One of the reasons we came to France was for me to learn how to speak French. I know, what a silly notion going to a country that speaks the language you want to learn. The problem is that I am not naturally good with languages. Unless you count gesturing and charades as a language. I can do a decent “call me” “I don’t know” and “this way”. I am pretty fluent as well in the language of driving in Boston. Which if anyone has done then you know you speak a whole different way when trying to maneuver a city built without a grid, no respect for street signs, and a whole bevy of people who don’t seem to know that the stick on the side of the steering wheel offers help when trying to say, turn.
I digress. I have been trying to learn French. I find that the experience can best be compared to driving cross country with only a radio. Imagine: you are driving and scanning the stations- getting a few words to come in clear every so often. You get lucky and catch an ENTIRE song-no matter that it is a song picked out by Delilah- it is a SONG. But then… you drive on a bad patch of road and find yourself suddenly listening to sports, or is a political discussion? You may catch a few words here or there- but you make up what is said in between.
This is what gets me in trouble. I have an incredibly active imagination and therefore assume I can just story-tell my way through most conversations. So what I thought was a conversation on three priests from Holland who came to France to enjoy the beautiful cost along Brittany…was actually about thee brothers from Ireland who were escaping repression. See what I mean? There is a bit of the truth- but not really.
Talking is even worse for me. I find my confidence is so low when it comes to speaking that I prefer being assumed mute. It is incredibly frustrating to me that I will spend ten minutes practicing a sentence in my head only to have the topic of conversation pass me by. I imagine the look on my face whilst I try to conjugate a verb in my head must make me look a bit deranged. I have been practicing an impassive face that will not give away the immense internal distress I am going through. I find that it is much easier to sit back and observe an entire dinner without saying anything except “C’est bon!”. Which it usually is. French food is tasty.