys to and from practice. That’s how friendships are formed.

Susan turned Marie-Helene on to a hobby of hers during the later part of our relationship, stamping. The fact that she sold Marie-Helene supplies for this hobby in no way diminished our appreciation! The hobby became a significant means of expression for Marie-Helene: the scrapboooks which she put together for Daphné and Alban around the time of their respective high school graduations were quite lovely.

Un des hommes de sa vie ! Que fait-il là, on peut bien se demander . . .

A gauche, Liz avec Daphné, àHappy Valley School en 2004.