If you know that I live in France, you might expect that a day in my life is . . . well . . . if not exotic, then at least interesting. Sometimes it is.
When I go for my semi-annual checkup at the dentist, I exit the train where the Arc de Triomphe is and watch the cars zip by in the roundabout there. I stare down the massive Champs Elysées, teeming with people and shops on both sides of the avenue, before turning on to the slightly smaller avenue that will take me to my destination. The dentist’s office is located behind heavy, wooden doors that lead to a private stone courtyard with a tended garden on either side of the pathway. The waiting room has moulding around the light fixture hanging from the ceiling, and it has tall windows that extend to the ceiling and open from the middle.
And when I go to church in Paris, which is a mixed crowd but with services in French, I find that I am able to translate simultaneously for English-speaking visitors. I mean that as fast as the minister can say the words, I can translate them for the guests so they don’t miss anything. I don’t mean to brag – really, I’m nothing much to look at. But I’m really surprised I can do that!
And when I stop at the local boulangerie/patisserie to pick up pain au chocolat or croissants for my children’s four o’clock snack, that’s pretty remarkable. Of course, I can only inhale the buttery scent. I can’t actually eat it, since I’m gluten intolerant. (Pity). But even the magnificent creations – the opéras, millefeuilles, the éclaires – they are a feast for the eyes every time I go.
But those are the exceptional moments. On any given day, I wake up as late as I can get away with, and feed my kids something quick and easy for breakfast before my husband brings them to the bus station. Then I walk my dog on the untended path that borders the river Seine in the suburbs. Sometimes he rolls in poop and I have to try and choke back my vomit until I can get him home and wash him. After that, I head to the private bilingual school in a nearby town where I tutor high school students in English. (I have to read Medea or War Poems or Gabriel Garcia Marquez to keep up with their program).
There isn’t much time in between tutoring and picking the kids up from school, so sometimes I write or blog, and sometimes I nap. (shh). Rarely am I inspired to clean my floors. When I pick the kids up from school, I drive so we don’t have to carry the backpacks home, and I get there early so I can chat with my friends. When it’s warm and sunny, and there is the sound of children laughing and playing everywhere, the future looks bright.
If I don’t have an English class in the home to teach after school, or if I don’t have to bring one of my kids to an activity, I might take the dog for another walk. Or I might start dinner – roast chicken, rice and ratatouille is pretty standard. I encourage the kids to do their homework and practice their instruments. I try to get them to play outside if it’s nice, and fight against the losing battle of the siren’s call of electronics. When did people stop liking to read?
We eat late – around seven or so. If I’m lucky and my husband is home instead of traveling, he’ll put the kids to bed while I tidy up the dishes. And then we watch an American television series and read before going to sleep. You see? An ordinary life. But so happily mine.
At seventeen, Jennie Goutet has a dream that she will one day marry a French man and sets off to Avignon in search of him. Though her dream eludes her, she lives boldly—teaching in Asia, studying in Paris, working and traveling for an advertising firm in New York.
When God calls her, she answers reluctantly, and must first come to grips with depression, crippling loss, and addiction before being restored. Serendipity takes her by the hand as she marries her French husband, works with him in a humanitarian effort in East Africa, before settling down in France and building a family.
Told with honesty and strength, A Lady in France is a brave, heart- stopping story of love, grief, faith, depression, sunshine piercing the gray clouds—and hope that stays in your heart long after it’s finished.
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Genre – Memoir
Rating – PG-13
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