March 31, 2009: Most days (not all, but most) I feel like if you were to put the world on mute, you would think people are all the same. It seems normal to assume we are not the same. However, without language barriers and the passions that we support via language, we look the same, we have the same gestures, we tell stories with the same facial expressions, we laugh the same. If you got on the bus here in Caen and had ear plugs in, you might close and open your eyes and think you are riding a CTA bus in Chicago. If you got on the tube in London and plugged your nose, you might think you were riding the El in Chicago. If you walked down the city streets here in Caen you would see homeless people asking for money, drivers bumping between two cars as they try to parallel park, and people crowding into McDonalds. And if you watched TV you would expect to hear English being spoken if you took the TV off mute, as they look like anyone you would see doing a Mr. Clean or Eggo's commerical in the U.S.
Tonight, I had the wonderful experience of seeing the orchestra, compliments of a friend who could not use her ticket. Sitting at the concert I got to thinking about how really, we are all so much alike, as I watched the people pile in with a passion for music, the musicians walk onto stage with an obvious passion for their calling. I am not going to tell you that I am an avid orchestra, symphony or opera follower which is why I went to this event. Truthfully, I went to see something new, to get out of the house and to get some time to myself. And all three I got. What I wasn't expecting to leave with was a new appreciation for music and an urge to continue to attend these musical events here in Caen and elsewhere.
As a child, I always told myself I would never like classical music or opera or anything that had a violin playing in the song. Then John Couger and Indigo Girls had to go and add violins to their music, so I broke one of my rules. Next, I began to listen to Mozart in college to help myself concentrate while studying and to help myself fall asleep - one more personal rule broken. And now that I am older, I realize that Apple Bottom Jeans and Cyclones are fun to sing about, but I need more from my music. Watching these musicians tonight, as they sang songs and played ancient instruments from the 12th and 13th centuries, originating here in Normandy, France it sparked my interest yet again. One guy was playing a harp that looked to be 400 years old. His age was probably 25? And he played three other instruments that looked equally as old. Imagine the passion he has for music, to study instruments that no one within 4 countries probably knows how to play. The other two musicians were singing these songs that are centuries old and you just imagine them jumping into character and never jumping out because they are so good, so convincing. Like if the two of them were married, they would speak in tongues from long ago and sing love songs and waltz while making couscous for dinner. Then, the comfort these musicians look to have while holding their instruments, the fluid and flawless notes that are heard are amazing. I bet they feel the same way that a tennis player feels when he/she grasps their racket in just the right way or the way a swimmer can feel that their goggles are on perfectly. It just feels right. And if you removed the language that was sang, it felt like something that I could hear anywhere in the world.
After school today, I took the girls to the park. I had brought two soccer balls and a jump rope. Not much, I know, but you would be surprised what three children can create with just those three items! They played for at least an hour and finally we had to go home for dinner. But the last game they ended with was Red Light, Green Light. An old favorite of all of us, right? And again, I just kept thinking how it is all the same. C'est la meme chose. Caen, France or Valparaiso, Indiana, all kids are playing Red Light, Green Light.
Guess what tomorrow is? Wednesday, again! Ella was home sick today with an ear ache and cough. I was hoping that tomorrow she would be better, but as I sit her typing I can hear her coughing loudly and getting worse. If she is up for it, we will visit a local farm. We will be able to walk freely while viewing how they make apple juice and cider and pet some animals. Originally we were going to Juno Beach, but the wind will be in full force tomorrow making it cold and miserable so we will save that for another day. In the afternoon, Ella has a birthday party to attend. Her first social engagement! Sick kids, birthday parties...c'est la meme chose!
C'est la meme chose is one of Andrew's favorite french phrases to say. I think he may have made it up, piecing together this and that from his french lessons. Or maybe it is a legit phrase and it is just the way he says it but I laugh when I hear him say it so it has become a favorite saying of mine. And meaning to us, it is all the same...
Pictured above: The orchestra performance from tonight at the Musee de Normandie; the girls playing Red Light, Green Light tonight at the park.