Hello Friends and Family,
Thank you all for your sweet birthday messages. It was great to hear from so many of you, and I felt very loved all the way across the Atlantic. I am grateful to so many people for helping me have such a fantastic 23rd birthday. Let me start by thanking my parents. This past weekend we played Mulhouse, a team in the east of France. It just so happens that one of my best friends, Lauren Plum (shout-out to you Plummer!!), plays for Mulhouse. Instead of having to travel back home with the team after our match, my parents bought me a plane ticket so I could stay with Lauren for the weekend and fly home Sunday. Getting to spend time with her and my other friends with a break from volleyball was the best birthday present ever. So thank you Mom and Dad!
Lauren lives right near the German border, and only an hour and a half drive from Zurich, Switzerland. It works out perfectly that two of our good friends, Natalie Hagglund and Emily Hartong, play volleyball in Zurich. So we loaded up the car and headed their way. We got a sweet surprise when we arrived to their apartment and Kelly Reeves was there! She plays for a team about 40 minutes outside of Zurich, and she hopped on a train to come up and be with us. These are all girls that I got to train with this year at the USA Winter Training Block in California. We had an absolute blast together, and became very close. So I cannot understate what a treat this was for us all to be reunited. I really missed these girls.
We treated our evening festivities as my birthday celebration, and it was epic. I wanted to pinch myself thinking about how cool it was that we were all together. It was so mentally refreshing to be with my good friends laughing, joking, and having fun. We had a weekend free from volleyball and just for adventures. The next morning we drove up a mountain to this cool spot that overlooks all of Zurich. There was a little restaurant up there where we got to sit outside and soak up the amazing view. Zurich is an incredible city with so much going on. There are many attractions between the scenic bodies of water backed up by the snow-capped mountains. And the city is home to many cathedrals and beautiful sights. I’m definitely going to do my best to get back there before I have to head back to the States. I need more time to explore that amazing city. I was sad to leave after such an incredible weekend, but I left with some amazing memories. I feel so lucky that I had the opportunity to not only visit Zurich for my birthday, but to be there with people I love. That’s pretty special.
Now, I have to thank my teammates here in Vannes for making my actual birthday so great. They treated me like I was Queen for the day. It started when I woke up to knocking at my front door from Korrin, Jenna and Bianca with them yelling ‘happy birthday!’ Korrin had made a gourmet breakfast with all of my favorite things. She even put mushrooms in the scrambled eggs. Sidenote: since living in France I have started to like many foods that I before would not have even consider letting touch my plate. i.e. mushrooms, olives, anchovies…I know, it’s weird. Later on at practice I received many cheek kisses from my teammates. It’s a thing here. And they also serenaded me to the French version of the ‘Happy Birthday Song’. While it was definitely out of tune, I appreciated it! Also, even when I said things at practice that were wrong, they went with it and let me be right because it was my birthday. For that, I wish it was my birthday every day. Later on, Jenna surprised me with homemade brownies! She knew they were my favorite and went out of her way to make them for me. We don’t have an oven in our apartments, and have to go downstairs and ask for help to use the building’s oven. So I took this as a grand gesture. It was very sweet of her. (See what I did there.) Remember sweet Magda from my first blog post who saved me from buying rabbit? She gave me a nice candle in my favorite fall scent, apples & cinnamon. I think I mentioned it to her once that I like candles like that, and she remembered. What a great and thoughtful friend.
Later on in the evening, Korrin, Bianca, Tyreese (Bianca’s Husband), Jenna and I went out to dinner at our favorite restaurant. It is a cute little pizza and pasta place with a brick oven where you can watch the chef hand-make the pizza. It also overlooks the town’s gardens. The two men who work there know us now, and they seem excited to see us when we come in. Bianca told them it was my birthday so they brought out little glasses of champagne and a slice of bread with candles in it. Haha Yes, a slice of bread. It was a very cute gesture, and I ate the bread with pleasure! I’m not one to shy away from fresh-baked carbs!
All in all I had a fantastic French birthday. I am so grateful to everyone who took the time to contact me and make my day special. Thank you to those who sent cards and packages all the way over to France. The lady who gives us our mail was so excited to tell me I had packages from the USA! (This might be because she knows how excited I get. The first package I received, I may or may not have started crying right in front of her. #sorrynotsorry) I feel so lucky to have such amazing friends here in Europe who went out of their way to make sure I had the best day. I feel so full of happiness when I think about my fun weekend in Zurich, and I feel so loved by my teammates here in Vannes. I couldn’t have had a better day.