Updated: Jan 23

In preparing for my time in Paris, a native French speaker approached me at a party to share in the language. It seemed spontaneous, the words that were flowing from my lips, and I doubted if I made any sense; but he encouraged that my accent was very good and so the conversation continued.

I looked past his shoulder to find my friends giggling in expectation that I had developed a crush. And perhaps I did, but the friendship that would develop from my desire to reach fluency, would prove another motive.

Slowly, the convenience of living on the same floor would foresee a number of coincidences. We’d bump into each other in the halls and restrooms, laughing and talking about anything. His accent proved difficult though, and slang almost impossible. It truly made me nervous to live amongst cold Parisians who were stubborn in righteousness. As the French lessons lingered between us, however, English prevailed to establish some confidence in understanding, and make easier the parties that would follow. One night, I remember his dancing somewhat humorous if not just different, as he offered me a drink with no expectation of paying him back. But he said, “What’s mine is yours. Anything I own, I expect you to use; no need to ask. When I am in your home, you will do the same,” and this surprised me more than the generosity of a drink. The semester to follow led to an admiration of his character in this regard. His friendship, in the end, successfully challenged even the simplest of my habits. Such procedures working to open my mind to understanding my subconscious thoughts, and eventually, solidifying the ability and drive to view more of them critically. Upon the return to school during COVID, for I hadn't seen him in a couple years, I once again was bumping into him. In the most unexpected times, whether the same subway car or the same restaurant, I seemed to always be in the same place as him by chance. And after taking "chance" up on a reason to rekindle our friendship, we went out for dinner in the city. We wandered through the evening streets, laughing and telling jokes. We talked of our families and our dreams, and reflected upon loss. He took me to the aquarium where we jumped outside of a glass window. He said "Watch. The seals will mimic us." And we laughed, because it was true. "My friend showed me that." It was all a romantic night of sorts and I went home grateful to once again be with him— speaking French.

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