Message In A Bottle
You go to the mailbox, it’s stuffed full of advertisements. The mail falls through a slot in your door, it’s a pile of bills. You sit down at your computer, you’ve got a letter from France. Today marks a full year of French Letters, written just for you, and as I often do, I’m using the occasion of a birthday to reflect on the past year, before looking forward to the year to come.
And because there are 152 French Letters to contemplate, I’m linking here to some of my favorite moments as the year unfolded, so that you can have the essence of French Letters flash before your eyes by clicking your way through some of the year’s top titles. Unfortunately, you’ll have to click your back arrow after every one to return to this page, but there’s no way to fix that, so, like French plumbing, you’ll just have to live with it. Come on, let’s reminisce!
There was the agony of uprooting ourselves that I wrote about in Feeling Peeled, and the last letter from home, Sowing the Seeds of Success. That picture, by the way, was still on the camera when we arrived at Charles de Gaulle sans luggage, and we were able to show it to the lost luggage lady instead of trying to remember in our jet-lagged fog what color our bags were.
I’ll never forget our first view of our new home Hot and Naked in France, our introduction to some of the small nearby towns Is The Glass Half Empty, or the first time we saw a scorpion Do You See Any Scorpions? I have to laugh now at my year-old innocence: we actually thought that finding a scorpion in the house was an anomaly. Now we are almost used to it, like so many of the things that startled us at first.
There was my quest for the cheapest drinkable French wine Cheap and Nasty, in which we discovered a great way to kill ants, my first ever visit to a sports bar for the Rugby World Cup Allez, Allez, Allez Les Bleus, the monumental meat we brought home from the Pays Basque The Ham That Rocks The Cradle, and the time we tried to help French schoolkids with their homework I Try and I Try and I Try, Try, Try.
There was our trip to A French Christmas Market, our Christmas trip to the fabulous La Boqueria de Barcelona and a celebration of the past year with a French Toast. Then I started the new year off right by getting under the table in Queen For A Day, we saw breathtaking flamenco in Avignon The Flamenco Spirit, we got sick and tired of foie gras Foie Gras Frisson, Shel celebrated A Birthday In Provence, and we ate part of a 3,000 egg omelette It’s Truffle Time. We celebrated Valentine’s Day French style Words Of Love So Soft And Tender, and I asked one of the most important questions of our year Why Are The French So…Nice?
Still with me? It’s been a year packed full of fun and amazement, and there’s so much I’m skipping over. You can, of course, go digging through the archives any time you want to, so I’m trying to keep the nostalgia down to a manageable level here. But remember the time I agonized over cooking for French people Mise En Place, or when I explored Every French Woman’s Fantasy, or when we discovered How To Celebrate Your 13th Anniversary? And then suddenly it was summer La Beauté Estivale, with time just flying by, like the too brief life of A Bird In The Hand. We had a sweet American Moment Vive L’Indépendance, were mesmerized like everyone else When The Tour De France Comes To Town, and did something I never thought I’d do That’s A Lot Of Bull!
And then, funnily enough, a year had flown past, fast, so fast, and we’ve all grown up a bit. We no longer shrug helplessly and say “oh well, c’est la France” every other day. In fact, we’re far more likely to say some version of “why would we ever leave here?” So Happy Birthday, French Letters, it’s been a great year. Chockablock with thrilling experiences, learning new things each and every day, meeting wonderful people, and you, dear readers, and you. Because of course if it weren’t for you there’d be no French Letters, and I’d have missed out on one of the most interesting parts of my life.
Once again I cast a message adrift on a sea of pixels, wending its way through the ether to your screen. And if you’ve ever thought about setting forth on a life-changing adventure yourself, and you know you have, I can only say: do it. So here’s the real message in the bottle: take chances, reach high, and you’ll be richly rewarded. Sometimes you’ll find yourself naked in a foreign land, but oh well, c’est la vie.