A black-and-white photo for a change and some frissons in today's edition. (Picture taken five years ago in Brignoles, during a moody balade with Mama Jules, who was trying to wean herself off cigarettes (or Nicorette, or both...). Me: Look, Mom! A bookstore. Mom: Grrrrh! The bookworm could not be distracted, not even by books or art supplies!)
le frisson (frih-sohn)
: shiver; shudder, thrill
Je me demande si, comme moi, elle ressent des frissons en écoutant cette chanson?
I wonder if, like me, she has chills listening to this song.
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
As I drive my daughter to her friend's to stay the week, I try to put aside any feelings of sadness or annoyance or frustration. Just what am I feeling as she sits beside me--dans un monde à elle?
At once plugged in and tuned out, she is hearing the music but not hearing me. Not that I am talking.
No, I don't want to start nagging or manipulating. I don't want to say "Why do you put on earphones when you get into the car?" (nag) or "If only you would make an effort..."
Je prends sur moi. I cannot control my daughter but I can control my feelings. As I let go, I look over to the young lady beside me.
Her wheat-colored hair is now shoulder-length. I notice how the new cut, a "carré", makes her look 18... four years older. She is not wearing too much make-up. She does look lovely. She is a lovely young lady—even with earphones and wires sticking out of her ears.
I look past Jackie to the fluorescent yellow field that is speeding beside her, beyond the window. The colza is in bloom!
"Look!" I say, unable to control excitement.
"Quoi?" comes the deadpan response.
Too late. We've driven past the magnificent blooming field. Tant pis.
"Qu'est-ce que c'est?"
I feel my daughter's irritation and my own prickly feelings are back.
It is a two-hour drive from our house in the Vaucluse to the friend's house in the Le Gard. I am borrowing my husband's car so that I can "profiter" from the GPS... only the onboard navigator does not seem to be working. Instead of a bold line indicating the chemin, there are many bold lines indicating many chemins. I begin to voice my frustration.
"Follow the road signs," Jackie suggests.
I know her down-to-earth suggestion is a reasonable one, but I've suddenly lost faith in non-technology.
My daughter takes off her earphones and connects her iPod to the stereo unit (how she's found the connection is beyond me. I still can't figure out where the station dial is—make that the button. Everything seems to have a button in this pushy new world).
"Ça t'embête?" Jackie asks. No, it doesn't bother me that she wants to connect her mp to the dashboard. At least we can listen to the music together—the added advantage being that I now have a live navigator:
"Follow that sign..." Jackie says.
"Straight on now..."
"Merci, ma fille!"I say, in my best impression of John Wayne-comes-to-France: May-YER-see-maah-FEE-YUH!
My girl laughs and the life inside of her is my joy... for a precious second. She returns to her technical world, lavishing all of her attention to one of two metal-and-wire devices: her iPod or her mobile phone, where she is busy texting friends.
When the song "One Cup of Coffee" comes on, I enjoy belting it out:
One cup of coffee, then I'll go...
One cup of coffee, then I'll go...
My daughter perks up. "Do you like Reggae?"
"It's not my favorite, but I don't mind a little of it."
Jackie laughs, only, once again our connection short-circuits... one of us is back to texting, the other is looking out the window wondering what this world is coming to? And where, amidst all of these wires and wireless connections will we meet again, my daughter and I?
"Tiens, you'll like this one," Jackie offers, unexpectedly.
As I hear the familiar lyrics, goosebumps begin to rise... Suddenly my skin is electrified. The first four words are delivered so slowly—yet my emotions burst open:
I would only be in your way
So I'll go, but I know
I'll think of you every step of the way
I begin to wonder what the French word is for these goosebumps and if my daughter is feeling them too? Does she understand the words, wishes that I wish for her?
I hope life treats you kind
And I hope you have all you've dreamed of
And I wish to you joy and happiness
But above all this I wish you love
"Là, elle va se gaver." Jackie warns me that Whitney is about to drive it home...
And I will always love you
I will always love you
Jackie and I listen to eternal truth as delivered by the late Whitney Houston, whose words transcend the virtual or technical world, they are on our skin and somewhere beneath, or within.
I have an urge to know whether or not my daughter is feeling these truths, as I am feeling them (I've got to know: does she feel goosebumps too?), only I do not want to bore her with sentimentality. I've got to let go, to live and let live—to let the generation gap do its thing as it did for the generations before me. We are just an ordinary mother and daughter facing an ordinary gap...
...and yet, something extraordinary is about to bridge that gap.... a universal truth—one that it is encapsulated inside each and every goosebump, or frisson. Only in order for her to know that truth—she's got to feel it.
And just as grace would have it, I am spared of questioning my daughter... for her next remark is proof that Love is the universal truth governing every lively cell in her body:
"Maman," Jackie looks over at me."Est-ce que tu as des frissons aussi?"
When she was little... and I was big in her eyes.
dans un monde à elle = in a world of her own
je prends sur moi = I'll get a grip on myself
un carré = blunt cut, a bob
quoi? = what?
tant pis = too bad
qu'est-ce que c'est = what's is it
profiter = to take advantage of
le chemin = road, way
ça t'embête? = does this bother you?
merci ma fille = thanks my girl
tiens = here
là, elle va se gaver = there she's going to give it her all
Est-ce que tu as des frissons aussi? = Mom, do you have goosebumps too?
If you would like to visit us here at our vineyard, simply reserve your seat beneath the Mulberry tree! Leave a message in the comments box and I'll get back to you. Here are the next meet-ups:
Tuesday, 17th at 4 pm
Tuesday, 24th at 4 pm
Thursday, 26th, at 4 pm (with special guests Gus Ellison and the lovely Paulette)
Tuesday the 1st at 4pm
(more meet-ups to come. Stay tuned!)
Meantime, you might enjoy this reader-submitted guide:
You'll also enjoy Lynne Alderson's blog - Aixcentric.
- Follow these French language updates on Twitter
- Learn French easily in context: read Kristin's vocabulary-rich memoirs: Words in a French Life and Blossoming in Provence
Please forward this edition to a friend who loves France!
Thank you for considering a contribution today!
Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal, for the past 18 years. If you regularly enjoy this website and would like to keep it going, please know your donation towards this effort makes all the difference! No matter the weather, on good days or bad, I am commited to sharing a sunny update with you, one you can look forward to. I hope it fuels your dreams of coming to France, while expanding your French vocabulary. A contribution by check or via PayPal (links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!
♥ Or click here to send the amount of your choice
To purchase our memoir, THE LOST GARDENS click here.