How to feel alive in France & chapeau!
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Paris story + How to say "locked out" in French?


View from Jackie's studio in Paris. More about this canyon of French windows you are viewing, in today's missive. And félicitations! to our 17-year-old daughter, who has completed her 4th internship in fashion design.

enfermé dehors

    : locked out

AUDIO FILE: Listen to Jean-Marc read today's example sentence:
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Un jour, en descendant la poubelle, il s'était enfermé dehors en pyjama. (H.-F. Blanc, Combat de fauves au crépuscule)

English Translation:
One day, while taking out the trash, he locked himself out in his pajamas.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristin Espinasse

On fait nos valises

Ten days ago I woke up in a 14 square meter apartment in Paris. Looking out the fenêtre, my eyes scanned gray rooftops and followed the trails of chimney pots which seemed to march towards the horizon. That's when I realized I'd missed the chance to photograph the Sacré-Coeur last night when the sky was dark enough to glimpse a tiny trio of white globes in the left corner of the window! There would not be another chance to do so, not this trip anyway. It was time, now, to pack and leave my daughter's studio.

Lying there in bed, all those internal cobs began to turn as my mind and body quickly became a steamroller of intention: put away the dishes, check under the bed for socks and chouchous, and put out both sets of keys--to leave behind for the owner (this last item caused no end of worry, and you will soon understand why....)

The list was getting louder and louder in my mind, so loud I might wake my daughter with my thoughts.  Slipping out of bed, I quietly made a cup of coffee - and sat down in front of the window, to savor, one last time, the view just beyond.

There, in the canyon of Parisian windows that formed an intimate neighborhood in the 11th arrondissement, I said my goodbyes.

Au revoir to the laundress in the attic apartment--who was always drying her clothes on her window railing. How I feared her comforter would drop... landing on the smoker at the 3rd floor window below....

Adieu, to the botanical goddess, on the 5th floor, whose little window was a perfect green jungle.

Farewell to the brocanteur, on the 4th floor, whose empty wingchair soaked in the sun, there before the window with its flowing rideaux

Did they see me, too? And think Goodbye to the photographer on the 6th, who held her smartphone this way and that as she focused its camera lens on a single spool of thread on her window sill. Oh, but a symbolic spool at that! Did they know my roommate? "The Karate Couturist"-- my daughter--who, like the karate kid, was made to repeat the same handiwork gesture over and over and over, but who would soon realize the wisdom behind such training. Jackie's seamstressing internship had now come to an end, and with it, the vacation I'd enjoyed while accompanying my daughter.

Having said so many silent farewells, it was time to dress up, tidy up, and line up our bags. My arms swept over the shelves--making certain not one item was forgotten. This last point was crucial, for, once we shut the door--leaving our keys inside as instructed--we would not be able to return inside the rental apartment!)

Finally, there we were, my daughter and I, standing in the hallway looking into the memorable shoebox apartment. And then, the anxiously awaited moment, when the door slipped out of my hand and locked forever. I looked over at my daughter and smiled confidently--before my face dropped in horror.

"Oh no! My cell phone!"

"Mom!" Jackie gasped.

"Just kidding," I snorted. Only, as we walked down the hall my legs suddenly froze. "My hat... I left my hat!!! I can't believe it! I had so carefully planned our perfect departure.... checked every corner... turned over the bedspread...said a needed prayer!"

As I stood there lamenting, I could see in my mind's eye my hat, high up on the shelf, where I carefully arranged it each time I returned to the apartment. And I could now see the locked door, separating us!

Jackie tried her best, using reasoning to comfort me. C'est pas grave, Maman. C'est pas grave! But I was inconsolable. I had left behind the hat that my Mom had offered me. There was no replacing the midnight blue hat with the twinkle stars. The magic hat that had recently sparked a lovely conversation with a stranger in Paris.... 

Walking to the elevator, hatless, my head felt as bare as those far-off globes of the Sacré-Coeur.... Only, unlike the church, inside me there was no more hope. That hat was gone forever because I did not and would not have the courage to bother the apartment owner to send it to me in a hat box via post! My only comforting thought was to call the maid and tell her to keep my hat for herself. It would look lovely on her, and match her kind spirit.

Jackie, sensing my despair, looked up. Her eyes were now twinkling like the those stars on my lost hat. "Mom," she said. "I will buy you a new one--here in Paris!"

And that is how the sentimental hat my Mom had gifted me found its only possible replacement:  in the sentimental gesture of my daughter.

(New hat picture coming soon at the end of this post....)

To see a picture of my blue hat...  click here, and scroll to end of the previous story.


on fait nos valises = we pack our bags
la fenêtre = window
chouchou = ponytail holder, scrunchie
le rideau = curtain
c'est pas grave = it isn't important

Provence Dreamin'? Maison des Pelerins, Sablet. A Vacation Rental Dream in the heart of the Côte du Rhone. Click here for pictures.

Picture, of the hat my daughter bought me, taken at a recent wine-tasting. Next wine tasting is here at home, this Thursday July 2nd. Email me if you can make it! (photo by Dede Nagamoto Willis) 

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety