Dear me — I’m transforming — again. I have been bitten by the Paris bug.
I have wandered down many a reincarnation in my short 62-year life. As I have said in other blogs, I went through a Renaissance period in my 30s; shields and maiden dresses and unicorn tapestries. There was a cool working-downtown-Chicago phase when I was really young; I was never cool nor chic enough to keep up with the bubbles downtown, but it was fun pretending while it lasted.
Now I’m on the French train.
I am thinking of changing my writing name to either Claudette or Colette or Jacqui; my short term/long term memory is shot, so I can’t really learn French, but I know enough to eat (who doesn’t know Coq au vin or baguettes or Éclairs?) I have watched Midnight in Paris a hundred times, ordered Hemmingway’s Moveable Feast, and Colette’s Gigi; and signed up for a couple of French accounts (Haven in Paris on Twitter, Tongue in Cheek in email).
My BoHo Chic wardrobe-in-progress will fit splendidly on my pretend-jaunts through the French countryside, along with the pretend-designer purses I pick up at Good Will for my jaunts into Paris Proper. I have glanced at what basics a French Madame needs (flats, cars, cardigan, boots). Well, still working on that.
What is it twith this L’influence française?
It must be my never-ending desire to role play. To know who I am and who I can pretend to be. Who cares? I never did much dress up as a kid; my body was never conducive to mini skirts or leggings or stilettos. But my imagination has always played the boundaries. And the older I get, the more I can’t help but push.
This newly found love of Paris in the rain and wine tasting at La Cloche des Halles and spending the day at Versailles are all pipe dreams I’ll never really live. Kids, grandkids, work, car repairs, second mortgages, school loans, all take a toll on my very small pocket-book.
But then again, I probably will never wander through the lavender fields in England or the Moors in Scotland or the castles in Germany. But through adult-style role playing, I can write and draw and cook and pretend any time I want.
We all grow up too fast. Watching my 5-year-old grandson pretend to be Ironman or a farmer, he finds all the pleasure without the consciousness of pain and labor and broken dreams. They are happy in their own world, happy that you’re in it, too. That’s the state of mind I want to get back to.
People are so cynical these days. Creativity Creates Chaos. If you don’t look and act your age and status, you’re an easy target for rdicule and repremands.
Well, I say — lighten up.
Am I going to raise children through adverse poverty like in Les Miserables? Am I going to drive around aimlessly in the pouring rain singing La Vie En Rose? Am I going to spend an entire paycheck on some overpriced French perfume?
I think not.
Maybe I love getting lost in someone/someplace else because I have an idea for a story about two people who meet at a French bistro one evening and, for one night, find their soulmate. Or maybe I want to write a poem about the remarkable River Seine. Or maybe I want to sketch an op art picture of the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile.
I once wrote a story about a girl who ate lunch at an outdoor cafe, and drifted off to an encounter with a guitarrista in Mexico. I wrote another about a time out of time, a touch of midieval. One of my novels takes place in a displaced Eturia (Rome). I dove into each of those worlds with both feet. I researched ancient Roman cultures, Mexican hideaways, and King Arthur’s realm. And I think it helped make my worlds real.
I want to play with my characters. Feel what they feel. Live in their world. I want to tell their story. And if I get lost in a little pot au feu or astralology or Romans in space, so what?
Use your imagination to be whomever you want to be. You know where your core is — you’ll never get lost. You can come home to your warm bed and IPad and cable TV any time you want.
But in the meantime…(clears throat…)
Quand il me prend dans ses bras
Il me parle tout bas
Je vois la vie en rose…..
6 thoughts on “Pardon My French”
I love that! Daydreaming and planning and astral projecting are wonderful tools for creating worlds. Common sensetakes over when you get too far out of your comfort zone, but if you’re entertaining a reader or an art gallery visitor or photographers, what does it matter if you’ve never been there?
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I like the idea that you propose: Use your imagination to be whomever you want to be. That is the magic of being a writer, One can travel vicariously and imaginatively through one’s characters. I have spent one day in Rome but am now writing a story where much of the setting is in Rome. Through research (guide books, city maps, restaurant reviews and talking to people who live there) I am getting to know Rome as I get lost in its many districts and churches.
Have a happy weekend, Claudia (or is it Claudette?)
How wonderfully exciting! Is it as beautiful as the stories make it out to be? I know we all have beautiful countryside, but the fiction of the romance and laissez-faire attitude of its citizens is fodder for dreams — or at least stories and pictures!
I love France ! I’ve lived there for about 6 months a long time ago, met my husband there !!! we often go to France for a holiday and I would LOVE to live in the South of France…..alas my hub don’t want the same… well if you want to learn French later in life you’ll have to find yourself a French “aimant” he’ll teach you !!!:D
How absolutely cool! Bad memories give way to good ones in the long run.
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Ah, la belle Paris. When I was straight out of high school, I worked as an au pair girl in Paris. The pay was horrible, my living space was scary, and my family was mean to me. But in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter. Because I was in Paris. What an amazing city.