The American

 The American and her husband had been invited to a party to celebrate the arrival of this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau, a rather uninteresting wine that is supposed to give people an idea of how the wine made in the same year will taste. It has become a reason for people to have parties and start drinking early in the morning of November 15th, when it is released.

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 Unfortunately for the American, France was also having country wide strikes which involved the metros, buses and trains and getting around Paris was very difficult. It didn’t help that the party was a long distance from the apartment of the American and her husband. The cars on metro line one were so packed that the American couldn’t even scratch her nose and was unable to reach a bar to hang on to but it didn’t matter since there were so many people there was no danger of falling, much less moving. Getting off the train was very difficult as people wanting to get on were pushing, afraid they wouldn’t be able to board. Arrving at the metro stop for line 13, the American found many people waiting looking in the direction of the tunnel from which it was hoped a train would soon emerge. Thirty minutes later it still hadn’t shown up and then there was an announcement overhead that the train-the line split into two destinations-wouldn’t be going in the direction that the American needed. She went upstairs to the ticket office and asked what she could do. She was told to go to the stop right before the split and get off there and walk which was a matter of three metro stops, not too difficult except the American had been walking all over Paris the whole day and was tired and had aching feet. She was meeting her husband at the party and thought of canceling but carried on.

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 The American arrived at the party with sore feet, no energy and a great need for a glass of wine. Everyone at the party was French although many could speak English. She decided, while sitting there resting her feet, while about 20 or so people milled about and talked, that she much preferred a dinner with four to six people around a table where talk was easy and the noise of a party didn’t make it difficult to understand English conversation, much less French.

The host of the American told her that a couple who lived in New York City were arriving. It turned out that, yes, they did live in NYC most of the time with three to four trips to Paris each year, but they weren’t Americans. He was from the Netherlands but had French citizenship, she was Italian but raised in West Africa and also, the American learned, a widow at a young age before she met her present husband. She told the American that she was twenty years older than her husband but she certainly didn’t look it, which the American told her. At first the American thought that they weren’t very friendly-she had sort of jumped at them like a friendly puppy when they arrived, yakking in English, babbling about how much she liked NYC-but later the American was sitting by her and heard about how they were in NYC when September 11th occurred and she said that it had changed her life forever. She no longer made long range plans, she had lost some of her dreams, she and her husband always had an emergency bag packed with extra cash if needed and plans of where to meet should they be separated if something happened and she never let her husband leave home without a kiss and telling him that she loved him. As she talked about it all, her eyes filled and a tear ran down her cheek.

 The American grazed at the table set up with ham, chacuterie, pickles, cheese and bread and drank a few glasses of wine. The host has three very handsome sons, one of which had married an American, and it was fun to talk to her. The young girl-25 years old-had made the jacket she was wearing and hoped to someday be a designer. The American thought her jacket was darling and very stylish and that the young girl was certainly in the right place to get something happening in the clothing world.

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 Finally, the American found her husband and said she had to go home, that she was totally out of energy and it wasn’t even midnight yet. They walked outside into the cold air, down the blocks to the metro and finally made it home to their welcoming bed. The American thought that next year was going to be a good year, for both her and the wine sitting even now in barrels, doing their secret work, storing the taste of summer in the purple depths that would be tasted years from now with pleasure and the drinkers would hold the glass up to look at the color and say, “It was a very good year.”

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7 thoughts to “The American”

  1. Linda, such an interesting story, I don’t know if I would have made all that effort for a glass of wine. The last photo, where is it taken from, is that the Arc de Triumphe behind it?

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