Pictured: Jean-Marc, who does the sound files for this journal, and our daughter, Jackie, whom today's story is about ♥ (here, she is making "The Lady B" one of the drinks she mixed for Baccarat).
Today's Word: émerveillement
: wonderment, amazement
Audio/Listening: Click the link below to hear all the French words in the following story. Then scroll down to the vocabulary list to check your French comprehension.
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
Last night I lay in bed wondering where my daughter was. I knew Jackie had a few rendezvous in Marseilles...By now she had surely finished lunch at the Callelongue calanque with cousins Clara and Mahé. She must have gone ahead with plans to meet up with Alice for a drink at l’Escale... Perhaps Jackie had posted an image from the popular seafront café?
Opening Instagram, ça y est, there was a video update from my 24-year-old. I noticed bistro chairs in the foreground and a vibrant orange coucher du soleil on the horizon. My eyes locked on the young woman walking toward the blazing orb. Was it Jackie? I played the clip over and over, to where the girl takes off in a spirited gallop toward the setting sun. There was something about the image that stirred me....
Just then I heard the front door and the sound of steps in the stairwell. A gentle rapping on the bedroom door and Jackie appeared. A soft floral-fresh scent now filled the space between mother and daughter. I noticed her shiny hair, her new blazer, thick gold loops the French call créoles...
“Come sit down!” I motioned to the edge of the bed. I couldn’t wait to hear all about my daughter's day. Did everything go smoothly? How was the drive all the way out to La Baie des Singes? Was it easy to find a place to park? Did the restaurant ask for un passe sanitaire?
With her fading French accent, Jackie assured me tout s'est bien passé. But how was I? she wanted to know. How was Grandma? What did we do all day? Oh, and did I see her video?
“Yes! I loved it! What a wonderful capture of the girl walking into the sunset...”
"I thought of you when I saw it. I knew I had to film it for you..."
How touching that she would stop to think of her mom. Such love stirred me. Suddenly, I recalled being at that same place...and thinking of her—or the her that was to be or should have been. It was uncanny... déjà vu... the sunset, those bistro chairs, the girl running towards the horizon (Jackie or me? The image was superimposing, transporting me back to the summer of ‘93 when my daughter was but a twinkle in my eye)....
Twenty-eight years ago I sat alone at that very café, watching the sun go down on my life in France. I watched as a young mother parked her stroller at a table across from mine. She reached for her baby, hugging and kissing the child before settling into her bistro chair. I remember my heart sinking, tears welling up, and the thought of what might have been....
I recounted to Jackie the story of her parents' rupture years before she was born. "Little did I know then that you would be sitting here with me today. Isn’t it amazing?" Reaching for my daughter’s hand, I was replaying in my mind the image of the girl running toward the blazing horizon when Jackie looked at me, somberly.
"It is hard to think that we will only be here together for 50 years..."
"What do you mean? Here at the same time on earth?"
"Well, that’s true, one day we'll be dust. But you know I believe in...."
"Heaven," my daughter continued.
"Yes! And I know you have your own beliefs. But one thing we both have to believe is that our souls are entwined éternellement." As my daughter listened, I thought I saw a twinkle in her eye. It brought me back to that glittering sea, the girl, the mother-child, the sunset, and Life's mystery.
“Nobody knows what comes next,” I admitted. “Not even the most brilliant scientist. All that is certain is dust and this soulful connection we have.” It is why, in the midst of a crowd, we think of our bien-aimée and sometimes even finish their sentences when we are together. Who can explain it?
émerveillement = wonderment, amazement
la calanque = rocky inlet
ça y est = there it was
le coucher du soleil = sunset
les créoles = hoop earrings
La Baie des Singes = Monkey Bay
le passe sanitaire = health pass, vaccination passport
tout s'est bien passé = everything went well
l’âme-fille = soul daughter
la rupture = break-up
éternellement = eternally, infinitely, without end
le/la bien-aimé(e) = beloved
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety