French Sabbatical

My family's year in France…

Day 350 (15 June 2011) – A Portrait of Today

As Melinda, Ella & I were waiting for the tram today a man came up and starting talking to us. It was a little uncomfortable, given his forwardness, his alcohol-laced breath, and him speaking in French, saying something about Melinda’s shoes (I think). I told him that I didn’t understand him and for a minute he switched to speaking some sentences in English, then Italian. After that, he went back to French.

Standing there chatting away, he took out a pad of paper and began to draw my portrait. The tram arrived, what I thought would provide us our separation. Surprisingly, though, he followed us on in order to continue drawing. I stayed near the door with him so Ella and Melinda could have some space. He drew for several stops, people brushing past us to get on and off. In the end, he asked my name and wrote it on the picture, then tore the picture out of his book and gave it to me (that’s me holding it in today’s picture). I tried to give him a Euro but he scoffed, saying, “Gratuit, gratuit (Free, free).”

It was an odd experience, to say the least. Like I said, it was uncomfortable but there was also something relaxing about it as he drew me, almost meditative. He was highly focused on his task and seemed intent on pleasing me. And he was quite insistent about not taking a coin, something that helped make the whole exchange more pure, if that makes sense. I learned something here, although I’m still trying to figure out what it is.

Melinda, Ella and I were on the tram to go get lunch, eating at a crêperie in the center of town. The three of us did a small amount of shopping, too, picking up a new swimming suit for Ella and a scarf for Melinda. Chloe continues to be in Paris with Alex. Last night she and I exchanged text messages, Chloe reporting they had a nice dinner sitting outside the Sacré-Cœur and how beautiful the Eiffel Tower looked, all lit up at night. I responded with something about how I’ve heard people love Paris in the springtime.

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June 15, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Dare I say, not only did he not pick you pocket, he did what you encourage us to do for others all the time – do a kind action. Nice to see you on the recieving end!

    Comment by Linda Taylor | June 16, 2011 | Reply


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