Au pair girl in Paris is as close as I ever came to having a daughter. She was 7 when I met her first: lion-hearted, demanding, strong-willed, and cheerful. However, her parents expected her to be well-mannered, neat, quiet, and cute. She had to wear dresses and white stockings and sit next to me on a bench at the playground. Ha! She would not. And I would not make her. Instead, I would wash those white stockings by hand the minute we came home so we would both stay out of trouble.
I would knit hats and mittens for her and her brother, we would listen to fairy-tales on records (yes, records), and I guess all three of us were sad when I left after a year.
As a teenager she would call every now and then (mostly when in trouble with her parents), later we lost contact. Occasionally, I would talk to her mother if only to learn that more often than not the no-longer-girl chose living the hard way … Everything that could go wrong would go wrong.
Facebook made us find each other again, and the summer before last I went to see her for a few days. Since then we’ve been skyping and sending messages. I’ve knitted another hat for her. We talk a lot, we get along well. Somehow she has not changed. The little girl – lion-hearted, demanding, strong-willed, and cheerful – is still there. Regardless of everything she has been through.
Last week she told me she has finally found someone to share life with. She’s getting married and she wants me – her “jeune fille au pair”- to be there. Jeune fille means young girl. None of us is young any more. At least not in years.
They will get married in Southern France. A long table outside of her husband-to-be’s farm. A hippie wedding, fun and colorful. I am knitting a wedding scarf for her for when the night cools down – a soft hug made of mohair and silk.