Some days I experience what I call a ‘French block’. My mind cannot, or more accurately, does not want to think, speak nor understand anything French. It feels too much like starting over, like so many years ago when I moved to NYC and knew but one soul amidst a sea of strangers. I was young and impressionable then, and now? Still rather young and slightly less impressionable, but filled with the same eagerness to know and see and learn and meet. But here in Paris it’s much different. Most of all due to my poor comprehension of the French language and certain cultural aspects I have not yet decided whether suit me (as if I had a choice). Within this particular sea, the faces don’t smile as easily when you glance in their direction, and when looking lost or desperate, rarely will a local offer a gesture of compassion. It is those who have shared this experience, those with empathy (most often possessing a foreign passport), that help me to understand that it is in fact time and a rather liberal amount of humility that will ease this transition and allow the culture to envelop me.
I might add that a good glass of Saint Emilion in the late afternoon sun at the local bistro, can surely serve as a lifeboat.