When I moved here, I’ll admit it was an unreasonable impulse. I woke up one day and simply made up my mind to live in Paris for a few months. I had put in eight years in LA, working 15-hour days, and running a startup, so it was a well-merited escapism, if you will. Something for me.
Well, life ended up having more in store for me than one careless, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants summer.
It all started on a gloomy day in May. I had only been in Paris for 10 days, and I already hated it. I think it was the jetlag, combined with not really knowing anyone, the bad weather, and my natural introversion, which meant I was spending a lot of time alone, in my head.
Sure I was walking around and looking at things, but not knowing another soul nor the language made it hard to feel a part of anything.
On that day, an acquaintance from LA let me know she was in the city, filming a short film and asked if I wanted to be an extra? I jumped at the chance, yearning to see a familiar friendly face.
The meeting spot was a hole-in-the-wall kebab place, where a gathering of hipster-looking crew and actors assembled. I didn’t really notice him at first, since I was so excited to speak English with the other native speakers. I did notice he was tall, and that he ate a cheeseburger, which I found really odd. Why get a frozen cheeseburger from a kebab place, where the tender meat was spinning (literally) right in front of you?
Some time later, we were finally on "set," and my role happened to be to stare intensely at his eyes while he played the violin. His playing was beautiful.
And so it began. He pursued me, writing me poems and playing me songs on every instrument imaginable, the trumpet, the piano, the cello, the guitar, etc. At first I was creeped out. Who writes poetry? I would cringe each time I opened a new letter. But eventually I realized how pathetic most of my dating experiences had been in LA, where some guys thought three dates at a trendy restaurant and texting the blowing kiss emoji was being romantic.
The French do it different. In fact there is no concept of dating. If you like someone, and that person likes you back, then you start "seeing" each other, but it's implied that you aren’t seeing anyone else, and that you are seeing each other because you actually like each other, not because you want easy sex or are trying to get over an ex. Zero bullshit, but lots of romance, which I found hard to accept as not bullshit.
He drove me around Paris in his convertible, the summer breeze blowing in my hair, and the Eiffel tower sparkling in the distance. When I mentioned my favorite flowers were lilies, he pulled over on a busy Parisian street at a flower shop to grab me a big, beautiful bouquet half my size.
He took me to the doctor when I was sick, and convinced said doctor to take his insurance card so I would only pay 20 euro for the visit, as opposed to 200 for a foreigner (healthcare in France is awesome, BTW). And most of all, he really let me into an entirely different world full of music, the real French culture, and all the beautiful things I would have never experienced had I stayed in my sheltered, tourist bubble.
But I didn’t want all of this. I didn’t want to be tied down to anyone or anything; I wanted the summer to be about me and what I desired, without any regards or consequences, for anyone. I wanted to party all night in London, meet new people in Spain, take last minute flights to Rome--all the things I still did because they were fun, and I was here to live with no restraints. I was here for me.
So I resisted it as long as possible, but I couldn’t deny that something about him made me feel different. At the end of the summer, we parted ways promising to make it work and telling each other we loved one another in between tears.
Two days after I landed in LA, I knew something was missing. My period. So I took the test. Yes, the one that either sends women through a painful agony of despair or reveals the ultimate joy in their lives. For me, it was a mixture of both. Me, a mom? No way. I was an educated, well-traveled writer who worked in the jungles of Guatemala and had lovers in Paris and LA. A mom meant stability.
Many tears, Facetime calls, Skype sessions, doctor’s visits, soul-searching, journal writing days later, I hopped on a plane back to Paris where I currently live and am preparing to give birth in April. All this was made easier by realizing we were in love – something my cynical brain wouldn’t let me process because it had all happened so fast.
And yes, one day I could wake up and say what the hell did I do and who is this person, but really, at my age, if it feels right (actually, if it feels great). Life is too short.
I’m not saying you have to move to Paris to find love. That’s just cliché and expensive. But at the risk of sounding cheesy, real love is out there. I was lucky enough to find it.