So the guy I am kind of best friends with who I kind of love called me a term of endearment the other day. This was incredible since he hasn’t so much as hinted at having even a blush of emotional for me since being a relationship has never been practical between us and i made it all too clear how I felt. That being said, there are things between the lines, and the fact that we talk like we do and he never turns me away when I’m having a meltdown, and despite never wanting to give it a go and try long distance the times I have wanted to, he’s never said he doesn’t care for me.
It’s complicated, but it’s not that complicated.
For the most part I feel like a fool dying of unrequited love, much as I’ve continued to fool around on my end and haven’t made being in a relationship any real priority. I have dried his virtual tears when his actually real relationships ended and he has been there for me too though he clearly feels uncomfortable hearing about my adventures. And he has never and would never tell me to curtail my dreams in any way, not to please anyone.
Now, I’ve been seriously thinking of going back to the US and he’s getting older and we actually have a very real friendship now.
So naturally, I felt incredibly terrified. And while I continued to tease him as I usually do, I tried to just keep it casual. And I didn’t endear him back. Though I felt like it was implie ,given that he was thanking me for calling him on his bday which I remembered without the help of facebook.
That whole day, I was in ecstasy imagining our bright future together and all the ways things might play out romantically for us. But a few days later, after I called him and didn’t get a response, I was afraid that he didn’t mean it the way I thought he did and he was pushing away in some way. It’s been a long time since we’ve chatted and basically we’ve been playing gchat tag. I tried calling him again today but it went to voicemail, and I didn’t leave one because I literally just called to catch up with him and hear what the big things were he had alluded to going on in his life.
And of course, to say, without saying, I love you.
And now I am afraid as fuck.
And hoping he gets back to me.
I’m in the midst of making some big decisions about whether to renew, extend or let my contract expire in march, would would mean I would be leaving my company in Paris. Though I am confident that if I really wanted to, I could probably find another job here.
I am happy here, the days I am not sad. So afraid to miss out and go back home, since you only live once…
And Paris has stared to love me back, and knowing I have the option of staying here, and knowing I could make it work, feels like I have a key to the city.
Going through the streets around the Jardins des Tuileries today, I felt like I owned every each of it. Every single Hausmannian facade was part of me, and those luxury goods around Place Vendome were within my reach.
Some may prefer Paris in the spring, or its long, pleasant summers, but I love Paris in the Fall. Or at least, indian summer.
Naturally I can’t let this friend of mine and the mere possibility of romance with him define my life, much as before going away on vacation, I was at the point of being ready to leave Paris for good. Sometimes Paris (and France) seems like a bad boyfriend, and other times I feel like it’s given me the philosopher’s stone.
In any case, it’s made me who I am and given me the space to become a real individual and define the person I want to become. And it’s just a beautiful, beautiful place, and that counts for a lot.
Paris may not be what it once was, but it is not a has-been and never will be. It invented modernity, and preserves all that is charming and romantic within it. Not the Eternal City, but certainly the eternally chic.
As some of my colleagues would say, it’s just a bunch of slick marketing. But for someone who made it my goal to come here in the absence of other goals and totally lacking direction, this was my desired port of call and seemingly invincible challenge. For readers of Paulo Coelho, I once thought it was the dream but it’s actually more like the oasis (at leas tthe first time I was here) or maybe the pyramid where the guy gets beat up but finds out where his treasure has been hiding all along. If you have a more classical bent, I would say it’s something in the Odysey, maybe Dido’s Carthage.
And some part of me feels like the circle needs to be completed and I have to go home. Here could be my home, no matter how alien I may be or how far away my lovd ones are. ANd I do love this place and living here. I have other goals too though, whih I discovered while here, disappointed because I’d attained my dream of living here but was still depressed.
And sometimes I just get tired of fighting to live here sine it goes against the grain and nothign is ever easy, and I wonder what it would be like if I used my energy to swim forward instead of treading water. It seems treading water makes you strong, but eventually you’ll tire and drown.
I also sometimes have trouble reconciling my own awe of the city and the feeling of grandeur with all the macro level bullshit that filters down to my peon level. Everyda, a friend and I trade articles about how the country is going to shit, much as neither of us has moved despite having another passport and the right to live in a prosperous, seemingly more sane country.
Even sacarier, I heard through the grapevine that Francois Hollande, the president, said that if people knew the truth about the state of the country, there would be revolution. And that’s why he does nothing and puts a bandaid on a breaking dam.
A colleague pointed out it’s really interesting to watch things fall to ruin, and someone during the Fall of Rome must have made a fortune and had a good time. As an anglophone with decent credentials, it’s quite possible that my own star might rise (albeit perhaps not as quickly or as high as in my home country, because everything moves slow here and the ceiling is much lower) . And the truth is, I can always leave.
At least now, before I’ve fallen in love. Before I’ve made a million friends I can’t imagine leaving after the difficulty of acquiring them. Before I feel so utterly changed and transformed by this experience that I fear returning home to find I’ve become a stranger in my own couuntry.
