I was never the girl who dreamed of Paris. I was more the girl who dreamed of making an unsung martyr of myself in some remote, uncivilized village deep in the center of Africa – fighting boldly for justice in a male dominant society with an orphan on my back and a ledger in my hand. I thought girls who wanted to learn French were frivolous and silly, wanting nothing more out of life than to spend just one night behind a dark, handsome Frenchman on a polished motorbike, flying through Paris in the cool nighttime air, watching the Eiffel Tower glisten in the moon. I told myself I’d never be that silly.
Enter Ima Sourpot (name changed for my own protection). Possibly the most crotchety woman on the face of the earth. Life circumstances were such that I ended up having to spend a lot of time with Ms. Sourpot, and we became friends of our own right, but let me tell you, this woman is infamous for being a grouch. She can find the negative in any situation.
Then one day Ima told me she was going to Paris. She started learning French. She started planning what sights she absolutely had to see while she was there. She started dreaming of the pastries, and the cheeses, and the wines. Every time she talked about it, her eyes would light up. And she couldn’t stop talking about it. I started dreaming with her, imagining the bistros and cafés she’d enjoy, envisioning the lovely, narrow streets she’d get to stroll.
Paris changed Ima. It brought her something she had been missing. She came home with stories of Versailles and the Louvre, of the art and the food. She pridefully pronounced the foreign names of where she’d been. I loved to hear her talk about it. I loved to see the fervor that became her when she did. Through Ima, Paris became an ideal for me. It became the symbol of experiencing life in all of its richness. A place where tired souls can learn to find their joy again.
It is now a mini goal of mine to someday go to Paris. I do not foresee a trip happening any time in the near future, so I have decided to do the only logical thing I can at this time to prepare, and to keep the dream alive:
I have begun to learn French.