Yesterday was a good day. I mean the day part was sort of average to be honest but the evening was quite a success. Work is quite slow right now and I hate it. I really like being busy and almost overloaded. I function much better this way. My high season is now over and prepping for next season is going to start but I am in bit of a lull. However, my day was spiced up by my first meeting with my new French tutor.
Part of the reason of moving to France of course was to learn French. Sadly, that dream was squashed when I only spoke English at my job and with my friends, as well as attended an absolutely awful (although disgustingly expensive) school. However, getting a job with a French company and moving to Paris has truly opened some doors. I do get practice at work as half my job is in French and all my colleagues prefer to speak in French all day. But I needed someone to sit with me and force me to speak French since it is always a bit to easy to revert to English when it gets too tough to think in another language. My dear friend Jess recommended a guy she went to while living in France and I am so thankful.
I was so scared to meet with him because unlike all other aspects of my life, I am not confident when it comes to French. I am slowly gaining confidence and realizing I know way more than I think but I still quiver when I know French is going to have to exit my mouth. However, all fear was disbanded as I sat in the little Starbucks in the gay area of Paris talking to my new, personal professeur de français. The gray haired Frenchman made no delay and laid into the French immediately… weird thing was, so did I without hesitation. I am not sure if it was because I had mentally prepared myself all day or if when put in a ‘French-only’ situation I can do just fine. Of course, I also realized I do need to make loads of progress. The language is so beautiful but just like the French themselves–complex and filled with intricacies.
I met this fellow American (or was he Canadian, I don’t know since he had some issues declaring his homeland) while I was in Madrid. He too had lived in France the past year. Hearing that made me immediately want to connect with him and share experiences; however, he did not have the same agenda. Sadly, the conversation turned into an immature competition of who is more awesome. Quite a one-sided competition I would have because I had nothing to prove. Anyways, on one of his rants of self praise, he asked me how long it took me to learn French. I in turn asked him if he had studied the language before moving to France, and he had not. I looked at him and said “I am nowhere near fluent and learn more everyday. I assume it will be this way for years to come.”
To me, I found his question, as well as his attitude towards the subject, quite an insult. This 20 something year old believed he had mastered the French language in a year. HA! The insult being that this language is not something one can take a speed course in. Like I said, it is a magnificent, gorgeous langauge. I will give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that he has learned a lot and his French is good enough to speak often with those around him (I of course have no proof of this but hey, I will give it to him). However, how can you be so ignorant to think you are now just like a true Frenchmen who has spoken this language since birth? It is a learning process. And people who have even lived her 20 years I am sure still learn things.
Wow. I just had a rant there. Apologies.
The purpose of this post was to talk about an epiphany I had during my lesson. One of the questions my prof asked me was what I like in Paris? As soon as the words left his lips, my head was filled with beautiful images, unforgettable memories, and of course, wonderful tastes. I found it hard to put into words why I love Paris so much.
I am not really sure it is one thing. I don’t know if it the windows with intricate iron railing overflowing with flower boxes. Or the flaky perfection in the explosion of taste I get every time I bite into a pain au chocolat. Or the way parks, gardens, café terraces, and the banks of the Seine are lined with Parisians picnicking the minute the sun finally shows it face. It might be the way French woman have this certain aura around them and their slender bodies are covered in coordinated perfection from head to toe. Or perhaps the grand boulevards and squares juxtaposed with the little cobble stone streets and hidden gardens. Maybe it is the way the language can truly explain exactly what you are feeling in a way that seems almost poetic. It could be the challenge I am faced with everyday living here or the fact I know, even with living here 10 years, it would be tough to see all that the City of Lights has to offer.
I do not know. What I do know is j’adore Paris. It has become a part of me and it will always be a part of me. It has changed me. It has loved me and challenged me and fought me and cared for me. I don’t know how much longer I will be here, but I know that my time here will be unmatched.
“There is never any ending to Paris, and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. Paris was always worth it, and you received return for whatever you brought to it…” -Ernest Hemingway