Happiest Moments in Paris This Year (Part I)

Les exceptions qui confirment la règle ?

I’ve been wanting to write a post about the bright moments that broke up the interminable hell of being tortured by the French bureaucracy and the nauseating financial perversion of the city’s habitants and its banks, as well as the politics of xenophobia, classist fascism that has been on the rise.

What is a friend? Someone who’s got your back. One friend let me shower at her place when there was no hot water at mine. Another helped me move in about five minutes flat when my former roommate orchestrated an elaborate hit job because I refused to pay full rent weeks in advance for an empty apartment.

One of the most beautiful moments was when a friend invited me to play some soccer. Since freshman year of high school, at the first night of tryouts, when Mr. Cann said to me, “Go home,” and I didn’t listen and came back to try outs and didn’t make the team, I have always believed I am bad at soccer. But what I learned from playing in Paris is that I’m capable of some elegant footwork and maneuvers, and yes, getting the ball in the goal as much as any other enthusiast.

At work there were always beautiful moments. Once at lunch time I had to walk through the courtyard where the kids were in recess. I had my hands full with a cluttered lunch tray and a small mob of them surrounded me and put their hands through the straps of the colorful jacket I had gotten for Christmas. They wouldn’t let go and I couldn’t do anything about it. So we walked that way through the entire courtyard.

The first grader with the most personality was always trying to get my attention. She would pull all sorts of stunts. One of those “chairman of the board” personalities who could speak over anyone else, even me. But I suspect she knew more than anyone how to win friends and influence people from how she would sing my name to me: Miss Jordyn / Miss Jordyn / Miss Jordyn.

At L’École Charenton where I worked the most, the kids were so polite and cheerful I could never have a bad day. They were so motivated, so eager to learn. One or two of the female teachers would bust my balls viciously on occasion, but I had such warm memories and impressions of every day, and my job was so fun that the pros certainly outweighed the cons. The children would always ask me “how are you, Miss Jordyn?” — kids from every age group, so sincere and happy about showing off that I felt like the most successful teacher on earth, no matter what happened.

I remember I read a story called “The Polite Elephant” to them and we would have conversations on “why is it important to be polite?” We would talk about how in every culture there are different norms and how if you are a foreigner being polite is one thing that helps one get ahead, necessary to make a good first impression. That being confident with such niceties eases the reality of differences, accents, and the natural gaps in understanding that exist.