It’s only funny after the Fact.
For the past six months we have been dreaming, planning, praying, cleaning closets, and trying to make something happen. Anything. We had hoped our book would be sold and ready to go to publication. We had planned on Jean's dissertation being done in the early spring. We had planned that our house would be sold by early April. And we definitely counted on the springtime in Provence to be sunny.
If there is anything we have learned here this past 6 months, it is the fact that you have no control over timing and you do indeed have to be very careful what you wish for.
The Good and the Bad of being fluent in a language came to me this morning after a rough evening at an English book club. Living in a country where I only speak a “functional French” and that is still limited to mostly face to face conversations versus the telephone, I’ve actually been secluded from having to deal with conflict, anger, other people’s “pain body” as Eckhart Tolle calls it or ordinary frustrations. I smile on greeting, say “Bonjour,” and at times enter into a conversation about scheduling a play date, a pickup or asking a question. My comfort level with deep, fluent conversations in French is still limited to my hour with my French teacher who tolerates anything and talks with me about everything, a five minute conversation here or there with a patient person I’ve gotten to know or with friends and neighbors when Jean is there to help fill in the gaps later of what I missed. As a result I never realized how protective being only “functionally French” is. I don’t have the capacity, the language, the speed of speech, or the tenacity to engage in conflict in French. As a result I am quite a peace in the language!
Maybe this is my answer to a more peaceful existence while living here!
April, usually a beautiful month full of sunshine and spring flowers has been turned on it's head and spilling rain everyday, but a few. Nothing worse than a gray rainy April. Another lesson in living in the now as that is all we have.
Living in the present is something that Jean and I have been pursuing for awhile now, but every once in awhile it seems to become even more important. The more we get ahead of ourselves, the more we persist, the more something resists.
Coming down the homestretch of Jean's dissertation he ran into a HUGE - BIG _ GRAND - snafu, in which some data was later submitted by a lab resulting in Jean having to redo all his data analysis. This is the time when emotions have to be put aside and the work just has to be done. Being present in the moment is required. April rain didn't help either!
Getting your hair cut, colored, highlighted and coiffured into an elegant hairdo, at least until you wash it again, is a right of passage for all woman at least every two months. Going to the hairdresser is an event qualifying as a fantastic day’s outing. It starts with coffee before, a scrumptious light lunch after and maybe a little shopping added for extra esprit.
Lately I wasn’t as happy with my hairdresser and the highlighting weave I received. It just was getting a little dull and was not quite up-to-par. I ran into a woman I met at a country lunch, well coiffurred and she told me in whispers, to keep the beauty a close secret close between us, that she was in the village to get her hair colored by a hairdresser who came to your home. “Imagine”, she said, “getting beautiful in the comfort of your own home.” Whether it was the old fashioned way sitting in the coiffuse’s chair, or a more personal way and to save on taxes and overhead, my ears perked up immediately. “Oh, she’s marvelous at color weaves and less expensive as she doesn’t have the cost of a big salon.”
I liked the idea of reducing the excessive costs of my hair appointments that kept escalating and trying the marvelous traveling stylist a-la-domicile. The next thing I knew I was on the phone, stumbling through my California accented French to leave my new best friend, styling guru, Letticia, a message for a rendez-vous.
The next day I received a return phone call and in French we confirmed an appointment for Thursday at 14:30 (2:30 pm) at my house. I repeated the time, fourteen hours thirty, as it is said in French, just to make sure I had the time correct. At promptly 2:30 on-the-dot in she walks with two large cases full of supplies, brushes, hair products, and a brown silk cape. Moving a chair into the bathroom we set up a mini salon and began to discuss once again the color of my highlights. “Blonde et Miel.” (Blonde and Honey). “Oui.” She then went on to explain to me (all in French) that you shouldn’t highlight all the hair but just the top as it gets to blonde and dry at the bottom.
Lyon, a Gallo-Roman settlement situated a few hours from Paris, Avignon and Geneve is often a city one waves to as they pass by the on the train. This time we decided to take a direct line and spend a day and night in the city on the way to Geneva.
The old ville has been renovated as a pedestrian area with fantastic shops and gastronomic restaurants every ten yards. Spending a week there and you still would have more places to eat than time. The Gallo-Roman remains to modern architecture, not forgetting Romanesque and Gothic buildings - Lyon has preserved its ancient districts echoing with memories of its 2000 years of history.are as good as those seen in Paris and the vibrancy of the city is felt throughout.
Zoé’s February vacation quickly descended upon us. Heading off to Geneva we started our journey by visiting some dear friends, Debby and Mark, whom I met in graduate school umpteen years ago Together with our other friends Kathy and Don in Salinas, we used to meet each February for almost ten years to cross country ski at Royal Gorge in Tahoe. Life moves on and we haven’t seen them for quite awhile and Mark is now working at the World Health Organization and Debby is enjoying the life of an expat in Geneva while their young adult girls are starting a life of their own.
Our first stop was the town of Geneva where Zoé immediately spotted the 150 meter water spout shooting into the sky.
“Where does she learn this stuff?” I asked Jean.
“Her comic books, her kid’s newspaper. Who knows? She knows more than we do these days.”
Her interest in not just comic books, but non-fiction and pieces of historic information amaze us. Who would think she would know about this water spout and how tall it was?