Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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I Used to Go to France

We were on the top of the world.  Encapsulated in a tiny pod of yellow the three of us watched the lights get close and farther, closer and farther as we swayed in our make-believe rocket ship.  Sea-shanties echoed across the port, if you could call what that crazy Romanian chick in her red sparkly dress was singing sea-shanties.  Charlotte, in her French-accented, somewhat broken English, told a story constantly interrupted by our laughter.  She told a humorous horror story about our Ferris wheel breaking and the three of us falling to our deaths and the next day in the newspapers it would tell of the Englishman, Frenchie and American who died together in a tragic accident.  The Englishman, Ben, turned to me and smiled, and I smiled back.  After Charlotte went back to the boat that night we would lean against one of the warehouses and kiss while drunken French people made rude comments in the darkness. 
The three of us had been hanging out all day, along with Ben’s two friends Tom and Harry.  We had paddled around the port in the boys’ dingy from their sailboat and had gotten called onto what looked like a South American river cruiser by some guys who thought Charlotte and I were much older then we were.  I climbed the mast on the English boys’ boat and pretended to reach out for the sail on our own ship, right next-door and so tantalizingly close I felt I could jump to it.  There were throngs of people always milling about, and songs in so many different languages I couldn’t keep count.
We were all together at a festival in a port on the Northern coast of France called Chant-de-Marin and there were all sorts of groups there.  English a-cappella, French brass bands, crazy Romanian and a Polish group called Banana Boat that everyone loved.  I was there with a family that I often stayed with in Paris during vacation who decided to go sailing during the time I was there.  It had been two beautiful summer weeks before arriving at the festival and this first permanent setting was gritty and beautiful.
Amongst the brilliant bands and puppet shows, I found and followed a beautiful barefoot boy who spoke a language I had never heard before, trying to capture his languid dreads on camera.  I watched small blonde women and old wispy men capture the brilliance of the water, sailboats and Ferris wheel in watercolor.  I gaped in awe at a mechanical horse and accompanying band as it made its way around the port.  In this whirlwind of wonder, none of which I had expected and all of which I was overjoyed with, Charlotte and I befriended the boys from the neighboring vessel.  They were young and English and so boy-scouty.  We got funnel cake together and sat on the edge of the dock together.  I made all the boys squirm in fear and Charlotte laugh as I shimmed out on the giant anchoring rope, pretending to be an ungraceful tightrope walker.  For three days we were best friends, Tom, Ben, Harry, Charlotte and I.  The four English speakers poked fun of the one French speaker, the boys ‘saved’ us from seedy older ones and I smiled bigger then the moon.   The festival was a whirlpool, a beautiful cacophony.  I fell in love with that weekend and with sailing and with English boys and with my French family.  I could have lived that way till I died and had the music follow me.