37. Three Tiers of Qu'est-ce Que Tu Fais

     I’ve had this song by Chris de Burgh, “The Lady In Red”, stuck in my head all day. The perfect 80’s hum of the low synths, the breathy exhale of the organ’s whirling leslie seeping through the track, like the dark mystery in this hot July night or its humid haze mixing with the crickets’ songs. I’m walking back from a friend's house on Belmont Boulevard, and there are too many things rolling around in my head.

     First, as my move approaches it seems like there are more and more fires breaking out, like tendrils trying to grab onto me and drag me back into the heart of Nashville. This week, there was a stupid conundrum involving a check that was first rejected by my bank for no reason, then the guy never got his money returned to him after the rejection, and when I went and cashed the check in person at my bank, his account was withdrawn from, again. Now he’s frustrated and I’m on my third call to Bank of America. 
     I sent out another attempt at collecting my funds from Jerry, with fingers crossed and only hope to guide me. 
     I drug my big space heater down three flights of stairs and up again to the main road where I planned to sell it to a woman on OfferUp, only to be stood up after she had confirmed an hour before. She said she’d come the day after. She never called again.

     Second, it’s been one long torrent of goodbyes and I’m so sorry, but—‘s. Each one of my piano students I’ve had to tell I'm leaving has torn my heart just a little more. I’m definitely being too hard on myself; my move overseas is not a middle finger to anyone. It’s a flat hand held over my eyes to block the sun’s beating rays, so I can look out from the ship’s bow to see the unexplored, foreign shores that lie ahead. I had a long call with my family yesterday, who are presently fielding what seem like impossible questions from friends and family. In next week’s blog post, I'll take a moment to address some of them. But the ones like How are you handling the thought of your daughter living in Europe? or How will you keep from worrying? seem mean and make me sad to think of any parent, let alone one of my own, being asked to answer them. Worry is worry, and a lot of times the answer is to stop thinking about it, but how can you when you’re reminded of it daily?

     Lastly, there are the things I’m looking forward to. Tonight was the second annual French Fest in Nashville, serendipitously held in Sevier Park about a mile walk from my front door. Last year, I had to miss it because of Tartufo, but the timing could not have been better in 2018, falling on a balmy Friday evening at 5pm on Bastille Day. I carefully applied my new makeup, and put on a pair of white overall shorts with a bright pink printed shirt reading, “c’est la vie” in an aristocratic font. Walking down Belmont, I met my friend and her little wiry terrier mix, Bacon, to accompany me the rest of the way, meeting Sharon at the park because she was driving. We strategically got there just as the fest kicked off, and the food truck lines were shallow. I nabbed a crepe with ham and Swiss, “La Parisienne”, and received a confused look from the cashier when I tried to pronounce it in the proper French. “The ham and cheese, please.” I blushed, defeated.

     The gathering was mirthful: long lines of large-bulbed string lights interspersed with French flag streamers hung from the trunks of the park’s old trees, casting a glow over the welcome tents, the stage where French singers were performing classics, and various vendors of antiques and foods ranging from fresh chantilly cream samples to artisanal goat cheese. It was magic. After our crepes, we walked through the partition to the roped-off wine garden, where the real test of the fest’s authenticity took place, in my opinion. After reading over the list of wines presented, all affordable yet carefully sourced from great regions, I deemed the French fest to be a wild success (don’t worry, I’m only this pretentious inside my own head). I got an Alsatian white blend: acidic, feminine and daring; and Sharon got a classic Provençal rosé. We stood under the lights and took in the moment. I felt excited to be a part of this culture full time; to not only be in the Mecca of wine, but to experience the heartland of old, diverse cultures all intermingling. Tonight was just America and France rubbing elbows; soon it will be France, Germany, and Italy crammed together in a kiddie pool. As I continue to move closer towards my flight, I stutter step the very thin line between panic and excitement. They do the very same thing to your heart; but for different reasons. Standing under the flags and lights, surrounded by a faction of Nashvillians I had never known were present, I couldn’t help but traipse about in the land of excitement for a few hours. We got our fill, and after a quick scoop of ice cream headed on our way. Waving goodbye to Sharon, who was off to meet someone else, my friend offered for us to watch French Kiss, a Kevin Kline and Meg Ryan movie I had never seen before, at her place. I really enjoyed the movie. One takeaway, besides Kline’s fairly spot-on French accent, was a scene detailing the “French girl pout”: the look of indifference and blasé that all French women keep in their back pockets to add depth and mystery to their romances. I am bad at the French pout--but I recognize the appeal. It’s just so hard for me not to be the excited labradoodle that I am all the time. 

I’ve still got a lot left to learn; there are many improvements left to me made, and cards I have yet to draw and add to my hand. Soon they’ll be written in a different language (see, i.e. jeu de cartes), and maybe I’ll have to learn how to play the game all over again. And it’s scary. I’ll be the first to admit: I’m very intimidated. In my next entry I’ll answer any questions I can think of, sort of like a FAQ for my upcoming voyage. If you have one in mind, please comment.

As I walk from my friend’s house back to my apartment, it’s nearly 10pm. I hear the song again in my head, and can’t take it anymore. The pulse of the drums creeps out of my phone speakers and into the night. I keep walking.

“I’ve never seen you looking so lovely as you did tonight, never seen you shine so bright...”