19 November 2010

Until We Meet Again: The Weight of This Day

Am I projecting onto the rest of the world?

It seemed that everywhere I looked, people were ready to hibernate.  Windy, chilly, overcast days will do that to people, and to other living beings.  

In the ladies' room at my main job, I saw Debra, who has a job of some sort in the administrative offices.  I don't mean to disparage her or her work; I simply forget what, exactly, what her title is or what she does.  Then again, she's not the only one I've so mistreated in my memory.

Anyway, she said she noticed the weariness, too.  "I think people are feeling the weight of the world," she suggested.  "You know, with the economy and all of the other things that are happening, people are stressed out."

I thought about it.  "Well," I mused, "now we know why the 1930's are referred to as 'The Great Depression.'"

She tapped her chin.  "I never thought about that before."

"I didn't, either, until now."

In addition to the weight of the world, everyone seemed to have his or her personal burdens to a greater degree than usual.  Again, I might be projecting:  Having just lost a friend, I feel the weight of time and the even heavier load of ephemerality.  

Today Josette, one of Janine's sisters--whom I never before met-- wrote an e-mail to me.  I had written my feelings and impressions of Janine, and sent them to Marie-Jeanne and Diana, who sent them to Josette.  She told me that she read my message to at the service held for Janine in Pere Lachaise and everyone, including her, was moved by it.  That surprises me; after all, I was just expressing my feeling for two mutual friends.  And I was worried about how they'd take it, as I wrote it in French.  

I am fluent, or at least competent, in the language.  However, there are still some nuances and subtleties that I haven't got down, and possibly never will.  But I wrote my memory of Janine in French because, for one, she was so quintessentially French, in the most exasperating and delightful ways.  Even more to the point, at least for me, is that in my mind she represents France itself, or at least my experience of it.  Plus, I owe a good part of the skill I have in the language to her.

On some level--a selfish and solipsistic one, perhaps--I wonder whether I am going to "lose" France and Paris now that I've lost Janine.  I expect to go back some day, but of course it won't be the same.

Here is what I wrote:

Janine en fait le hereusement pour beaucoup des gens, incluis moi.  Elle en portait une force vitale de vie, et elle etait toujours genereuse.  Ma vie est meilleur apres j'en fait la conaissance de Nine.

Aujour d'hui, je suis tres desolee.  Et je veux faire une consolation pour tu, pour vous, pour tout les amis et famille de Janine.

Je n'en puis oublier la journee a Brighton Beach avec Nine, Marie Jeanne, Diana et Michelle.  C'etait une jour de hereusement pour moi.  Ma vie en fait changer, et Janine m'aider comprend beaucoup des choses.

J'espere reconnaitre (ou connaitre) bientot.  Jusqu'a cet temps, je veux faire assistance pour vous, si vous desirez.

Here's a rough translation:

{Janine brought much happiness to many people, including me.  She was a life force and was always generous.  My life is better for having met Nine. ("Nine" is her nickname, it's pronounced like "Nina.")

Today I am sorrowful.  And I want to console you, and all of Janine's family and friends.

I will not forget the day Nine, Marie Jeanne, Diana, Michele and I went to Brighton Beach. It was a very happy day for me.  My life was changing, and Janine was helping me to understand many things.

I hope that we will meet, or meet again.  Until then, I want to help you in any way I can.}

Josette says that she's planning to come here with Marie-Jeanne and Michele, possibly in the summer, and that she wants to meet me.  


Corey K said...

Wow. May it be a wonderful healing experience for all of you.

My condolences, Justine.

Corey K

Justine Valinotti said...

Thank you, Corey. You're so kind.