Sunday, November 21, 2010

Broken Vows

This past September, after two perfect weeks in Paris I vowed on the plane ride home to not let myself slip into a paralytic state of longing for my beloved city. I vowed to return home and attack my life with renewed energy and to not waste my Saturday nights searching for last minute flights and Eiffel Tower view Paris apartments. I vowed to not look at job postings or to join ex-pat online communities. I vowed to be grateful for our yearly trips to Paris.

All of my vows have been broken. I have wasted hours searching for flights (so inexpensive to fly on Christmas Day!) and taken hundreds of virtual apartment tours; I have researched French immigration regulations; I eagerly look forward to my weekly ex-pat e-newsletter; and I have added several immigration lawyers to my contacts. When I close my eyes, all I see is Paris.

My husband, Chris, is equally as lovesick and since returning home we have both struggled to ignore Paris and the pull it has on us. We are failing miserably.

When we got married in 2007, Chris had never been to Paris. His first trip was similar to mine in 2003; he started out disliking Paris, being disappointed by it and ended up madly in love. Like most sensible newly married women, I believed that our rather extravagant Parisian honeymoon would be, if we were lucky, a trip we took every ten years or so. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would return to Paris as we have on an annual basis. After all, getting married means settling down. And while we had agreed before getting married that there were certain milestones (i.e. having children and living in the suburbs) that we were happy to bypass, I think we both saw ourselves growing old together in our hometown.

Personally, I hoped that marriage would deaden, or at least quiet, the feelings of restlessness that have stirred and frustrated me since I was old enough to know cities like Paris existed. Until recently I believed it wasn't always Paris but when I reflect back honestly, I admit there has never been anything but Paris. I have loved Paris, in some form or another, whether real or imagined, since I was 10 years old. It seems that my heart has always been leading me there.

So while Paris has always been my heart’s desire, until I met Chris marriage was something other people did. I thought I was not the kind of woman that men wanted to marry. I was convinced of this, despite a previous long-term relationship that was on the path to marriage. In my mind’s eye, I was still the too-chubby-all-mouth-all-legs-gawky-oversize-sweater-wearing teenager that never got the guy of her dreams. From the moment Chris became part of my life, I stopped being that awkward teenager. With the first words we spoke to each other, Chris made me feel like the best and most beautiful version of myself and even back then I knew that wherever he was, was where I wanted to be - even if it meant, and it did mean, relocating to my hometown.

So here we are today, living in our hometown, many years from the moment we met, three years into our marriage and three amazing trips to Paris. While our friends seem to live more traditional married lives: buying houses, having babies and cooking Sunday night dinners for their in-laws, we find ourselves seriously considering a different kind of married life. A married life in Paris. Is it possible?

Most days I believe it is possible. But there are also days when I can’t see past the impossibility. It would be too much of a beautiful life for two, small town people; being happily married and being able to live in Paris is greedy and more than anyone deserves. There are also days, too may of them right now, where I know we both think if we don’t try a life together in Paris, we will regret it for the rest of our lives.

Contemplating a move to Paris is sort of like contemplating marriage. There are risks, there are sacrifices, and the statistics are ugly. We all know that over 50 per cent of marriages end in divorce. But to love someone enough to marry them is to know that the risks are worth the rewards and that there are always happy endings. It is putting your faith into something that can’t be put into words but can be felt in the deepest pit of your stomach and stretch your heart in way that makes you ache with happiness and wonder.

Paris, will you marry us?