From time to time, Fréd sends stories that he’s written in French for me to translate into English. In his third year of university, he’s working to become a French literature professor, and the course of study requires a few classes in translation. Though his spoken English isn’t bad, Fréd doesn’t see the point in not taking advantage of a bilingual friend. And I'm all to eager to work on my translation skills. I’m working on one of Fréd's stories when I hear the soft pop of a Facebook chat. It’s the author himself. After clearing up the meaning of one of the more idiomatic phrases on page seven, Fréd asks me what my plans are for next year. You’re done with school soon, right?
I tell him yes, that I’m looking for a job, that I want to be a journalist. It looks like I’ll eventually be moving out west — San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Santa Fe. I’ve never really explored the United States that much.
Are you done with us? he asks, half-joking, adding a winky face. Fréd loves emoticons. Are you done with France?
I laugh at the absurdity of the notion. God, no, I write. Not done with France. Never done. And even though I’m a bit miffed when Fréd’s professor gives him a 92% percent on the translation, I know this is still true.