There was this French Teacher

Cold Thursday nights in late-May Amsterdam are a goodtime for watching the LOST season finale and taking a stroll down memory lane.

Back when I worked for the Dharma Initiative….. ha, just kidding; the internet does not need more TV blog posts. I’ll start again.

Back in 2001, right around the time the WTC towers fell, I was enrolled as a happy night student at New York City’s Alliance Française. This is the French cultural center and language school that you can find in most major cities all over the world, funded by the French government, I do believe. I was there to make use of my favorite language, after my time in southern france and all my new francophone friends in Lisbon, I needed something to give me a place to have conversations and improve my weak spots. The alliance seemed like the perfect place and of course I hoped to meet some great people there or a nice girl… either is always a welcome thing.

So as the rubble was sorted through, the country was going anthrax crazy, and the government prepared to bomb Afghanistan, I was making the commute to class and sitting for a few hours each week chit chatting away and enjoying the vibe. But time passed quickly. Most of the other classmates, especially the nice girls, didn’t seem preoccupied with hanging out with me, which I grew to accept.

Instead however, I did make friends with someone else in the class: the teacher. Gilles was from Paris, if I remember correctly. He was a calm and hip dude in his early 30’s (i think) who seemed to be caught in between loving new york, but being sick of the US. I’d hang a little longer after class and sometimes we would chat. I remember he liked my plan to move to Portugal… he was a big supporter of it, and expressed that he intended to move back to France or Europe at some point.

Thats pretty much how it went. Semester ended. I moved to Portugal. Gilles kept in touch… infrequent emails saying hello. Still in New York. Still plotting his exit. And well, you know how it goes… time passes..

And then today I got an email: A familiar name announces a new book; a novel. He probably doesn’t remember that I’m on his mass email list. Still, seeing the name in my email brought back good memories. My time as a night student, working on my french, while the city wrapped itself in American flags, and the government bombed a country to dust.