Paris is love.
I recently had to consider the question just how far I would go for love. Or more accurately, how far would I go for Paris.
I don't remember a time when I didn't want to leave home. In my teens, I dreamed of attending university in Montreal. After Montreal, and after reading Bridget Jones' Diary too many times, I dreamed of living the single life in London. My London dream stayed with me until I met Paris for the first time on a European trip that I expected to be all about London. Paris was supposed to be just another city on my European itinerary. A city that I would dutifully tour and see the recommended "top ten"... Eiffel Tower, Louvre, cruise the Seine, etc.
Paris was not supposed to become a great love. And it did.
I struggle to control my feelings for Paris. Anyone close to me can attest to this. I know there are arguably so many other things in this world, in my world, worth investing all my emotion and my time. However, it's useless and I won't ignore Paris any longer.
Last September, walking near Place de la Concorde, Chris told me that even if we were to divorce, or I were to die, he would still want to try and make a life in Paris. This is what I had been waiting to hear for seven Paris trips. That Paris was not just mine, real or imagined. That Paris belongs to us, to our family of two, and that our Paris is our dream together. We are not waiting any longer.
We returned home more determined than ever to make Paris a reality and wrote an attainable five year plan that we stuck to our fridge with 1 euro Eiffel Tower fridge magnets. And then we started to tell people about it. And I tried to stop apologizing for our Paris-directed lifestyle choices. I also tried to stop mumbling when people asked me how many times had I been to Paris, forcing myself to articulate "eight", instead of "erwegh".
I can't lie, it feels a bit ridiculous to tell family, friends and strangers that we are going to move to Paris in five years. When I say it out loud, I can hear a voice in my head saying, "not going to happen." Another equally loud voice says, "just do it already."
It will happen.
This spring, Chris and I will go to Paris together for several weeks. We will relax, wander our favourite streets and through our favourite gardens, visit Notre Dame, practice our French, eat jambon baguettes and start to feel like the best version of ourselves again. Paris will feel, as Chris said to me over bière blanches in September, "Like we never left."
And then unlike our Paris trips past, Chris will leave and I will stay in Paris alone for six more weeks to write the first draft of what I hope will become my successful book about Paris.
The first time I went to Paris I was alone. And I was desperately in love with Chris, though trying very hard by going very far, not to be. It's strange to imagine being back in Paris alone but for opposite reasons.
This time, I will be alone for the two of us, working to achieve our shared dream of Paris. I am lucky to have this chance to live out one of my greatest dreams. I am even luckier to be loved by someone so much that they are not afraid to let me go to my other great amour.
Paris. Alone. Write. Successful. Book.
That's a very long way to go for the two loves of my life...