I’ve been living in France for two years and two months now and every time I meet someone new I get the same conversation starter, “Why did you move to France?”
This is a such a recurring question that I’ve developed the long and short versions depending on my mood and whether or not I’m feeling the person I’m talking to. The short version is “My husband is French and he works here.”
The long version goes like this:
When I was a pre-teen, around 12, my mom received a lot of clothes from the local clothes closet seeing as though my parents were just getting on their feet financially (after moving into our Habitat For Humanity house just two years before). I opened up the bag with my name on it and found inside a pair of Yves Saint Laurent pants. I looked at the logo in bewilderment and thought to myself, “This is a sign. It means something to me.” Today, I look back and I wonder, “Who the hell would toss out a pair of YSL pants? Seriously!” Anyway, some generous, well-dressed person who obviously didn’t need them was destined to send them my way. After some research, I learned YSL was a French designer. Very interesting. I then let the “sign” go.
When I was fifteen and transferred to high school for ninth grade, we were allowed to select our electives. Because I always love a challenge and I never waste an elective opportunity to sit around doing nothing, I saw the opening for a beginning French class knowing nothing about the country and its people. Then, as clear as day, I get this strange feeling, like a deja vu type thing, on a bright, Florida morning that I must take French because some day, I’m going to move to France and marry a Frenchman. This time, I held onto the sign, doodling pictures over the next four years of my dream guy: a smart and witty surfer with glasses.
In college, I decided to minor in French, but the classes were not consistent and I felt like I wasn’t learning anything in them, so I dropped the minor and took on sociology. I was still very interested in going to France, but since I was paying my own way through college and my own living expenses, any trip was out of the question.
Naturally, I dated a series of boys who were not French. Serious relationships, fun relationships, boys and men who have ritually come and gone as a part of my fleeting youth. I had a relationship going on four years and the day my mom proposed to give him her engagement ring, I realized that I had to cut that relationship off fast. Deep down inside I knew that this guy was not a part of my future and I had to be fair to him by letting him go.
After the breakup and quitting my French minor, I eventually lost the hope of ever going to France, let alone marrying a Frenchman and living my days there. It was like I was telling God, “I give up!” I dated other guys, focused on my work and studies, and just had a good old time with life as a young, single woman. And believe me, it was fun; some of the best, tumultuous, exciting days of my young life, even if there was something, nay someone, missing from it all.
To be continued….