Joy in the Everyday

Now that going to the grocery store no longer feels like an adventure (except when I make my grocery list in English then realize I don’t know the French word for some of my ingredients…), I’m settling into the every day reality of living in France. And it feels… well, like life. Most of the time relatively good but uneventful. Sometimes exciting, sometimes disappointing. But that’s what life’s supposed to be, right? I recently rediscovered a quote one of my friends introduced me to a few years ago.

Today I live in the quiet, joyous expectation of good. –Ernest Holman

This is how I strive to live. Quietly, joyously anticipating good. And I’ve found that good is so easy to find when you’re expecting it. So I want to share some of my joyous moments that have been part of my life lately.

  1. A class field trip meant my usual English Club ended up just being me and one seventh grade girl. She moved here recently from Senegal and she’s learning French. It’s her fourth language. That makes English language number 5 for her. We spoke in French for a long time before I finally asked, “What do you know how to say in English?” She parroted back, “Hello… How are you…” and then in French said, “Je sais compter 1-10” (I know how to count to 10). I hadn’t realized that she wasn’t shy sitting in the back… she was thrown into an English class expecting to pick it up without ever having learned the basics. So today I scrapped our winter crossword and snowflake activity and we practiced counting to 20. She told me all about Senegal and I showed her pictures from my summer in Togo. When the bell rang at the end of the hour, she looked at me and said, “Déjà?!” (already?!) She was such a joy to spend time with.
  2. An au pair friend of mine texted me and asked if I wanted to meet for coffee yesterday afternoon. I was standing in the hopelessly long line at the CAF office hoping to get clarification on some paperwork. I saw her text and gave up on my errand and instead sat at a café speaking English with an American friend.
  3. I have now twice mistaken soap for lotion because of poor translations. I bought some lotion and lazily only read the English which said “Cleansing Cream.” Sounds like lotion, right? I put some on and thought, “huh. That’s a weird consistency…” Then I glanced at the French label and realized it was cleansing soap. To make it worse, a friend gave me some face moisturizer she wasn’t going to use and I did the EXACT same thing. Weird consistency… dang it. This is soap. I can’t help laughing at that.
  4. I spent Thanksgiving with the coolest group of international friends. We had all of the Thanksgiving standards (including a bowl of candy corn on the table!) and lots of foreign treats too (chestnut soup from Austria, an egg/ tortilla/ potato dish from Spain, etc.). We went around the table and said what we’re thankful for and we all expressed a similar sentiment of finding home away from home and being thankful to feel loved and appreciated in a new place.
  5. I don’t make egregious errors in French all that often, but every so often, I do and I think they’re absolutely hilarious. Last week, I was talking to someone and in the midst of saying, “I wore my glasses today because I’m lazy” (paresseuse), I misspoke and accidentally called myself an electric drill (perceuse). He looked incredibly confused and I immediately realized I’d made a mistake. This may or may not have happened on a first date… but it just helped break the ice (and he asked me on a second one so I guess it wasn’t THAT bad).

 

So there we go. Life is so much fun. I love laughing with (at?) my students and I even have made a habit of finishing my entire meal at lunch. I’ll be française in no time.

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