From A Duckling To A Swan (And Back)


Yesterday all the neighbors got together for the annual meal in the barn across the street. We knew what to expect from having joined them last year, and in some ways we wished the whole thing would go away. Mostly because we were afraid of having to eat farci again.

Just like last year, I heard the gang gathering outside at around 10 AM. I wanted to get something to wear out of the front room where I keep my clothes and, since I hadn't remembered to shut the shutters the night before, I had to hit the floor and soldier crawl to the dresser in order to avoid being seen and waved to and shouted at by about thirty people.

Eric and I went over at noon and it was pretty much the same as the first time: kisses and handshakes all around, aperitifs and little sandwiches and then everyone sat down to eat the big meal. Which, thankfully, was not farci but delicious wild boar and roast chicken. And the most adorable pastries.

We listened to some stories and songs and Eric and I managed to make it through a song in French, as we'd vowed we would do last year. It all seemed a lot easier the second time around. Part of it was knowing what to expect, who to kiss, who to "tu" and who to "vous". When the cheese course would come, when they would tell us to break out the guitars.

A big factor in it being easier was that I could understand and speak French better. It's actually possible for me to make small talk now, about gardens and travel and bakeries and music and children. I felt like I'd really made progress.

But apparently that was only an illusion, a little bit of magic bestowed on me for showing up at the barn yesterday. Because this morning, in the bank, in the bakery - nothing. I could say barely one intelligible word of French. The spell was broken.