It’s 34 degrees in Manhattan and we are all over the glory of the changing seasons and the pure stone cold chill this enduring winter has wrought. As recovery strategy, I did a little retail therapy this week and bought a Nike jacket that is warm and casual and goes with everything.
My seventeen year old daughter doesn’t like it and informed me this morning, “Mom, you’re not cool enough for that.”
When I inform her I wasn’t actually trying to be cool, I just wanted something that wasn’t a long dark heavy coat or a short bright white down jacket to wear in this endless winter…she didn’t care. She just walked down the hall with a little exasperated huff signaling, I would never understand.
I do actually understand a lot. Especially today. Especially as I place her socks in Ziploc bags, cushion her new camera between her three favorite Madewell sweaters, and wish I didn’t have to throw in my favorite brush as she’s lost hers. She’s leaving for a French exchange to go live with a family that I have never met. As crazy as this sounds, I don’t even know their name. It is of course listed on a sheet with thirteen other families hosting kids from her high school, but I didn’t lock it into my frazzled working mom brain yet.
I just found this photo of Chloe and I in Paris when she was eight years old after we had dressed up in one of those corny 19th century costume booths on the middle floor of the Eiffel Tower. I spent that trip showing her how I loved that city, how I fell in love like 8 times in that city, trying so hard to make my Parisian pleasures translate to someone in third grade. Look at how joyful she was in this photo, and as a Mom I love how much she needed me to hold her and how she allowed it.
I look at that photo and wonder how a decade has magically turned this little girl into a young woman who is ready to experience Paris without her mom, to live with a family whose name I didn’t even bother to remember.
For the first time, on her own, she is going to go to cafes, discover her favorite shops in back craggy streets that, knowing Paris, will still be there to show her daughter, and eat raspberry tarts in hip, cool new places I’ve never heard of that she’ll call her own. I’m not giving her a list, I’m not telling her what to do, I’m just hoping she explores the gem that is Paris on terms that make her more curious and crave more. No translation needed for that emotion.