My mind woke to the now familiar sounds of arctic winds whirling around the home in which I lived. Even before I opened my eyes I could see the blinding white extending further than my eyes could comprehend. The desolate beauty of it never ceased to stir my soul and to dull it.
I thought about pulling the covers over my head and letting the day pass without me. I thought about it, but ultimately gave into the wind.
The house was quiet. Everyone left hours ago. Going to jobs they hate, classes that mean nothing to them. Going to lives so full of familiarity each event had become fuel for complaint. Complaints I seldom understood.
“Bonjour!” I cringed at my own accent, happy that I was only saying it to verify I was alone. I wondered if it was more rude to say the right word in a bad accent, or to say my own words in the right accent. Either way, in this moment it didn’t matter. The echo faded into nothingness and I listened again to the tumultuous winds.
I let myself remember what it was like to have a famililar life, and to remember why it felt so stifling. I remembered my own complaints and I laughed, momentarily breaking the hypnotic sounds of the wind.
“Ennui” I said allowed, pretneding to ignore the accent flaws. “Ce n’est pas facile d’avoir ennui. It is not easy to to be bored.” I wondered if I said it correctly.
The thought was interrupted by the telephone. I considered not answering. I couldn’t do it. The loneliness and curiosity forced me to answer. In spite of the knowledge that even if the person on the other end of the line spoke some of the words I’d learned on paper, I would not understand the accent or the application.
“Hello. Uh… pardon moi… Bonjour.” My English insticts ran deep. I’d answered telephone’s more in English than French.
My ears rang and my mouth went dry. My mind went blank. I could not understand a word. “Je suis desolé. Je parle anglais.” I was sorry too. Although in my head I spoke French all day, the truth still remained that I spoke anglais.
I listened as the other person continued to speak words I felt I should have known. My anger towards myself came through my voice and directed itself towards the caller. “I speak English. Do you?” They continued speaking in French, though obviously more irritated.
I felt sad as I hung up the phone. I began to wonder if my decision to learn a language in this manner was such a grand idea after all. I had thought by now I would have been comfortable, more conversational, even more functional. Language was supposed to be a natural thing, easily learned.
I thought about calling my mother. It was becoming a daily habit of mine, something my mother liked, but somehow felt disingenuous in me. My independence was faltering at every turn it seemed.
I took a deep breath and decided to prepare to leave the house. “Je vais prendre une douche.” I again said to no one, so much braver in the knowledge that no one was listening.
A shower would feel good and hopefully change my gloomy mind set, at least long enough to push me into action.
The phone rang again and again. I reluctantly answered, this time remembering where I was. “Allo.” It was a friend of my host’s son. “Parle lentement, s.v.p.” My ocnfidence grew as I remembered my words. “Je parle un peu de franais.” It felt good to acknowledge that I did speak the little French.
The voice on the line slowed as my mind raced, my words were wrong but somehow communicative. I managed to tell him to call back later. His voice felt friendly.
As I hung up the phone, I felt happier and again, I laughed at myself and how fragile my ego could be. “Des mots.” How much my life, my humour and my identity revolved around using the right words.
I was right. The shower washed away the doubt and insecurities in the same manner as the dirt. I was ready to try again, as I did everyday.
“Ce n’est pas facile d’essayer, but I knew it my heart it was well worth the efforts.