Dear France, I Love You

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This right here was my first real craft. In sixth grade, my math teacher, who was also my social studies teacher, assigned this project to the class, as a combined exercise in using graph paper and studying geography. We each selected a country we were interested in, then drew it out on graph paper. then learned to cross-stitch. The local newspaper came and did a story on it, and they included a picture of me stitching away on France. It was my very first craft of any kind, and my mother framed it and saved it for me.

It’s clear to me now that I used threads from different dye lots and I crossed some of my x-es the wrong way, but I still love this project. The colors I chose (I’ve always loved purple, and do you see the little blue x representing Paris?), the earnest 11 year-old efforts represented in the stitches, my little block letter initials and date), the creativity of the teacher, but most of all, the subject matter. I can remember how, as I stitched, I dreamed of going there some day. In first grade, I went to a school where learning French was part of the curriculum for all students, and ever since then, France has held a special place in my heart. As a sixth grade girl, the idea of France filled me with visions of culture, and art, and music, and fashion, and cafes, and, of course, romance. Now, one of my own sixth graders is taking French, and I can see the beginnings of a love of language and of travel taking root in his heart. As a family, we have been dreaming together of a trip to France; we have every hope and intention of getting there some day.

But today, there is only longing, and sadness, and prayers. Dear France, dear Paris, I love you.

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