The hyphen is there in the title to indicate that I said that in Canadian English (“pro-gress,” not “praw-gress”). I hear the Canadian pronunciation in my head sometimes now, even though I don’t yet say it out loud.
I am making progress here. I’m actually doing much better than I thought I would. In the beginning (doesn’t that phrase sound epic? like there should be some drums or other “big” music playing in the background? not epic in real life), I cried a lot more. I cried after grocery shopping. I cried about Q leaving. I cried about feeling like I didn’t fit in Hell, I cried about anything. Now…well, I cry, but lately it’s been happy tears, and that’s far better, if still a bit disconcerting for someone who usually views such “girly” displays of emotion as a bit of a weakness.
Everything is still difficult. I had trouble paying for gas on Sunday. I stopped at a Petro Can and filled up. I went inside and waited in line. I indicated I would pay by debit card. And then I struggled to communicate that the $25 the attendant was trying to charge me was substantially less than the nearly $70 I owed him. It was one of those moments that would have DEFINITELY resulted in tears earlier in my Quebec stay. I was holding up the line, feeling stupid for being unable to communicate even the basics. However limited and inadequate my French may be, though, I do have a few tools in my arsenal. I don’t know how to say “sixty-nine” in French (and yes, you’re probably my friend if you’re reading this, so you’re probably making dirty jokes in your head…asshole), but I do know how to say “six, neuf” (six, nine), and eventually I was able to pay the correct amount. Instead of crying as I left, from the frustration of the language barrier and the embarrassment of not being able to communicate as well as the average three-year-old in this region, I just sort of shook my head and smiled softly. It’s going to be a long road, but I’m on it, with no choice but to keep on going.
Even if I have trouble with the simplest of interactions now, I’m much more comfortable than I was at first. I managed to go shopping for a formal dress by myself! That’s a difficult and unpleasant task in the U.S., when I speak the language as well (or, in may cases, much better!) than those around me. I’m also carrying about 20-25 pounds more than I like to, exacerbating the dress shopping hatred. Despite this, I was able to find a lovely dress for an upcoming ball in Montreal. I even had FUN doing it, since it was sort of like shopping charades, and the lady at the dress shop where I bought my dress was an absolute joy. (Disclaimer: I did have a bit of greatly appreciated translation assistance from a friend at the very end of the process – “pro-cess,” not “praw-cess” – but I could have completed the task on my own without assistance. I COULDN’T have relayed as eloquently how much I appreciated the enthusiasm, positive attitude, and effort put in by the dress shop’s owner without my translator’s assistance, which was a lovely bit of help to receive. “Merci beaucoup” just doesn’t do justice to my feelings.)
I start French classes this month, and I just learned there are at least three more American wives up here in this area. The strange has already become the mundane. As time marches forward, as is its tendency, the mundane will become the familiar and the endearing. I have DECIDED it will be so, and anyone who has run up against this will when it’s firmly set on something will know that means it will have no choice but to be so.
I have some things on my calendar for a change. Life isn’t running at the speed or size it used to, but it’s speeding up a little, growing larger by small increments. Sure now that I’ll survive this, I am beginning to suspect I may find a way to thrive.
P.S. I may have a few more Q Parking pics to post soon. Too lazy to do it tonight, but I’ve a few gems!