French again

Rouen, France. Photo by Katie Botkin.

A Letter from Katie Botkin in France:

Several years ago, I lived in upper Normandy, teaching English, and now I am going back. After I land in Paris, the relief of being able to understand the language is acute. No longer do I have to stand straining to listen in to the conversations, picking out a word here and there. I can make my way by asking for directions and because I know the general layout of the metro. I can saunter up to the counter at the St. Lazare station and glibly ask for a ticket to Rouen. And then ask when the next train is, and which platform it’s going to be on. I love being able to speak the language. Madly. The words surge in my blood, the flash of idiom and lilt and what is culturally possible. This carries me along, in a prickly, but beloved, fog, though the hour is late and I am famished.

I get to Rouen around 11 p.m. and walk the streets I once knew well, to rue Guy de Maupassant, and ring the bell. Sophie, who spent a month with my family in Idaho, lives here.

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