“I’m following the thread. When you listen to your soul, pay attention, who knows where your ‘soles’ may lead.” This was a journal entry of mine from April 2015. I’ve been following the thread of my love for Paris since I first strolled her streets and stood atop the Eiffel Tower: summer, 1985.
What a journey! For various reasons, it took me until October, 2017, to follow my heart’s desire to study french via language school: L’Atelier 9 is where I landed. 3 weeks, 4 hours per day, 5 days a week. Phew! After the first 3 mornings I was ready to quit. My head hurt, my voice didn’t feel like it worked and there were many a morning where my eyes glazed over as our wonderful instructor, Fatiha, posed a question. My internal voice: “Merde, why did I sign up for this?”
Thank goodness for mid morning breaks, where I’d take myself out for strolls in the neighborhood, stop for a noissette (shot of espresso with a touch of warmed milk) at a local café (tip, if you stand at the counter it’s 1.20 euros). After a few mornings the regulars began to chat with me, along with the server, et voilá! they encouraged me to continue. I peaked their curiosity: what on earth was an American doing in Paris studying French? Their personal experience to date being that my fellow citizen’s don’t learn any language beside English, are a bit snobbish and certainly don’t engage with locals at the bar.
As the weeks passed my comprehension and speech improved: eavesdropping as I ate meals solo, sitting at cafés doing homework, stopping for ‘Happy Hour’ to practice ordering and doing homework (super fun by the way), getting my hair colored at a neighborhood salon and speaking French the entire time (the hairdresser was incredibly kind, gracious and spoke slowly so we could chat together), grocery shopping at local markets on Rue des Martyrs (vendors recognizing me and more than willing to help improve my diction and vocabulary), and servers in bistros and restaurants happy to ‘assist’ my diction, correct my verb tenses, and laugh.
At home now, I’m missing my morning walks to school: the architecture, morning light, outside terraces waiting for customers, the whimsy of street signs. My language muscles needing the stretching, pulling and re-working of synapses in my brain, and mid morning French conversation. It’s taking me time to re-enter my life, routine and rhythm in Lake Forest Park, WA. I’m incredibly thankful and grateful for the month I spent in Paris.
“It is not uncommon for me to dream in perfect French.” It’s written on a mug a dear friend gifted me one year. In my dreams my French flows fluidly, my accent is amazing, and everyone understands me. Wow! Curious, I wonder where this thread may lead?
If Paris is tugging at your soul’s/soles thread, then consider joining us for SoulStrolling
email us at : firstname.lastname@example.org for upcoming trips, or if you have a group and would like us to curate a trip for you.