Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I unloaded my well-worn French verb conjugation book out of my bag. My dictionary I happily kissed goodbye to. I shut off any notion of knowing French whatsoever and boarded a plane to New York where I happily spent two New York weeks talking non-stop and joining in every conversation I possibly could for as long as humanly possible.
It. Was. Glorious.

As I boarded the flight back to Paris I got a sinking feeling as the flight attendant made the announcements in French. My babbling bubble burst as I realized I understood nothing. Maybe the plane is on fire. Or the emergency exits are located in aisle 16. Or I should stow my portable electronics. Should I fasten my seatbelt or is the flight six hours and twenty minutes? Who knows? Certainly not me.
Oh yeah.
I put my best foot forward into CDG, took the train back into the city ready to say "HIEEEEEEE, I AM BAAAACK!!!!!!"
(insert cricket sounds)

When I left Paris, she was still open. She offered me baked goods, wine and green markets close by. She was hot and irresistible. But when I returned, my brain rested and ready again to understand, she had left. Closed up shop for the rest of the summer. And the nights have turned an early fall cold like a slap that says "You want New York? Go ahead. I could care less about you cause I am OUTTA HERE."
Paris, wait! Where'd you GOOOOOOO????

And for those who stayed, yes, I am back to explaining myself again with the vocabulary of a three year old. Embarrassed the first night all over again to order my own dinner with authority, disoriented again to lose the entire subject of the conversation and frustrated again not to communicate with a full language at my fingertips.
I feel like the lover who left only to return to an empty house and the housecat asking for an explanation.
Ah Paris, you sneaky girl, you.

But it's OK. I will wait and she will come back to me. In the meantime I will learn some new words for her return and enjoy the quiet of a sunny afternoon in the park.


Kelly said...

You will soon experience your first rentree. Brace yourself. Paris is gone, but she'll indeed be back the first week in September, and these lovely empty streets you're enjoying will be bursting again :)

In case you're wondering where the French went, they're all here in Boston/Cambridge. I'm playing my favorite game where I answer them in French when they ask directions, just like they used to always answer me in English in Paris. hee hee. Payback! (them: Whayer ees Haarvard?, me: Francaise?, them: yaes, me: vous suivez cette rue, tournez a gauche au feu et voila! Harvard!) Amazingly, they get the same deflation I did when someone said "American?" and then talked to me in English!

Anonymous said...

It's "I couldn't care less". If you could care less then you must care somewhat. Sorry, pet peeve

How long have you been in France for? In my experience, with a bit of work you can expect to find yourself getting much better about 9 months in, and for it to really click at around the 15 month mark. So hang in there :)

Kim said...

I'm glad you're back, uh, over there (rather than back here. I've missed your blogs. I loved the video you did and hope to see more.

When I was learning to speak Spanish, and spending time with my future husband in Mexico, I would get headaches and have to lock myself in my room with a book (in English, of course.) Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

Dana - just discovered your brilliantly witty blog. I moved to Lyon 6 months ago and was amazed to find so many similarities - crying in my gym class was one of them! I'm finding the language really hard - you seem to be making lots of progress if you frequently "French it all the time". Do you talk loads of French with FB? Gaah. It's so frustrating. Please can you do Ce Que Tu Dis III?!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I stopped reading at "could care less". BIG pet peeve of mine too.

Otherwise, I enjoy your blog.

Anonymous said...

How long have you been in France for?

Hmmm.....I stopped reading this comment here because you don't end a sentence with a preposition!

KFD said...

Yes, Ce Que Tu Dis III will be posted shortly!

redking said...

Well, ending a sentence with a preposition is a matter of style, or at best an anachronistic rule. "Could care less", on the other hand, introduces a non sequitur.