Category Archives: Languages

It All Started with Paris.

It All Started with Paris

“Make one day Day One.” I saw this phrase yesterday on an advertisement. What a great phrase. Reminds me of how this whole crazy idea of mine started; the idea of learning a language and traveling to the country where people speak that language.  Make your one day Day One.  Paris was always a one-day-I-would-love-to-go dream.  Suddenly I was forty. My daughter, Claudia, was on the verge of high school and our one days together seemed to be numbered.  I had never even been to Europe.

My infatuation with Paris and French began in the ballet classes of my childhood.  French is the language of ballet.  I chose French for my second language in middle school.  Madame Champion taught it ineffectually by having us conjugate verbs and memorize words for spelling tests.  She spent most of her time marching up and down the aisle of the classroom monitoring my conduct and calling home to complain of my impertinent mouth.  I remember telling a boy that his mother wore combat boots.  I remember that remark leading to a call home.  What I do not remember is speaking French.  Claudia, on the other hand, attended Notre Dame des Victoires where she started learning French in kindergarten.  She learned poems and songs,  However, by seventh grade, if anyone spoke to her in French, she turned red and grew mute. She had all of her language locked in her head.  She lacked the confidence to engage in conversation.

One day, our book group read a very dreary book about a women who was diagnosed with brain cancer.  Our discussion of the book centered on the thought of what if we each had only one year to live.  Would we do anything differently.  If we would do things differently, why weren’t we living that way now.  What would we change to make the year really count.  Suddenly, all of those one days seemed urgent.  Why was I delaying my dreams to one day?  I decided Paris was going to happen.  I was going to learn French so I could help Claudia become more confident in her French.  One day became Day One of Project April in Paris.

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How a Thousand Yellow Butterflies Taught Me About Pura Vida.

Thousands of yellow butterflies float  through the sky as we wind down the dirt road heading away from Monteverde.  I first notice them in the morning as I stand one last time on the back porch of the Star House, the house we had rented in Santa Elena. The little yellow butterflies flutter like flower petals tossed in the wind. I watch them dart over the field behind the house, across the road and up the far hill covered with coffee plants and banana trees. They stream by as if someone has turned on a butterfly faucet. Steadily, they pour across the horizon.

the back porch

This is our last day in Monteverde, the cloud forest paradise reachable only by unpaved roads and four by fours. Now we unwind the road from the clouds by slowly circling dowthe road to monteverdenward towards the Costa Rican coast. The yellow butterflies fill the sky. They fly over the trees, the green hills, the grazing cows, the coffee plantations, the towns, the churches, the soccer fields, the fences, and the dirt road. Every direction I look the yellow butterflies fill the air like a yellow snow storm. As I look, I think to myself “pura vida.” This magical moment can only be described as “pura vida.”

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Mr.Henry’s House in Hydra, Greece

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June 14, 2010

A wasp is fighting a losing battle with the light by the kitchen.  He angrily buzzes at the light as if he is enraged by the light’s very existence.  The wasp wants something from the light. It is upset by the light’s inaction.  The wasp is getting tired.  I wonder whether it will leave or just die of rage.

I hear the donkey in the yard behind the house walking around in the hilly enclosure, its hoofs clacking against the rocks.  A crowd cheers as a team scores a goal in the World Cup.  A boat hums as it passes into the harbor.  Everything echoes in Hydra at night.  People’s voices mix with the call of a bird.  Being at Mr Henry’s house is like camping with beds inside.  There’s an explosion of barking dogs.  I wonder what sent them off.

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