By Susan Dromey Heeter,
Julia Nadon and I have been amis, friends for decades.
We met in Holland when we were both in our twenties, single teachers looking for adventure in Europe and teaching at the same NATO school.
We both had dark hair, loads of energy, silly senses of humor. Julia, myself and a British colleague once drove to Austria to go skiing. We imagined ourselves on a talk show entitled, “Not Beyond the Car” and stories were told, secrets shared – and at one point we all sung our own National Anthems as an intro to the program.
That drive felt about fifteen minutes though it lasted eight hours; Julia learned about moi and I got to know her through and through. We’ve been amis ever since.
Julia introduced me to poutine, to bilingualism, to Quebec.
This week I muse joyfully on all things and people French Canadian, including my new colleague Claudia, who reminds me so much of Julia I feel like Julia is within my zip code.
Claudia is entirely energetic – funny in both French AND English and well, as any French Canadian in my mind is: simply effortlessly chic.
Claudia sews her own clothes. She wears dresses created from fabrics so beautiful they could be framed. She effortlessly glides from English to French from French to English. Claudia is tres chic.
And, let’s face it, to be bilingual is astonishingly cool.
As I write this column, I have Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on video answering questions in French which were asked in English. Ooo la la, is that Prime Minister ever cute – and even cuter with his sleeves rolled up and hair so magnificently thick. And then speaking French? Trudeau is astonishingly attractive – and does it effortlessly and with aplomb.
Merci, Mr. Trudeau. Je’taime. I do believe I’ll watch more of vous than of that cheeto we’ve got on the television down here. Merci for being there, merci.
And back to Julia. Julia’s mom was from the southern part of the U.S., her Dad Canadian. Julia spoke both French and English in her little town of Montebello; the kids in her neighborhood who spoke just a bit of English would ride their bikes by her house saying the only words they knew well…”Kentucky Fried Chicken! Kentucky Fried Chicken!”
When my Mom was suffering from pancreatic cancer, I took a journey to visit with Julia – we met at our half way in Burlington, Vermont. Julia’s mom had died from cancer; my dear friend knew my pain and provided comfort only a friend who has suffered the same loss can give.
As we drank in a lovely café in Burlington, some unruly kids were next to us disrupting our moments of quiet conversation. We laughed and spoke about them in the little Dutch we’d picked up in Holland, knowing they’d have no idea the insults we’d hurled.
Language is power.
And merci, bilingual friends for sharing your culture, your words, your heritage avec moi. Merci. I muse joyfully on language – the power, the intrigue, and, of course, Justin Trudeau.
Susan Dromey Heeter, a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white, writes “Joyful Musings” for InDepthNH.org. Dromey Heeter is a secondary Spanish Teacher at Dover High School and the mother of two teenage daughters. Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards. She also writes about thrift shopping and all things frugal in a column called “Budget Vogue” for the New Hampshire Union Leader.