(One from the archives... Claire, Jess and I at the Lafayette Mardi Gras parade back in 2006 I think.)
She spoke of things I had never heard of before... boudian, nannies, crewes, Killian's, cracklins.... I could go on but suffice it to say that it was a stateside case of culture shock. First, I had to learn how to say Lafayette (not Lawfayette), then I had my first taste of real, homemade gumbo in Claire's college apartment and I was hooked.
I remember telling Claire's mom, Renee, the next year that I wanted to make Mardi Gras a holiday my family celebrates. Big parties, fancy costumes, free jewelry, crazy decorations, time off from school... in February?! What could be better?
After my Cajun indoctrination, the Bornes became my second family. I knew their house, their neighborhood like it was my own. I had Mr. Keith's number programmed in my phone. I made curtains for our college house for hours with Renee-- when Claire was no where to be found. Our group of friends in college, the infamous Six Chicks, probably spent more time in Lafayette than anybody else's hometown.
(The Vierlings experience their very first Mardi Gras ball with the Borne family! Quite the night!)
Fast forward about six years, I am dating my crush from high school (soon to be my husband) and my first conversation with his dad after we reconnected was about a teeny tiny town in Louisiana.
(Inside of the church on the square in St. Martinville.)
Claire's wedding was in this small town, made famous by the Evangeline Oak... but even more famous because it was the same itty, bitty town that my father-in-laws family was from.
How does that happen?
You can say, "small world," and other cliche phrases to try and explain the crazy coincidence, but I can only credit that to the Lord. My lovely bunkmate and her family had perfectly prepared me to fit in with my future in-laws.
This past weekend Jim, Donna, Evan and I went down to Lafayette to visit Evan's grandparents. We snacked on craklins from the gas station as soon as we hit Louisiana turf. I ate more rice and seafood in the past two days than I have in the past two months.
I've heard the history of the Marist family and how Mama Tea's family came to Louisiana and settled in St. Martinville. I've listened to her point out almost every house in that town and tell me who used to live there... I got to point out where Claire and Joe got married.
(We took the bridesmaid's pictures on that balcony.)
More importantly, I feel like I am part of another wonderful Cajun family. Even though I will never eat the head of a crawfish like they do, I felt so loved and accepted right away.
God is so creative in the way he orchestrates our lives. I've always known that, but for some reason I just never thought about him connecting my sweet bunkmate to my husband's family.
(Evan standing in front of the Burke building on ULaLa's campus. His great grandpa was state senator!)
Claire, I can't thank you enough for teaching me the ropes early on and I am truly so glad that Lafayette will still be like my second home.