Tomber amoreux- To fall in love.
That moment where the carpet is swept from under your feet and you find yourself plunging down the fable driven bottomless pit.
You are falling, but you like it. Failing is not an option here.
You want to be breathless, you crave the attention. Until you realize that this isn’t love, it is infatuation.
French was once an infatuation. Both the history and language elicited butterflies in my stomach.
I daydreamed about the Place de la Concord with its rich, but bloody history and its famous artist, Gabriel. Champs Elysees was going to be my stomping ground soon. And a visit to Shakespeare and Company will infuse the spirit of Gertrude Stein into my work.
Of course, that was more of a Parisian affair, but hey I was young and hopelessly infatuated.
Then there was the language. I was always learning French. 2, 5, and the years kept counting.
Every French major and minor in school were gods and goddesses with the mythical halo above their heads.
“I am learning French,” I would say.
“Tu peux parler francais? C’est magnifique, peut-etre…
Usually the conversations ended there.
I, blushing and shying away from any further linguistic surgery of tongue and brain, avoiding the suture of these words I had learned and tucked away in isolated sections of my brain.
If only I could speak with those who wanted to help. There was J-boo who had spent several semesters in France and Senegal. I too wanted to French travel.
Envy. That set in too.
Can I skip the work, the torture of French headaches, and the embarrassing slip and falls that come with spewing out grammatically incorrect sentences?
But, falling in love made up for the pain.
The infatuation stage had passed and there was a purpose to learning French this time.
1 day in and there was the crying spell in the bathroom. “I can’t do this. I have ruined my life. What have I done?” A tad dramatic, I know but there was a lot at stake.
1 month in and the negatives battled with the positives. Laziness, envy, and self defeat ran parallel with encouragement, practice, and improvement though minute.
1 year in and the conversations were less rigid. The trickle had become a downpour and my French vocabulary experienced the multiplier effect. Was this really happening?
Love made it happen. Love on so many levels, for so many reasons, and from so many sources that bubble over with even more love.
Now, I had a favorite French poem.
Jacques Prevert’s Dejeuner du Matin struck me to the bone with its simplicity.
My cousin introduced me to the discography of Stromae.
Formidable, Ta fete, and Papoutai snuggled in with my other iTunes songs like they were home.
I laughed with Danny Auteil in Mon Meilleur Ami and cried with Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose.
We were becoming one. French and I.
French phrases pop out spontaneously before their English meanings saunter into my conscious.
Thus, reading Jhumpa Lahiri’s piece for The New Yorker on learning a new language deeply resonated.
She has given me new goals and reminded me of half-finished projects.
To write a poem, a flash fiction piece, a short story or a play in my adopted language,
To finish L’Enfant Noir and my first French gift of love, Silberman,
Will be to start again from the beginning
With that sensation of being swept off my feet, my tummy in jitters, feeling heady,
And letting myself spiral down,
Really in love, this time around.