A year ago today, Cal and I took off for Paris. Child #4 was doing his fall semester in France–in Tours, the same place I had lived–and we were going to visit. If it were a year ago, he would still have a month to go.
My love of France and all things French began in kindergarten when the mother of a classmate did a puppet show in French. In third grade, I got to take French in the French Room. When I was ten, my grandmother took me to France.
In seventh grade, I began to study French in earnest. The summers after seventh, eighth, ninth grades, I went to a French camp in Vermont. The summer after my first year of college, I studied French in Quebec City. The next summer I spent three months in France–traveling and studying at the Sorbonne. I majored in French and Linguistics. My first publication was in French in The French Review.
After I graduated from college, I lived in Tours for the 1979-80 academic year, teaching English to French high school students. I went back in 1984, 1988, 1991, and 2005. All the kids have been at least twice.
I’ve taught French and run a French camp and subscribed to French magazines (the idea for the How We Spend Our Days series came from Elle). I still have French francs, listen to French music, occasionally read French books or watch French DVDs. I used to be fluent–no longer.
French was my passion before writing, and bits and pieces of my French connection sneak into my posts from time to time. I’m sad about what prompted me to think of it. I guess it’s because it’s such a part of me that it took until #308 to state this truth.
Beautiful. Thank you for this.
I’m sorry the sadness is so close to your heart.
Thank you, Linda.
Really appreciate your post, and relieved your son was far away. I’ve been working on a post about Paris, but the tragedy is still too raw. I was in my 30’s before I visited Paris for the first time. In recent years I’ve been fortunate to have work connections there, and try to visit for 2-3 weeks once or (when I’m very fortunate) twice a year. My home-base and favorite haunts are all in the 11th, within a 5-10 min. walk of both the Bataclan and Charlie Hebdo offices. It’s almost unimaginable such violence has struck twice in my beautiful neighborhood this year.
Susan, it is unimaginable. And as if it happened in our back yard. Thanks for taking the time to share your connection here. I would like to read your words when they’re ready.
It is comforting to remember happier times in the aftermath of a tragedy. I had similar thoughts about my child: My daughter was working at a stable in France only last month, and I’ve visited Paris many times, including a French exchange at 16. I’m relieved my friends in Paris are safe or as safe as they can be in a world such as this.
With all your ties to England, I’m sure you have many connections to France. So glad to know your daughter is safe, Sarah, as well as your friends in Paris.