we can always talk about the weather
So cold, that all my conversations begin with me talking about how cold it is.
Waiting outside the school for the kids, I speak to Marilyn, a French au pair, our breath coming out in clouds. "C'est trop froid," we agree. Soon other au pairs and nannies show up and bisous are exchanged all around. We stand in a small circle, and I listen and laugh as they debate and joke about how heavily religion is drilled into these children. Their private Catholic school has them so engrossed with god, that even at home, all their drawings have "dieu" scribbled somewhere on them.
Later I'm at the little girl's ballet lessons, talking with a girl in the bathroom about the need for scarves these days. She tells me, as if admitting a dirty secret, that she wears two when she's at home alone.
The next morning I'm waiting for Monsieur to come out of the parking lot in the building beside ours so we can go to tennis. An old woman in a French cleaning dress asks me if I'm waiting for my husband. "No, no, their father, but not my husband," I laugh. She smiles and tells me it's warmer today, but still too cold. "Soon it will be summer," I tell her, "and we'll all be complaining it's too hot." Suddenly a woman in a bathrobe opens her window from above, and looks down to see a group of us staring at her, her morning face startled by her early audience.
In the evening I'm huddled against a heater in the family's apartment, and the Portugese cleaning woman, Alzira, tells me I need to find a man to keep me warm. Later the conversation becomes more serious, when she tells me about her 82-year-old mother with stomach cancer. Three years ago, when visiting Portugal, a doctor told her that her mother wouldn't last much longer. Alzira flew back to Paris for work the next day, crying the whole way, knowing her mother could die any day.
When her niece was married, her mother was in the hospital and couldn't go to the wedding. After the reception, the bride and her groom swept through the hospital, and caught the attention of every patient. The bride let her long white dress trail down the hospital hallway as she walked to her grandmother's room. The proud grandmother cried in her hospital bed, and they placed one of the bridesmaid's bouquets on her night table.
This week I seem to fall into conversation with everyone that crosses my path.
I love people. I'm fascinated by people. I want to know what they ate for dinner, how they met the love of their life, what town they were born in, and whether or not they're happy.
When I first came here I would go weeks without a real conversation, but these days no one feels like a stranger.
You can choose to shut out the world around you, or you can let it in, one person at a time.
All you have to do is bring up the weather.