Lately, I know I have been here in France a bit too long, especially when all my dreams are starting to conduct themselves in a language I comprehend better than I speak. What is even more odd is that some of the words in my dreams I can't even make out. I know what they mean... somewhere, deep within the recess of my subconscious but they don't make sense to me at the time. I wonder, is this how life is sometimes? Do we just wander through and not understand everything that happens to us even though the meaning is out there, just beyond our reach; like almost sitting on the tips of our tongue?
Yeah, I know this is a pretty weird post coming from me. I have another interview/book blurb planned for another author later this week and I am working my ever loving ass off on book promotion and getting my work out there. The problem is that I feel like that is all I ever do, even while I have been to this beautiful country on vacation. It hasn't been much of a vacation as I work more often than not but I have enjoyed myself tremendously.
We could learn a thing or two from the French, as Americans. Like tact and decent manners. I have yet to be invited to a French friend's house without there being an abundance of food and drink. I am always offered something to eat and drink, regardless where I go. The French love their food (why shouldn't they? It isn't hormone-filled, tasteless goop with too much sodium, salt, sugar and excessive spiciness to hide the lack of flavor that has become standard American fare). I have had some of the best meals of my life since I have been here (and most of them cooked by friends, not in fancy restaurants where the fare has been just okay; adequate but nothing to write home about). Did I mention most of my French male friends can cook better than me and they know how to whip up delicious foods from such simple ingredients?
I could definitely imagine myself living here, becoming immersed in the beauty that is the French language, living in small flat all done up courtesy of their home stores (and a little help from IKEA), raising my children in a country that still respects and values culture and the art of good conversation. That is not to say the French take it easy. Most of my friends are over-the-top stressed (same as in the States), the economy over here is fairing no better than in States (regardless of what GDP growth and all this crap tells us differently). My French friends are just as unsure about their future as your typical American and don't get them started on the Immigration Debate (same shit, different story but at the end of the day, it's all the same). There are some problems in la belle France and I would be the last to spin some sugary-sweet tale of a perfect country that is crime-free and immaculately beautiful (well, it would be if the government could do something about all the awful graffitti and although not crime free, you'd be hard-pressed to be involved in a car-jacking or have someone stick a gun in your face). It's more petty crimes than anything (purse and mobile-phone snatching, pick-pocketing and the like). The weather has been shit for the past weeks with a sunny day squeezed in here and there for good measure.
Regardless of this, I will never regret coming here. I have some of the most genuine people in my life right here in this fine country. Yes, I know, you don't make friends with Frenchies overnight but if they genuinely like you, they like you and you have a friend for life. They don't smile and pretend to be your friend; they are pretty up front about whether or not they like you and I love their honesty. I also love their accents (which they think are annoying). I am just grateful someone is willing to butcher English as opposed to allowing me to butcher French (a much bigger sin I should add as to speak French is an art form itself).
So, if any of you are dying to come to Europe or have some free time on your hands (and a few dollars to spare... well, more than a few as the euro is kicking major dollar ass at the moment) then might I suggest France? No, they don't smell, they shave, they dress the same as the rest of us (for the most part), they tend to be thinner (though there are some chunky French people, you don't see the excessive rolls in America that are just a fact of life in our very obese country), they drink and smoke too much but they are infinitely human and to me, that is the greatest asset of all. I don't want to be around an enlightened culture who take themselves too seriously and French people certainly don't (although they are perfectionists for the most part).
Love from Versailles to all of you (no, it's not just that damned chateau here; it is a thriving, vibrant and walkable suburb filled with over 100,000 living souls). xoxo