Rosine is an incredible woman. Very thoughtful, intelligent, well-spoken and respectful. We knock every time we want to enter a room, but at the same time, when I may have accidentally walked into the unlocked salle de bains while she was getting out of the shower, she was okay with it and said I need not apologize. She just illuminates grace and comfort in every sort of way.
When I was sick, she gave me three kinds of cough drops, when I got stitches she took me to the pharmacy to get better supplies to wash my wounds, and had the pharmacist re-wrap my stitches after we had been walking along the Seine. And she will cook for me whenever, even though I don't ask her to. I can genuinely tell she wants to teach me, not talk down to me for my very simple mistakes.
"A Warm Welcome", Chez Madame Dru, 2010
And while her outlook on life is at a different point than where I find myself, I can very easily see my future ressembling hers. She is not active in politics, but she holds very strong opinions on how the world functions and what could be changed. We had a fifteen minute conversation about how silly it was that people spend their whole lives trying to pay off a mortage, when having a roof over your head is probably the single most important thing you need in life. And we talked about how globalization has completely diminished the lives of small farmers, who work their entire lives to provide for their families. But with importing and exporting goods taking over every market system, it becomes impossible for them to stand on their own two feet.
"Les Escaliers", Chez Madame Dru, 2010
Today we had an afternoon date planned to go the Modern Art Museum of Paris, and possibly Palais Tokyo, an industrial art museum with a pretty funky twist. I came back from class to take a nap since I haven't been sleeping well with my stitches. Rosine said, ok, bonne sieste and I'll see you soon. Around 3 pm she meekly walked into my room and said, "Excusez-moi Lauren, je vous revez." Looking at my clock I realized I overslept by an hour and immediately got up. She told me to take my time because she was preparing some meat for us to eat before we left.
Meat = hamburger + tomato salad = nomnoms.
So we leave around 3:45, after she made sure I thoroughly cleaned my stitches of course, and set off to find her car. It took us about thirty minutes and three cigarettes later to find her car. We were on the verge of aborting the mission and taking the bus when we turned on one final rue. The whole time we talked about her neighbors and her childhood, and Elisa's half sister. It was nice to just walk around the streets and hear her talk while she strutted along in her Birkenstock sandals and black flowing skirt with a long matching sheer top.
Wind blowing through our hair, Rosine showed me a few places on our way across the Seine. We talked about anglacismes, idiomatic phrases, and pollution. When we got to the Modern Art Museum we realized the permanent collection was a look-alike or a second-hand collection, meaning certain artists mimicked other works of art. It was pretty interesting to see different interpretations of famous Matisse paintings, or Warhol prints, or even Pollock tosses of paint. And the whole time, Rosine would look at one, guess the name and run up to the sign to see if she was right. And she was about 99.99999% of the time. We went through the whole museum in about an hour, but somehow discussed nearly every d'oeuvre.
"Le the et les noix.", Chez Madame Dru, 2010
After sharing a Diet Coke on the Terrace we stepped into Palais Tokyo to look at the funky gift shops. She bought me a 1Euro postcard that has the name "Aurore" written in graffiti on the front. Then she took me to a pharmacist and bought me new cleanser for my arm and made sure my dressings were clean enough. We walked along the Seine for a few minutes and discussed how I can get back to this area tomorrow for class. The evening was so nice, we even got to see a little garden at the back of the museum. On our way home we stopped at a supermarche for some things for dinner. It was a very light selection; some endives with pears, seeds, ham and olive oil. Then peaches with ice cream for dessert. Wonderfully simple.
Elisa got home after we finished dinner so we caught up for a few minutes and discussed the permanent collection we had just seen. And she asked me about my adventure filled weekend and if everything turned out okay. Rosine made a joke that everything bad happened when she left, and I said, "Oui, aujord'hui a Sweet Briar, j'ai dit que quand ma mere d'acceuil est partie, l'enfer est arrive! C'est comme, when mom leaves for the weekend, all hell breaks loose!" She laughed and said, "and so it goes..." (Is she not perfect or what for making a Vonnegut reference?)
When Elisa left the kitchen Rosine told me this beautiful story about when the French had a fete for the Americans after WWII when they sent thank you gifts to the States. Each gift had a name and address of the family who sent it. Her mother just so happened to send a doll of some kind, and there was an American woman who sent her a letter, asking where she could find one because she had a daughter, who happened to be about Rosine's age at the time, who wanted one. Instead of just writing back a response to find the doll, Rosine's mother sent the woman a doll of her own and they soon became pen-pals. In the late 1950's, Rosine's father traveled to the states and actually met the woman. But her mother never did. And until the two died, they continued to write each other, telling stories of their lives in the kitchen and around the family. One Christmas, Rosine told me she received a great package with things she had never seen before. One-piece pajama sets with footies, Rice Krispie treats, Popcorn, etc. She said it arrived a few weeks before Christmas but she had to wait, but it always stood out in her mind. I thought it was beautiful that Rosine's mother found such a great hobby to start, and that she was able to create a wonderful friendship that lasted until death. That would be so hard to do today, there are no more celebrations of countries helping one another, no connections made between absolute strangers. It's a different time now though.
"L'amour est un caillou riant dans le soleil.", Jardin du Luxembourg, 2010
Then we moved on to talking about her wall of memories. For 15 years she has built this wonderful wall, and I was envious for a few weeks because she was keeping these memories to herself. But tonight, I had the pleasure of going through just one set of keepsakes on the wall. We took down a small handbag full of old tickets and notes from the past years. I was happy to see this because I have been saving my movie theater, museum, and theater tickets for years. Seeing her face light up when she pulled each ticket or handout from inside the purse was priceless. She would quickly pick up her green-framed glasses from the chain hanging on her neck, place them on her nose, and say to herself, "C'est quoi ca....OH! Je sais! Oh, c'est incroyable!" And then the story would start. For nearly an hour she dove into past adventures, surprises for her children, and even little notes she wrote herself from a series of photographs she once went and saw.
One quote stood out to me, "You are not the only who is lonely." I couldn't read the signature beside the quote, but it reminded me of one of To Write Love on Her Arm's creedos: "You are not alone." So I got to tell her all about the organization I try to help out with, and how its for suicide prevention. She thought it was great and she seemed surprised to hear me say I helped out with a non-profit organization, probably because I already have so much on my plate.
We talked, and talked, and every time her eyes lit up, I felt mine light up. I thought to myself, This is really someone I want to be there when I walk down the aisle, when I publish my first book of short stories, and someone I'd like to send photos too every few months. After a day like this, who would want to leave Paris so soon?
"Hoarders Paradise", Chez Madame Dru, 2010