Monday, October 5, 2015

Once Upon a Time

I often wonder where my "story" really begins.  Some people might argue that this was my destiny, planned out long before I was born.  Others joke and say that my journey began the moment that my parents named me "Claire" even though there isn't a single drop of French blood that runs through my veins.  Sometimes I like to think that it started when I was in the ninth grade and attended my first High School Open House.  I often think back to that night because that was the night that I decided to study French.  Now, I wish I could tell you that I chose the French language for some incredible reason, but the truth is I didn't.  I never grew up dreaming about Paris, I never doodled the Eiffel Tower on my notebooks or wanted to be a fashion designer.  The only reason I chose to study French was because all my friends signed up for Spanish and my family members wanted me to take German.  Therefore, the only logical decision in my mind was to take French.  I think I remember this moment so vividly because that one decision has shaped the course of my life and led me to where I am today.  I am a French speaker, a former French teacher, a Francophile, and soon to be permanent resident of France.  Sometimes when I close my eyes I can hardly believe where I have ended up today.  However, for all practical purposes I will say that the real story starts the first moment I laid eyes on Florian...

Here is an excerpt from an old blog describing the events of October 23, 2011

"Tu as des yeux comme des noisettes."

Vineyards in Bordeaux      

You have eyes like hazelnuts.  That's what the cute French sommelier whispered to me on that crisp fall night in Bordeaux.  Now, I'm sure it sounds a bit dramatic, and maybe it was... but if there is one thing that life in France has taught me it's to stop analyzing things so much and just live in the moment.  So, there I was, sitting at a cozy wine bar in Bordeaux with one of my best friends seated to my left and a handsome Frenchman seated to my right.  On the table in front of us were 2 bottles of wine from Bordeaux and a perfect assortment of meats and cheeses to accompany the wine that only the French could put together.  And in that moment, the only thought that seemed to race through my mind was: pinch me, I must be dreaming.  

Our Wine Tasting

The truth of the matter though was that I was not dreaming and moments like this, moments of pure simplicity and pleasure, are not a foreign concept for the French.  When BreAnna and I first planned out our trip for the Toussaint (All Saint's Day) we decided to try to fit in as many places in southern France as we could, but after a short while we started to discover that maybe it wasn't about how many places in France we could see on one trip, but how well we could enjoy them.  This thought led us to the decision to take a more relaxing vacation touring only Bordeaux and some castles in the Loire.  And it was a great decision.

Visiting the Wine Cellar

More is better.  That's the cliché about Americans and maybe it's true.  We rush through life trying to accomplish as much as we can and rarely stop to appreciate the beauty of life around us.  Instead of taking 2 hours to eat a meal we take 30 minutes and instead of buying the expensive bottle of wine and savoring it we buy the cheapest one and guzzle it down without a thought.  That's who we are and that's how we life our lives.  But as I sat at that wine bar in Bordeaux, sipping wine and watching the hours pass, I began to see things around me in a new light.  Instead of inhaling my food like I normally do I slowed down and savored each bite, instead of being irritated when the waitress seemed to "forget" our table existed I embraced the uninterrupted moments, and instead of simply just drinking my glasses of wine I took a few moments to look at them, to smell them, and notice how each sip left a tingling sensation on my taste buds.  A night of pure relaxation and pleasure.  If there's one thing that the French have right (okay, two counting the wine) it's that they certainly have mastered the joie de vivre, the joy of living.  And for that I can appreciate them.

Lessons from the Sommelier

      Years down the road when I think back to my year in France that night in Bordeaux will be something that I will keep with me forever.  A treasured memory.  Not because I saw some great site or monument, but because that was the night that I truly experienced life in France.

      And as for the sommelier, well, we exchanged contact information in the hope that maybe one day we'll meet again.


  1. I remember you telling me this story in my tiny German apartment (And I remember thinking, "it will never last," lol)! What a difference a few years can make :) I can't wait to see what your next adventures entail!!

    1. I know! And now just four short years later we are all married to amazing men and starting the next chapters of our lives. Here's to us!