I loved Paris, before Paris was cool.
image source: Photobucket
In the recent years, the idea of decorating your homes with Eiffel Towers and anything French has become très chic, well I was doing it even before then. That's right, Me and Paris became a thing almost 20 years ago. I don't know what quite drew me to the whole idea of France, but once I started taking French classes in high school, I was hooked. Almost 90% of students took Spanish, and who can blame them, but I needed to be different and take French. Yes, I'm different alright. It was the whole introduction to a new culture, their beautiful language, the landmark of the Eiffel Tower or shall I say the Tour de Eiffel, and my curiosity on how other people live in another country. Do I speak French fluently? Ah no. Umm hell no. Learning French was/is hard. I can still remember some of those silly phrases, that they make you learn in class. Not sure these help me today .. but in case you were wondering .. here we go.
Parlez-vous français ? (Do you speak French?)
Comment allez-vous? (How are you?) Bien, merci, et toi ? (Good, thanks, and you?)
La Gare (Train) La Banque (Bank) La Plage (Beach) La Bibliothèque (Library)
I could get really far in France, you think?
Yes, I can also count to ten! Its nice to see my education paid off.
Oh, and don’t we all know this? Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)? This is perhaps best known from the song Lady Marmalade. However, we really shouldn't go around asking "Do you want to sleep with me (tonight)?" Just sayin. :)
I do know a bit more, but I have a far ways to go. I have not given up in still trying to learn the language however. My English/French dictionary has gotten some good use over the years and I still have the computer programs, its the whole time issue that comes into affect now. I'm not getting any younger, so I should really just do this and make it happen.
So, yes my house is très chic in all things French. You walk into my house and you would be a fool to not see my love of the Tour de Eiffel, it would kinda be like going to Disneyland and not noticing Mickey Mouse. I have collected many things French over the years, been given many gifts, and some even from the beautiful city of Paris too. How this makes me so very happy! Please relish in some of my favorite things.
and look at this below painting .. and just imagine I am there.
So, back to the whole learning French in school thing. One day in class my teacher brings out one of those big black trash bags and its full of letters. Letters, you say? Yup, all handwritten and each in their own envelope. There were hundreds of letters, all for the taking. They were from students in France who wanted to be PenPals with us, American students. I was thrilled to say the least. I liked looking at all the different stamps , post marks, etc .. all things France just fascinated me. Not many were interested in the letters, but I sure was. My friend and I went through that bag and read many letters to see what these were all about. How ever would I choose who to be penpals with? I did the only thing my 14 year old self could think of, and so I choose a letter from a female and one with whose writing I liked the best. Don't know why I came up with that thought process, but I did and it worked. I found one letter and I remember it was even in a green envelope. The writing was beautiful, so perfect, the English was great, and so that was it, my letter. Little did I know that choosing this letter, would change my life forever. Her name was Zoé. She was just 2 years younger then me. I was so happy to have some one to write to in the country I was learning to love.
image source: photobucket
We exchanged so many letters over the years, many I still have. In time, we also started to exchange gifts, I was so happy whenever I received anything. It was all the way from another country, you know! We talked about the differences between our lives, and how we lived in each of our respectable countries. So much is the same, but yet so different. I was always so interested to hear more and more. We wrote letters for many years. Its amazing how much you can get to know someone just with just writing letters. I had nothing but time back then, and I would spend a good few hours just writing and writing. Zoé wrote English so beautifully, and so we have always corresponded in English. Yeah, that whole French language just wasn't working out for me. After several years of just writing, we started calling each other on the phone. A person I knew so greatly but yet I had never spoken to her. It was great to put a voice to this person who was becoming one of my closet friends. I remember how great it felt to share our first laugh together. In the beginning the calls were sparse, however we did what we could in that 9 hour time difference. We practically grew up together, we went through boyfriends together, losing family members together, getting married, and it was just as real as if having her life next door to me. Over the years our sparse phone calls have become more common and in more times then not, we talk weekly now. We have been friends for 18 years now. 18 years. WoW. To this day, she has and always will be one of my best friends, and part of my family. She is amazing. She calls me every birthday, every Christmas and many times just because. We text, we email, we call, we write but not as often as before. We are both much too busy to continue all that writing. We have talked many times over about that day we will meet. We have made plans but only for them to not work out, between the cost of airfare to our work schedules, it just wasn't meant to be yet. It will happen though. We are on a 2 year plan. By the time 20 years hit, I will have landed in that country I have always loved from a far. Zoé’s Mom is also so very lovely, and retired, and so graciously offered to show me around. I have my very own tour guide waiting for me. I'm so, so excited for this day to happen.
And for you Zoé, when you read this. … Thank you for all the many years of friendship, in which it hasn’t always been easy since we are worlds apart, but your unconditional love and friendship has meant the world to me. Our friendship is unique and so very special. You are one of my favorite people, love ya!
I must admit I have had reservations in the past about travelling outside of our lovely America. Remember, in the beginning of all this I told you I was different. Well, I am so very different. Some people may have different words for it, but I just like to call it unique. I'm very particular in my food. Yes, food. I'm worried that in France I wont be able to find just regular lettuce, you know iceberg lettuce. I'm not a meat eater, and I eat alot of salads but I don't like all those fancy leafy greens. Ok, a little green is ok with alot of iceberg. What if I cant find it, what ever will I eat? I love cheese, but only cheddar. France has over 300 cheeses, but heard its hard to find cheddar. What ever will I do? I know there are McDonalds over there, so I know I can get some fries, but come on people. Going to a country with what little of the language I know, how ever can I trust that there is no escargot in my salad? I'm afraid, but I'm putting that all aside and just going with it. Yes, you can quit laughing at me now, but this is real for me. And did I mention I cant eat with regular silverware? I have to have plastic, but that's for another post. And I'm kinda worried I'm not going to like all the dogs in the cafes, but I think I will live. I am unique, and I will keep telling myself that over and over no matter what you say.
I must say I have been rest assured some, so what you read above has been toned down. I have found a few American bloggers who are now living in France, and with the stories they share, I can see how it can be do able now. If you want a good laugh on how Americans are transitioning into the French life, you must visit their sites. They have kept me up hours and hours past my bedtime .. and keeping my dream alive of living in France in one day. A girl can dream right? Thank you Sara in Le Petit Village, La Mom, and An American Mom in Paris.