La Valse d’Amelie

I am back in high school French class. We are watchingAmelie. We have been waiting all semester for this. Finally something good is up on the old TV on the cart wheeled in. Briefly we are carried away into a magical world. It’s surreal, animals talk periodically, mystery is the flavour of the day, and in an instant your life can change.

I am at Eau Claire market and there is a busker playing the accordion. I yell out, “Play some Yann Tiersen.” The busker fumbles for a minute and then plays his way through the first part of “La Valse d’Amelie.” My friends walk away, abandoning me to stand through four minutes of Yann Tiersen.

Yann Tiersen is playing in town and in interviews he asks to be known as more than the guy who did the Amelie soundtrack — he also did the Goodbye Lenin soundtrack and has non-soundtrack based work. This is the first time I take note of him. I don’t go to the concert but the name sticks with me as does his photograph — a stylish older Frenchmen — an appearance that fits with a man famous for playing the accordion.

One day I lose my agenda on campus. I don’t notice until I receive a text message from a number I don’t know. They have it and want to arrange a drop off. They are also insistent that I leave the promised reward of $0.62. I imagine in my head that this person is Nino and we are having . I never meet them or see their face. I drop off the money in an envelope and fetch my agenda from the pre-arranged location — a coffee shop that I am pretty sure they have friends working at, or the people there are as amused as I am.

Twice before leaving on a trip I am given one of those small box sets from Chapter/Indigo/Coles. It has a gnome in it — complete with a passport — to bring along on my travels. This begins with the gnome inAmelie. He wanted to see the world, and apparently so did I.


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