French Lessons: Time

Talking about age: In French, when you talk about how old you are, you don’t say, I am 28 years old. You say, I have 28 years. J’ai 28 ans. The years are something you have.

Talking about years: In French, there are two versions of the word year: an (masculine) and annee (feminine). But you don’t determine the use based on whether you need a masculine word or a feminine word. You use an if you are talking about a specific year or date, and you use annee if you are talking about everything that filled a year — if you want to say, it was a good year, you’d say c’etait une bonne annee, because you are talking about everything that filled the year and made it a good one. I think of it as: it describes a whole experience, not just a point in time, and so you need those extra e‘s to hold the weight.

It’s the same thing with a day — un jour is a day, straight and simple, but when you wish someone a bonne journee, you’re referring to everything that fills it.

I visited Paris for the first time on July 17, when I was 16 (when I had 16 years). I studied in the south of France for two months when I was 20. I’ve passed through on countless layovers; I used almost all of my meager vacation days to come here for a week by myself when I was 26.

Exactly a year ago, on March 3, I moved to Paris for three months on a tourist visa. At the time, I’d thought that maybe that was what all my other visits had been leading up to: three months living in Paris, probably the best I was ever going to get.

On November 13, I moved here permanently, and on March 15, I’ll finally receive my official resident visa.

Time speeds up in places you love, so I am trying to slow down and consciously appreciate everything about my life here. It seems unreal to me that I’ve only been here permanently for four months when I think about everything that has occurred in those four months: I moved here with three suitcases and no apartment; now I have an almost-fully furnished apartment, a regular grocery store, a regular bar, a regular commute, a few friends, a library membership, a regular volunteering position at said library, and a few weekend trips planned.

Ce sera une bonne annee.

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