Thursday, September 18, 2008

Expanding on my (wannabe) Frenchness and a little of my Mormon-ness

I'm sure some of you have noticed under the title for my blog the words "mais une vrai française". And some of you that don't know me probably wonder what that has to do with being a military wife. Honestly, it has nothing to do with it. Nothing at all. It just happens to be that I love France and I'm a military wife at the same time.

Back when I was about to finish 8th grade, we got to choose our classes for our first year as a freshman in high school. At that time, I was planning on going to college, (I think I still liked BYU at the time) and was trying to take classes that would get me there. Living in Southern California, the logical choice of a language would have been Spanish. But talking to a few friends that were already in high school, they suggested taking french. The teacher was great, and the Spanish teachers weren't that great. So, it sounded cool. I signed up for french.

It was the best decision I made at the very young age of 14. Well, other than signing up for a typing class. I LOVED french. I LOVED my teacher. And it was easy for me. Sentence structure, verb conjugations, making our nouns agree with the subject pronoun, all so easy for me!!! Everything about the country was fascinating to me. It became a goal for me to get there.

I didn't really have the funds for me to get there, nor did my parents. But I KNEW somehow I would get there.

Fastforward through the rest of high school, a few boyfriends, and a couple of jobs.....I decided to go on a mission for my church. It wasn't something that I had ever thought of before. But it sure felt like the right thing to do. So I did what I needed to do, and when I got my papers back...I was going to France. TO FRANCE!!!!!!!!!! It was like I was MEANT to go. (as a side note, almost all of my siblings took french from that same teacher and out of the four of us that have served missions, 3 have been to France. how freakin awesome is that.)

As with any language, it took me a while getting used to actually speaking it and using it. And understanding what these amazingly fast french speakers were saying. (joe, I'm sure you have some memories of me whining about it) By the time I left, it felt like home. It was killing me to have to leave and go home. I wept about it. I really did. I was terrified to go home, to that "foreign" place where no one spoke french, where I had to have a life, where I had to get a job and interact with the opposite sex on a more intimate basis. Where I had to deal with my mother, and the most difficult thing was that the day after I came home my sister got married. It was not planned this way. They said, "here is the day we're getting married, hope you can be there" and it ended up I flew back the night before. I swear that was one of the longest days of my life.

So, then Matt joined the military and our first post was Heidelberg, Germany. I was so tickled to go I could hardly stand it. Not just for Germany, but because we weren't that far from France!!! And I could go as often as I liked!! And boy did I go. I felt so "at home" there. The language would always take me a bit to really get warmed up with, but once I was warm, I was good.

I just love France. I love their candy, their food, the history, and yes even the people. Because they don't all hate Americans. They really don't. Ask anyone old enough to have been around during WWII and they have nothing but wonderful things to say. Go to an American Cemetery. Get away from the touristy places (although those are fun too) and you will find that people want to know everything about where you live. I've been told I look French. HA!! I don't look French at all. Few people, including men, are as tall as I am. But I kind of like it. I have a very European home. Between my polish pottery, the prints my Grandma bought in Paris in the 60's that are hanging on my wall, my Eiffel tower bookends with my Europe books between them, and my hand embroidered small table cloth with my hand painted Bavarian style German mugs that sit on my dining room table. While I am mostly French, I welcome other European countries too. I just love it.

So, THAT is a little story about my Frenchness and a tiny bit of my Mormon-ness.


Jen said...

I would love to see pictures of your home/decorating/european stuff. Cool post!

Fort Skinner said...

That's really cool!! I took 3 years of spanish & one of italian and now i wished I would have done french!
I would love to visit there with you so you could show me all the real cool non touristy stuff.

J.Ammon said...

You forgot the "e" at the end of vraie. You disappoint me with your lazy gender mistakes.

emily said...

i never in a million years imagined myself part of a french-ish household. This Joe person, MAJORING in it... Never imagined it. But it's cool. And I loved getting to go there and see the great parts. :)

Piouette said...

Thanks I love it that you are so francophile. it's refreshing that not every american hates us. i'm sad because as you said the opposite is also true, not every french hates americans. look at me ;-))