Thursday, April 2, 2009

The 30-Year Build Up

I have been dreaming about visiting Paris since my first French class in 1978. I loved the language, I loved the food and I loved the politeness. My textbook was full of beautiful pictures of gardens and ornate museums, the very antithesis of Phoenix in the late 70's.

I knew I would visit France, as soon as I possibly could.

In high school, I took more French and then, in junior college I took still more. When I finally gave up being an eternal student and got a full-time job, I thought, "ok, now is the time to start saving for that trip!" But there was always some other thing to spend my pathetic wages on; clothing, my endless pursuit of that perfect head of big 80's hair; gas, junk food and liquor.

Next thing I know, it's the 90's, and I still have not been to France. That decade I spend gaming, drinking and working in the hotel industry. (Big hello to Sue, Clay and Arwyn!)

By 1999, I'd gotten a real, grown up job. I traveled for business, even had a cell phone and company credit card. But I was also paying San Francisco rent. A trip to France was beginning to look like a pipe dream.

When I became engaged to Miles, we dreamed about romantic honeymoon to Paris. We would discover the City of Lights together, hand in hand in wedded bliss. Alas for reality! Our "honeymoon" was a two day trip to San Francisco and a hike through cool, misty hills and a picnic, with cows. (Hi, Ed!)

I've build up an elaborate fantasy of my dream trip to Paris. I'll will be well-dressed and well-groomed. I will not be an Ugly American. I will speak French. I will wallow in the food, the wine, the culture and the art.

I am determined to make a real effort to get foofed on this trip. My hair will be freshly blond, I'm packing some tasteful jewelry, a few items of flattering clothing and some comfy, yet attractive shoes. I intend to wear makeup.

The next hope, not to be identified as an American at 50 paces? I'm not sure this is even possible. But I will avoid all the usual tell-tale signs; fanny packs, clunky athletic shoes and loud, obnoxious comments in English. I'll attempt to speak my rusty French and hope that immersion will help pull the language out of long-term memory.

The wallowing will be un morceau de g√Ęteau. My expectations can be easily met. A good meal that's still hot. Some architecture older than 100 years. A classic painting or two. A simple picnic in a garden, with some sunshine.

Now, for those of you sniggering at my naivete, I do realize that such a long-held, elaborate fantasy will not become reality. I really am trying to temper my expectations, knowing there is no way in hell I'm going to look slim, sleek and sophisticated, throwing about witticisms in flawless French, while sipping wine in a street side cafe.

But a girl's gotta have goals!

1 comment:

  1. hey, i say dream a little dream or two! it's YOUR vacation - YOUR life - YOUR time! live it like you want to - LOVE IT like you're going to! and i also say -- what's wrong with being the eternal student????

    ways to avoid being assumed that you are American:

    * speak another language whenever you can.
    * speak quietly. spend time in utter silence.
    * walk softly, and carry a small dog. (which i first typed as "walk softly and carry a small god. - HAHAHAH.)
    * SMOKE. (ok, maybe not. but it will work.)
    * when you get dressed, don't think twice about wearing something that doesn't "match" in American fashion sense. use color to your benefit.
    * smile less broadly. i'm serious. you can spot us MILES AWAY by our goofy grins. (which is one of the reasons that i do love our peeps!)
    * take time.
    * love as if there's no tomorrow. ; )