We had a favorite little crepe place near our hotel in Paris and a favorite little waitress who was from the UK but living in Paris to improve her French. On one visit she twisted the arm of the proprietor to have his picture taken.
“Very French,” she added.
She politely introduced us after speaking to him for a few minutes on the other side of the little restaurant.
We “bon-joured” and “hello-ed.”
“Where are you visiting from?” he asked with careful, considered English.
No look of recognition; in fact, brows furrowed and his shoulders rose.
“A state right above California,” I said, along with hands gestures that seemed to roughly place my home for him.
“Ahh yes, California,” he said, nodding now.
Everyone, it seems, has heard of California.
“San Francisco,” he added, smiling now, “San Francisco is in California.”
“Yes. Have you traveled there?”
“No. But San Francisco is a beautiful city. Like Paris only San Francisco has the sea.” He sighed. A universally recognizable sigh of reverie.
Then he smiled.
We had a short conversation; the most you can comfortably have with such a language barrier. It was nothing more than a snippet really. And I snapped this photo.
But since our short exchange, there’s not a time that I visit San Francisco or pass through the huge, lovely city on the Pacific that this Frenchman’s comparison of somewhere far from his home doesn’t come to mind.
San Francisco. It’s just like Paris, only it has the sea.