I've been a bit of a Grumpy Bird these past few days but I've also been having some moments of pure pleasure, reminding me how much I love my life in France.
For instance, when my son and I go back and forth to school we stop and talk about the things we see along the way. And since he's been there for three years now, I know the other parents and the administrators well. Of course, it took three years for most people to become friendly with me, but I get it: French people take longer to become friends. [*This statement touches upon deep cultural roots, which I won't get into now, but if you'd like to read more I recommend this excellent book given to me by my step-father when I moved here: The Discovery of France.]
As a result, I now am invited to coffees, "sporty walks" (march sportif) as I call them and rendezvous in the parks with our children. It's really nice and also a good opportunity for me to practice my French, which I always need!
There is also, of course, the daily living. It's true many people still shop in the small commerçants to get their fruit, bread and meat. I was slightly terrified to enter these shops for a long time because I knew my French wasn't very good and I really didn't like the idea of going in and grunting. I wanted to full experience. Now I can safely and happily go into these shops and request what I'd like, sometimes even venturing into light pleasantries with the shop-people. I've even ventured into my fromagerie (cheese shop) and asked for recommendations on cheeses.
I love the quaintness of life here; the slower, more personal approach. (Of course, as I've posted before, there are days where it can push my buttons!)
And I ADORE, no matter what kind of mood I'm in, the old buildings. I've always appreciated Old. I love old buildings, older cars, older fashions, by-gone eras, older styles and manners, older ways of doing things, older people. So being in the epi-center of Old is very comfortable for me.
I love seeing how my son seems to have adopted this appreciation for old things. He notices and talks about when things are "old fashioned," as he says. And he seems to be drawn to those things. Heck, he likes to wear bow-ties! Of course, he's a modern little boy too and loves race cars and all modern toys too.
Normally I don't get down about the crummy weather that can be prevalent for most of the year in Paris. (Although this year seems to be affecting me more than others.) Sun, rain, cold, windy, gray...it's all okay. As long as I'm properly dressed for the temperature and elements I'm fine. I appreciate four seasons. I know we need gray, rainy days to help the crops and flowers grow. (Am thinking of a song right now....)
I love the efficiency of "blue card readers": the incredibly efficient payment system in nearly every shop in France. I wonder why the USA is so backwards and hasn't adopted this yet. And I love the digital clock-timers at the bus and metro stations telling you how long before the next bus/train. (Way ahead of NYC with this, which just adopted it a few years ago.)
I could go on... but that's it for this moment! Vive La France!