(upon observation of all the events that happen and continue in France. I lived in Paris from 1984-85 while taking French classes at the Sorbonne. During this time, I stayed for the summer with a widow who lived outside the city of Paris in a small French village. Every morning, before I left for Paris, she send me on my way with a prayer. I think of the simplicity and goodness of the people in this small village outside of Paris and wonder if this life still exists)

Every morning, she descended the narrow staircase entering the kitchen to sit at the old wood kitchen table where her bread was covered with a linen napkin and nearby was a pot of strong black coffee with scalded milk. A sugar bowl sat nearby and the kitchen was deathly silent. She sensed the movement of Nana in the background hovering nearby clacking her black rosary beads and softly praying.

Silently, she breathed in and wondered how her day would evolve. As she poured her coffee, Nana entered the kitchen “Bonjour” and then she asked her in English, “Ok. You are ok.” Yes, Tamara assured her smiling. She had found her lodging through the University study abroad program. Although she was keen to spend most of the day outside in Paris exploring after her morning classes, she enjoyed the brief repetitive morning routine in the small French house just outside the City of Paris. Tamara had been told that the owner of the house, a widow, was much attuned to being a Catholic and wanted a Catholic boarder. As it turned out, Tamara was Catholic as she had been raised Catholic and she was familiar with the litany and routine Nana inhabited. Somewhere in her background, Tamara remembered her own history and memories of Catholic church, her brother’s attending Catholic school in New York, and of course, her mother’s rosary beads and her allegiance to Saint Jude when times were rough.

Nana asked “May I pray with you?” Tamara nodded and Nana skidded across the floor with her head drawn toward her chest and clasped Tamara’s hands….her well-worn knuckles bruising against the young trusting naiviete of Tamara still very young 22 year old hands. Silently, Nana asked that Tamara be kept safe from danger and allowed to travel freely without incident. Afterwards, Tamara expelled a shaky sign of relief and quickly finished her coffee. “I will see you tonight,” she promised Nana and raced toward the door. As she rounded the corner of the small village circle passing the small concrete waterfall, she marveled at the simple peacefulness of the village noticing the bakery opening its doors and a few people wandering about. Other than that, people were preparing to board the train headed to Paris. It was quiet here and in the heavy political discussions of which Tamara was privy to at Nana’s house, she knew they worried about outsiders who caused anxiety and some paranoia among the established French. She has been told to be careful of the Algerian community while she wandered Paris. Tamara’s mind was not focused on danger this morning, but rather on learning French at the Sorbonne and developing some friendships inside the classroom. She was thinking of a cafe discussion afterwards near the Sorbonne with discussions about life and then again about nothing of importance…simply the moment. For a girl from a small town, living the year in Paris was a heady proposition. But yet, she knew and appreciated Nana. Obviously, she was older and with more life experience was more aware of all the dangers which existed in and around the environs of Paris.

Or maybe, Tamara thought, she was over reacting and being overprotective like her mom from New York City. I will be fine. She enjoyed staring at the billboards and watching the variety of commuters going to Paris. The day was beginning.

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