I went to France for the first time in the fall several months after graduating from high school to live with my older sister and her French husband in the suburb of Paris, a small town on the Orge River with a direct train to Paris. I enrolled at a language school in Paris for four months and spoke strictly French at home using the familiar tu form with my sister and the formal vous with my brother-in-law. I learned how to use the knife and fork correctement the French way and spent family time on Sundays helping out with the cooking or pruning the many fruit trees in the extra long backyard slightly wider than the house and extending away from it in a narrow rectangle. My sister took me to my first specialty cheese shop in this town and I tasted my first French wines from the cellar my brother-in-law kept where bottles of wine were neatly labeled and stocked according to how soon they could be opened, some within the year and others within two years, and so on all the way up to ten years or more. He bought his wines directly from vineyards on the Loire River in bulk and transferred the wine from barrels into different bottles and labeled them himself with the help of his father and my sister. I didn't get to participate in this annual event, having arrived a little late in the season. On fhe fourth or the fifth day after my arrival, I almost fell asleep at the dinner table, probably due to the accumulation of residual alcohol in my blood over several days because I wasn't used to having wine regularly at evening meals. I remember feeling embarrased about not finishing my glass of wine and having to excuse myself from the table. I had not started to date yet and wasn't allowed to date because my dad wanted to make sure I came home and started college instead of falling in love and permanently settling in France like my sister had. However, I learned to like France well enough to return there after graduating from college to study French at the University of Paris for a year and stayed for several years, long enough to get to know Paris and the Paris region well. I dabbled in art photography and learned to taste wines at a winetasting school in the 7th arrondissement where it was perfectly fine to spit wine in order to conserve one's palate for tasting several wines in a row and be completely honest about one's impressions. The aesthetic pursuit and the discipline involved in winetasting reminded me a lot of the Japanese tea ceremony which I had studied for one summer previously in Japan and I had a very enjoyable time developing my olfactory memory and perusing books in French and in English related to winetasting and viticulture. I thought I might go into winemaking or pursue journalism and write serious articles on viticulture and the wine industry but somehow didn't go down that path, although I may still someday decide to write about the many interesting experiences I had as an apprentice winetaster in Paris such as when I participated in the blind tasting event organized by the Gault & Millau magazine. Paris will always be, for me, a city of endless discovery, where I didn't mind getting stuck for a while despite the pickpockets and the bomb explosions, where random acts of kindness also find expression in a small bouquet of pâquerettes at a metro station handed out by an anonymous parishoner around Easter or in the form of a red rose offered free of charge to the lucky pedestrian because "they're all sold out and there's only one left."