Conversely, when I think about home, though I believe that if I truly desired it, I could get back here somehow, it seems more like a stopping point, though it should feel more like a home port, a place to replenish before having other adventures.
And sometimes the value of adventure itself can be called to question, and at what point you are hiding from everyday life. At what point does this place just become Neverland, with bureaucracy in the place of Captain Hook? Since every engagement I hve here is a fixed time, and it just seems like I find my way but I never even try or dare to put down roots, sine they could be so easily torn up and might not grow so deep. And if they did, o the heartache of having to tear them up because I don’t really have the certainty of being able to stay here.
And so back to my old friend, the one I have dreamed of for years- just the glimmer of real love made me so afraid. made me doubt everything about him, made me want to hold tight to France and never let go, made me think that I still have so much time, I’m too young, he’s too imperfect, I deserve better, and all of that.
I loved someone once, and he changed my life. I broke up with him because we grew in different directions. Without him I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and I will always think of him and pray for him. The person I am couldn’t even fathom being with him, and for a long time I blocked out all the memories. I got into a toxic situationship and thought compulsively about somebody who treated me like crap, rather than the devoted boyfriend I broke up with over the telephone. Because I met somebody who liked French movies and had a goal in life I could understand, and my boyfriend was not my hero anymore, and I was tired of taking him.
And then the knight in shining armor I saw in the distance was an illusion, was actually a mirror of the most hateful voice inside me and all that wasn’t kind in my old boyfriend. I didn’t break up with my boyfriend because of this guy, I broke up with him because I could fathom wanting someone else as my boyfriend and felt passion where I shouldn’t, not when I had a promise ring. I wasn’t yet 20.
Since then, i’ve been single and I’ve been completely devoted to my own development and advancement. I have complained about being lonely and looked for love, but wat I’ve actually done is enjoy the drama and novelty of faux romantic adventures I know will never work out rather than work on a relationship with a real human being instead of jerking off to a figment of my imagination.
I let myself fall in love with a city, with a country, with the cool, detached, exciting, adventuresome expat life.
I dreamt of finding someone compatible who I would never have to make any sacrifices for and who’s devotion I would never doubt.
I loved someone from afar, offering my heart on a platter when I knew the distance was too far and the timing was too short for him to reach over and take it honestly as a gentleman. I do still adore him, and that’s why when he seems to love me for just a second, or if he doesn’t love me, it’s terrifying.
If I decided to leave this life, would it be for just a glimmer of a shot with him or someone like him in the good old USA? To be closer to my family, I could tell other people. And along the way, I’d probably have a more strategic career path if less vacation time.
And if he doesn’t love me, would I stay here to avoid having to deal with the fact there’s no one waiting for me at home? Penelope left her loom. Would I stay here and find someone “better,” in some way, someone more like me, someone who speaks French, someone who has a beautiful house and a chateau in the suburbs of Paris but loves American whiskey? A charming prince lacking all the rough edges of the cowboy who didn’t want to take me away despite my heart full for him, or wasn’t strong enough to?
It seems like life has these distinct possibilities, but there’s probably tons of overlap. If I hadn’t ended up in Paris, I probably would have ended up in a marketing job and liked it anyway and got some direction that way. If I wasn’t in Paris wondering about the home I left behind and feel complacency that I could always come back to, woudl I be bitter wondering over it or perfectly adjusted, surrounded by friends and relatives and leading an ordinary life prepared ot announce my engagement on my faebook page and take my place in the boring circle of life i sometimes feel cut off from here, stuck in suspended animation just a study abroad girl.
But I’m not that and I know that with time and chance, I could find love here-
if I wanted to.
Which in all honesty I haven’t.
Can’t imagine why.
Maybe I have commitment issues, or maybe I’m just not yet 26.
Or I’m chickenshit. That rhymes.
And no matter how many times I seem to face rejection, I know I am just being protected.
I do seem to be in general happier than several of my friends who are in relationships.
And whenever love does come, I can say I’ve done most of th things i wanted to do.
Enough to know that if love comes knocking, the fact I never get seduced by a sexy Spaniard in Barcelona won’t be a lifelong regret.
And I’m independent enough to know that as much as my jealousy is mounting fo rall my friends getting married off, I’d have to really like a person much more than anyone I currently know to do that. And I want babies, and a husband, and all that, but I am proud to say I really, truly, finally have myself.
I’m the love of my life, and I was worth waiting for.
But please love, come again. Even though nothing will ever be the same again, and I won’t be the strong, tall, brave ridiculously independent woman any more. I’ll be weak at the knees, coming when somebody calls, and unable to imagine life without them, and not even wanting to. Who is that person? Could she really be me?
But sometimes, honestly, I get a little bored of my single lady self.
So yes, please love, come again and tear my heart out. Though my life will change because of someone else, and they’ll be no guarantees.