30 August 2006
Un pot d’amitié
Last night was wonderful. Now that you’ve taken a second to get your minds out of the gutter, I’ll explain. Last night I had friends over for dinner—MY friends. MY French friends. This is a first.

See, I’ve had friends over for dinner before. Vi and Crispy have been kind enough, in the past, to actually do the transatlantic thing (well, Vi kinda stuck around) and we’ve had wonderful food and great conversation. Vi has even graced us with her presence on a few occasions since making the leap of faith. There endeth the list of MY friends who have been over. Every birthday I’ve celebrated in France, every Thanksgiving, every other get-together, our table has be encircled by Marc’s friends. Granted, many of them I count as friends now, but, well, they’re not Mine mine, you know?

Back in the day, when I taught English to a bunch of unmotivated adults who would rather have been anywhere else, I had one of my students ask me to do a translation for the tourist office in Joinville. I did it, for free, and can honestly say it’s one of the brighter moves I’ve made since moving here. It led to other translation jobs, some of which were paid VERY well. I was eventually asked to join the board at the Office de Tourisme and was immediately voted in as secretary. It’s been my life-line at times.

I am guaranteed one night out a month without screaming monkeys or moody husbands to grate on my nerves. I get to meet all kinds of interesting people, and I have learned so much about where I live now that I feel, at times, like a walking history book, albeit one with a heck of a lot of pages torn out. I get to argue politics, help solve problems and offer an insight to the projects we have in our little town that only an étrangère could. Most importantly, I am appreciated. It’s a lovely feeling.

The person I credit with this opportunity is the husband of the old student, a wonderful guy (who happens to be very nice to look at as well) by the name of Yves. He’s the one who pushed to have me brought on board, and ever since, he’s been like a mentor to me—explaining all the little ins and outs of Joinville, the politics that play in our little group, and, now that I seem to have my feet planted, he’s the one who really works to get me involved in as many projects as I can possibly juggle without loosing that tiny fragile piece of gray matter I call a brain.

Last night, I invited Yves and his family over for dinner. His wife, my former student, is one of those ‘you can’t help but love her’ people, so unlike the stereotypical French women I’m used to. She’s open, she’s warm, she’s friendly. She’s also tiny and fairly pretty, which is reason enough to hate her, but somehow I can’t. I mean, this is the woman who insists I leave my kids at her house when I have shopping to do so I can do so in peace—and also have place in the shopping cart to put something other than one bottle of water and a pack of tampons. She rocks. Now if I could just get her to pay for those groceries…

I digress.

They brought along their daughter, who I have been kind of tutoring in English. This girl is the best student in Joinville—a bit of news I picked up from the group of teachers Marc sings with, so I guess it has to be true, and I've hardly been any help to her at all, other than trying to improve her accent. She’s driven, she’s smart, and she calls Diderot and Hugo and Zola 'light reading'. She also speaks English as well as her mom, or almost, so our Welshman was well provided for.

Everyone showed up fashionably late—Yves had a rough day at the office—and after the tour of the nightmare house where the words “my poor Doris” were uttered more times than I care to think about, we tucked in for an evening of food, wine, and chat. Lots of chat. And lots of wine, too—at least for our Welshman (had a bit of a hangover this morning, poor guy).

I made a fairly good, quasi-American meal of steak, twice-baked potatoes, and asparagus bundles wrapped in bacon (like you do with the green beans Squish—yummy indeed) with an apple crumble for dessert. They didn’t leave much, so I guess it was OK. Marc made us a really good pot of coffee (he does a better job of that than I do, even though we do everything exactly the same…I think) and we talked until after midnight.

We TALKED. My God, it’s been so good to get a big fat dose of Adult Conversation. It’s like a drug. I’ve been on a high all day from it. We talked and talked and talked about everything and nothing. We compared points of view, joked about stereotypes and even at one point, burst into song (well, Mr. Welshy did at least, but he was working on the dregs of the armagnac at that point, so I guess that explains things).

This morning I woke up feeling more at home than ever. Maybe I’m sprouting roots after all.
posted by Doc at 19:25 | Permalink |