It only takes me two days…
I had to completely restart this entry because I was writing in French. Pretty much accidentally. I thought the first week was going to be very difficult, that it would take me almost a month to re-acclimate myself to speaking the language without internal translation. Oh, how wrong I was on that point! Today around lunchtime, I realized that although the span of my vocabulary is about as immense as the shell of a tortoise (and about as curved…words and phrases keep slipping out of my grasp), I had already begun thinking in French. When I studied in Paris two years ago, it took over two months for that to happen, and even then it took effort. I had been out with some of the choir members after a rehearsal, and I found myself chatting normally in French as I would in English, and I praised it as a miracle. And now, it’s been two days. Granted, I’ve been surrounded by more French, and I’ve had two more years of speaking, but it’s also been two years since I’ve spoken regularly. Yvan told me tonight that I already have a much much better accent and fluidity of speech than I did three weeks ago when babysitting in Chicago. And it’s very true that now I’m less afraid of making mistakes when I speak, and thus less afraid of speaking. I ask more questions and I’m not afraid to do so. But still. Two days. I play games with the kids in French (although Juju still likes “roundanroun!”, so much so that I had to write out the words so his parents don’t forget), and I spent almost two hours just chatting with Yvan et Lydie after the kids went to bed. They gave me a little advice on handling the red tape of France and the potential accents of the people who live in the little village, and then we just kicked back and talked about the cinema, living in big cities, different fruits and foods, trying to find — and keep — a job in this economy, translation, anything. C’était facile. I’m allowed to be proud of myself, right?
Ah, funny story: I had called a bed & breakfast type place to reserve a few nights in the village until I find a place to live, talked to a very nice monsieur, and told him I’d be arriving tomorrow night. All good. So then around 7pm, the phone rings, and it’s for me. Wait, what? Who knows that I’m here? Who knows the phone number here? Who knows all of the above at the same time? It was the man at the bed & breakfast. He thought I was arriving tonight, and called the number from the caller ID just to make sure. Val was funny — he comes up to me with this look of “I have absolutely no idea what’s going on” on his face, and says “He’s looking for someone in L’argentière.” C’est bien moi, mais…quoi??
I’m not sure I want to move on to the little village of 2000 people. I like living here, in the nautically-themed bedroom of the oldest, even in spite of the rock-hard mattress (I swear I’ve gotten bruises on my ribcage from sleeping), giving Lydie someone over the age of 18 to talk to, helping to take care of the kids, even if she says I don’t need to, playing piano for them and being called “le star,” teaching them little English diddies, walking through the zoo in the park in the rain and watching the very happy elephants. I like being somewhere familiar. I know Lyon isn’t exactly familiar, but I’m treated like I’m family. Same root. It works.
But check in with me again on Monday. Chances are I’ll be all settled in to my little village lifestyle.
Well, I’ll either turn into Belle, or I’ll go crazy.