I had a vague idea of what I was going to write today. That all evaporated into the thick Nashville humidity just now, my living room buzzing with the sounds of A/C units on full blast and ceiling fans whirring madly overhead. An hour ago I was on my couch, eating leftover vegetable korma with hard boiled eggs, watching a modified version of the movie Julie & Julia on my iPad. This version was a bootleg one off of a free streaming service, containing only the Julia Child storyline (roughly half of the movie), or, the Julia--cheekily titled Julia Sans Julie. Turns out, this was the only part of the movie that I needed to see tonight.
To be quick in my recap, the movie I saw was just a broad reimagining of Julia Child's life, namely her time spent in France. The film opened with her move to Paris; she is seen perusing the street markets and speaking in a fearless, bemused amalgamation of Frenglish: She's the hero I never knew I had.
Talking to C today on Skype, I caught glimpses of the mountain ranges behind him, the sunny green hillsides and the blinding crystal glint of Lake Geneva below. I imagined the streets in the city square, teeming with locals on Sunday and Wednesday mornings for the bi-weekly fresh markets, the French language wafting up and mixing with the smells of just-out-of-the-oven baguettes and hyper-seasonal vegetables, bursting with flavor. I imagined my hand outstretched, with foreign change slipping from my palm and jangling into the stall-owner's, as he hands me a full bag of produce. What new sounds will I hear? Will they make new music in my head?
In the movie, Julia would be in a library trying to request a French cookbook translated to English, but had no clue whatsoever of how to ask the French librarian for assistance. Finally, she just throws up her hands and paints a defiant smirk on her face; as if to say "Well, whatever! I'm still having fun." This woman was fearless and chock full of adventure.
Taking years upon years to finish a cookbook that would later become a masterpiece, she passed deadline after deadline for no other reason than to properly finish what she started. She took the time to eye each recipe, with every entry lovingly checked and "scientifically proven", as she herself (played by Meryl Streep) said in the movie.
For now, I still feel pretentious in my Nashville apartment as I tend to my herb garden, drinking French tea and listening to C's French pop music playlist over my desk speakers. I wonder how Julia must have felt when her husband was transferred from country to country on four-year assignments, the first of which being in China. I wonder if she ever asked herself, "Why me?" (I mean both the positive AND negative connotations tied to that question). A confusing mix of intrigue and hesitation comes with the entire situation for me still.
But Julia didn't ever seem to blink. She towered above those around her; not only because of her physical height, but through her immense joy of life, and the infectious passion she directed towards her pursuits. Someday soon, I'll care less about my flubbed French syllables spoken in a honky tonk American accent, and more about the fun I'm going to have in a brand new place, with brand new smells, and maybe even a brand new me. I'll save you a baguette.