It’s weird to be back. I just returned from my summer adventure – a little over a month spent in Northern France, floundering along with my baby French. Actually, I did have my best conversations with kids. They got me. We spoke in the same simple tenses with the same limited vocabulary.
Compiègne is probably the most friendly town I have ever been in. As students, we are supposed to received a kit of basic dishes to use in our apartments. Unfortunately, these kits never materialized. This did not stop me from purchasing some lovely pots of crème du chocolat at the market. Quelle horreur! It didn’t hit me until after I’d already paid that I was going to have to slurp this stuff up from the jar. I asked the shopkeeper if he he sold spoons, but he didn’t. When he saw my sad face, he went up to his apartment (attached to the store) and brought me down one of his own spoons. He wouldn’t let me pay for it.
While I was in another store (pricing out plastic cutlery, 3 euros per box of only one kind – forks, knives, or spoons) a women came up to me and asked me what size shoe I wore. I didn’t know my European size, but she handed me a box with a pair of black, wedge sandals and said I should try them on. I did, too, right there in the store. It felt a little weird, but maybe that’s a French thing? The shoes fit, and she told me I could have them. Her Mother bought them for her, but they were the wrong size. She didn’t want to throw them out, but she didn’t want to hurt her Mother’s feelings by telling her she’d bought the wrong size. I suppose the Goodwill hasn’t made it to France yet?
Finally, a sweet boy was drawing pictures with a friend. I was pretending to read, but secretly eavesdropping on their conversation. This is less creepy than it sounds. I needed to pick this language up somehow! Before they left, one of the boys handed me his picture. I think it’s supposed to be me. I had him sign it, and I told him he was a “true artist.” Perhaps this was a mild exaggeration. You decide 🙂