Lilacs and conversation, even in a foreign language, are good for the soul. Sunshine and fresh air don’t hurt either!
This morning I received some rather discouraging news just before I headed out to the market, which prompted one of those existential crises that seem common among grad students: Daily Routine
Instead of panicking this time, I decided to go about my day, enjoy the sunshine, and mull over life while doing so. I meandered down to the market near City Hall and was so proud of myself for finding it even when I missed one of my turns – without pulling out my map I might add! (I even found my way back to my apartment by a different route sans map!)
After living in Chicago for six months and walking in heels too often (read: always), my feet have made it clear that I need a little more variety in my footwear. I decided to look for an inexpensive pair of comfortable, flat leather sandals and found just what I was looking for at the first shop I explored. My feet thanked me as I wore them out of the store, and I congratulated myself on escaping with only one awkward moment as I navigated the language. I continued to follow the winding roads heading toward the market and couldn’t help but feeling relieved and excited that everything looked familiar.
Recognizing a number of shops and cafes, I knew I was getting close, and before too long, the scents of lavender, spices, freshly baked bread, cheese, and fresh seafood announced that I had arrived. The fish were exactly where I remembered them, as were the sachets of lavender, the vegetables, and flowers; it seemed as if no time had passed since my last visit. However, my French has improved since then, and I was able to convey what I needed to and carry on simple conversations and transactions. The language is beginning to feel more familiar, and my mind no longer goes blank when someone starts talking to me. I have much to learn, but it is coming back and will get easier with time and practice. Everyone makes mistakes, and I will make my fair share as I learn, but that is the way of things.
My last stop was the flower market in the square right next to city hall. My room is almost entirely white, accented with a black office chair and black and white desk, so it desperately needs some color and life. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking for, but I continued to browse until a vender said good morning to me, and I took a closer look at her flowers. They were beautiful and were very reasonably priced. When I found the lilacs – the least expensive, most fragrant and gorgeous, I knew they would be perfect. I was right. On the way home, an elderly women declared that they are the king of the flowers and even paid me a complement as well. They are beautiful and make me smile every time I look at them.
I arrived back at the apartment feeling much better about life in general and mine in particular. My conversation (all in French) with one of my roommates – a professor of Spanish history – improved my mood even more. He noticed how much my French had improved over the past few days, and we passed the time amicably, comparing the foods we could eat, where we found them, and laughing at French bakers’ horror when asked about sugar-free cakes.
Things will sort themselves out. I know that I am doing what I am meant to right now, and that is what matters. The future is in God’s hands. Now… back to work! 😉