Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Caroline and Her Stories

My housemom, Caroline, is fantastic, as I’ve mentioned before. She is very relaxed, and anything goes with her. She feels very strongly that it is her duty to speak to me as much as possible in French. Which she does. Now, I expected my French vocabulary to increase due to communicating with a family daily, but the stories Caroline tells me just blow my mind and I learn more than just words. We are just chatting away when I come home from school or at dinner and she drops one philosophical bombshell after another. When she became sick, she had to quit working. She references this period of her life often and as awful as it sounds to say, you can really tell that her illness formed her relaxed, calm personality. Caroline is the type of person who takes something like a serious illness and ponders over it to understand a certain beauty in it or come up with a new outlook. When I say “relaxed,” I do not mean “inactive” because Caroline is always up to something. She attends conventions and concerts. She reads and dances up a storm.

Here are some examples of the crazy stories Caroline tells me:

-She has explained to me in great detail the lives of Caravaggio, Lafayette, Lady Grace Drummond-Hay, Max Ernst and Bosch (she loves surrealist and fantastique artists because they combine the good and bad parts of humanity in a graceful manner).

-She told me that she believes people have to take adequate time to relax. She says that you can’t always act. If you do, life will always be a battle. Sometimes you have to wait and life will give you what you are missing.

-Another Caroline quote :“Faith is tied to love.” She does not necessarily believe in God, but she believes in a higher spirit that rests among us. When people believe in something higher than themselves, then the will be generous and kind towards others.

-Speaking of spirituality, Caroline has a concise personal definition of a soul. She followed her definition by asking me if I have my own personal definition of what a soul is. This was over milkcoffee one morning.

-Shortly after learning Caroline’s defintion of a soul, she showed me a picture of her soul that she was inspired to draw. She had never drawn before and has since tried, but cannot. It was a beautiful picture that looked like a fountain with lots of vines and birds and flowers.

-She tells me that she loves sharing the stories that she hears because she believes in this Asian proverb that states that a person’s duty is to spread a lot of seeds. It is not our duty to go back and see if those seeds took to the ground and formed a plant, but we must spread as many seeds as we are given.

-She is very concerned about my adjustment to France. She drove me the route to my tram stop for school one day. Then she drew me a map of the route complete with arrows and xs on the streets I should not turn on. Then she drove me through the route again.

-God only knows how we came across this topic during dinner one day but, she told me that when her son was 15-16 years old, she found a pornographic picture that some Algerian kid had given him at school. She considered the picture misogynistic and anti-American. So, the next day she bought him an artistic photography book of portraits of naked women. She told him that it is fine to look at naked women, but it is not ok to have misogynistic anti-American photographs. I hope she didn’t notice me picking up my chin from the table. I was in disbelief that she bought her 15 year old son a book of naked lady pictures.

-She has told me her entire life story. She grew up with lovely parents and a sister. Her father was a gym teacher and in the summers, her parents organized a summer day camp type deal at the beach. She loved it because she got to swim, fish, and participate in the sandcastle building competitions. In the winters she got to ski near her grandmothers. She was very shy as a child, but she thinks if she hadn’t been so shy, she could have been a clothing designer. I think she is correct. She is always rocking cute outfits with lots of colors. (not very French)

-She also recounted her mother’s life story. Her mother was an orphan. Her adoptive mother did not like her. At a young age she peaced out of her adoptive parents home and headed for Paris. Then the war came. She was not able to leave her house during the war because even though she was not Jewish, she looked Jewish. Caroline’s mother was starving at the end of occupied Paris and only weighed 38 kg. (about 83lbs.) Her mother always loved Americans. This is due to the fact that a black American soldier carried her across a bridge when she was 38 kg so that she could get some food. He also read her palm and told her that she would have 2 daughters and get caught in a fire. Before Caroline and her sister were born, Caroline’s mother lived in a house that caught on fire. She got burned really badly up to her knees because she went back in the house to rescue some children that were still in there. While this may sound like a movie we watched together after dinner, it was just our dinner conversation.

-Just this evening at dinner she told me that she believes men are similar to plants. We are like cacti. We cannot be overwatered. Only when we are missing something or have a need, do we produce flowers.

Needless to say dinner never fails to entertain me.


  1. What entertaining dinners! I hope to meet Caroline and her family.

  2. Obviously, I don't know her yet I LOVE her!! What a great opportunity you have to learn lessons of the French culture but of life itself.