Through a cloud of Gauloises smoke, four men silently watched me as I made my way through the empty cafe to a table by the window. The waitress threw down a menu and stood, one hip cocked, impatiently waiting for my order.
I nervously scanned the handwritten menu, looking for anything familiar.
“Jambon,” I stammered, my brain registering a flicker of recognition from a long-since-forgotten French class. “Jambon, s’il vous plait,” I ventured. The waitress sauntered off, and within minutes, served me what was to be my plat du jour, for every “jour” that week. A ham sandwich.
Oh, and did I mention, I hate ham?
It all began with a crumpled sheet of instructions and an invitation. I was 19 and going to live abroad for the first time — and not just anywhere, but in Paris. The city of love and culture, of Yves Saint Laurent, Gertrude Stein and the Louvre. It was about as far away from my tiny village in Ireland as I could imagine. I dreamed of strolling along the Seine, having intense conversations with moody young Frenchmen named Pierre. Of leaving red lipstick stains on wine glasses and casually extinguishing cigarette butts on coffee saucers while listening to lovers quarrel on cafe verandas. In short, I’d watched far too many French films. It was going to be exactly like that, right?
Pretty soon it was clear that my journey from sheltered Irish country girl to French temptress would have a long way to go. Step one was just to make it out of the airport.
To say I was an unseasoned traveler was an understatement. In fact, this was only my third time out of Ireland. But I had always dreamed of traveling the world, and so when a model scout had come to Dublin three weeks previously and offered me a contract, I jumped at the chance. At the time, I was a first-year theater student, and modeled on the side for extra spending money. And now here I was, lost in the vast expanse of Charles de Gaulle airport, my excitement quickly turning to anxiety.
After circling the concourse multiple times, I approached an official-looking woman and asked for directions to the bus station. She rattled off instructions in French and eventually noticing my blank stare, briskly marched me to an exit. It took me forever to find the right bus, but somehow, an hour later, I found myself ringing the doorbell of the Ford Models agency.
My first month was much harder than I expected. The constant stream of rejection from castings started to wear me down. I got lost constantly. No one understood my halting, embarrassing attempts at speaking French. The beautiful apartment the agency had placed me in was owned and occupied by a rather creepy Portuguese man, who was far too eager to befriend his young tenants. I would sneak in at the end of a long day’s work, feet blistered, and try to make it into my room before he could insist I join him and his friends for dinner.
As usual, things never turn out quite the way we expect. One autumn morning, racked with homesickness, I strolled toward Les Halles and stood in the shadow of the St.-Eustache church. I turned, and a familiar name caught my eye: Quigley’s Point — an Irish pub! As the door swung open, a chorus of shouts and laughter enveloped me and lured me inside. My total immersion in French culture could start again tomorrow, but right now ordering a beer and a packet of crisps was just what I needed.
Toute l'histoire ici : https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/03/arts/television/caitriona-balfe-outlander.html?smid=tw-share
Traduction à venir...