I was sure that my next blog would be about prematurity, but I am so heartbroken over the tragic events that unfolded in Paris last night. My heart goes out to the people of France and to their families. I love the United States, but I also feel a special connection to France and wanted to share it here.
When in high school, I was able to participate in a host exchange and it absolutely changed my life! I stayed with a French family in February of '95 and then we hosted in April. I was taking 4th year French and I knew some, but I was super apprehensive about so many things. Go to a foreign country, stay with strangers, and sort of try to speak a language I barely know? Sure! I still talk with the family and we send each other postcards, handwritten letters, and little packages around the holidays. It's been 20 years since I took that first study abroad trip. My French host brother has two girls now, and the youngest and I share a birthday:) I knew more French than I thought I did. I met so many amazing people, saw spectacular monuments and museums, made mistakes and got lost, and ate some of the best real French food ever! I learned a lot about myself and this one particular experience really paved the way for so much more. I am SO glad that I went! It opened up more opportunities and another host exchange to Germany two years later. My German host mother speaks fluent French. When we discovered that we had that in common, peas in a pod! Whenever I didn't know a word or expression in German, I could easily switch to French. When we spoke French, the rest of the family would roll their eyes, but happy their mom had someone with whom to share. It is still very cool!
I was able to take a few more trips to Europe in '97, 99, '00, '03, and '05. For five years, I worked solo at a juice bar (not Jamba), 8-hour shifts and many times on the weekends, I'd open and close for extra cash. I'd work 5 shifts in 3 days from Friday-Sunday nights. It was A LOT, but then I could focus on school and meet the required volunteer hours for the teacher prep program the other days. You talk to a lot of people to make those tips too and they added up. I am left with a permanently swollen left hand for making tasty smoothies. Not proud of my wedding ring size, but I just told my husband that I'd probably need a larger diamond to go along with my large hand! I love that bit in Sleepless in Seattle, when Bill Pullman gives a ring to Meg Ryan and says, "It belonged to my mother. She had incredibly fat fingers." I opted to move out when I was 18, so I got very familiar with paying rent and utilities at a young age. My husband and I look back at that time and how we managed to live, go to school, and travel is kind of amazing! It was study, work, and a little travel. Thank goodness we took those trips when we were younger! Speaking French led to a teaching career and I gained a German minor too. What's another class when you're already carrying 21 units plus volunteering hours, right?
I taught high school French for 10 years including student teaching and two long-term sub assignments. The teaching part never felt like work to me. I was getting paid to do something that I love. I love it because of the experiences, exchanges, the people, the blunders, and the memories I've made. When I taught, I led two student groups to France with the help of a company called EF Tours. I went in March '03 right after the war started. It was very difficult to be a French teacher that year with all of the global politics going on. I was kind of worried about my program and my job. Two years later in June '05, I took 40 people to France and spent two weeks doing a complete circle of the country - Le Grand Tour. I had a WWII vet on my trip who was there at Normandy on D-Day! It was an entire weekend of remembrance as we visited Arromanches, Point du Hoc, and the American Cemetery. He agreed to sit at the front of the bus with a microphone and recount his past, as much as he was willing to share, as we made our way to the beaches. I mean, it was the best teaching moment of my life! I hope that my students will always remember it too.
During this last trip to France, I was carrying D in my tummy. I was about 9 weeks along and I was over the moon with joy! I couldn't partake at the Plou et Fils winery and the tour of the Hennessy factory nearly did me in! The air alone is like 80% proof! The trip and my pregnancy were not a great mix. It was a lot of walking, probably too much, and I regret pushing myself a little at the beginning. D arrived 2 months early that year. While preggo, he had to be listening to vocabulary and verb tenses. I tell him that he naturally has an ear for the French language. I just turned another year older this past week and D will be 10 next weekend. France, in a way, is a part of his story too. Both boys know a little French and I'm always pointing out French things to them. They are getting older and are more interested to hear about mom before kids. I take a huge step back and try to remember what life was like back then. I put some photos together for this post and they can't believe that it's their mom! I know, I look so different. Just one chin too. Where did she go? Notice that I favored the color blue a whole lot:)
Les endroits et les monuments historiques de Paris: le Musee d'Orsay, Les Bateaux-Mouches, La Tour Eiffel, L'Arc de Triomphe, et les jardins de Versailles.
I have never been to Paris, nor can I speak French, but I have always loved the idea of that city and have always wanted to travel there. My heart goes out to everyone in Paris. I love your pictures!
Wow! Look at you Lindsay! you look great in this pics! Les jeunes au trésor! What a wonderful experience for you! it is a lifetime experience and memories. I too remember so well my life in Rome and Cambridge, many many years ago! And seems like another lifetime. And maybe that is why Rome is a very special city for me, like Paris to you. So terrible what happen in Paris, but also in the rest of the world, the bombing and all the terrorism acts going on, also in Africa and Middle East. A prayer for these victims in Paris and all the victims of terrorism and wars around the world.
I have been thinking about you with all that is happening in Paris. It must break your heart! Thank you for sharing your pictures and your travels around the world. I love that it is so much a part of who you and of course your family is as well. I think that you would be the perfect tour guide. Perfect amount of humor and excitement! You will be back there again someday, I know it. Where is your waterpolo picture ;)
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