A Transatlantic Love Story, Part VI: City of Lights
Continued from A Transatlantic Love Story, Part V.
After that night we were in love. Some people have told me that they don’t believe in knowing when you’ve found “the one,” that you can’t know. The Fisherman’s Wife says she thinks one can only be that certain about love in youth. I don’t know. All I can say is that I felt as though someone had pushed me over, and I was so amazed at falling that I didn’t care where I landed. I also knew that if he continued to fall with me, without a doubt he was the one.
I got bad grades, the first in my life, but I was powerless to do anything about it. All I wanted was him, all of the time. He wanted me about 85% of the time, a hard fact to come to terms with being an all or nothing kind of gal, but he loved me. In fact, he said that he loved me quite quickly, just a week or so after our first date. He said it so effortlessly, too, just like a fearless child.
"I love you."
Soon it was spring break, and he wanted to show me Paris. He’d lived there the semester before and insisted on being the first to show me the city, as if there were millions of others lining up to show me the world. But that’s how he treated me, like he’d managed to catch a falling star. The journey was longer than I had imagined, almost three hours on the train that runs beneath the English Channel. By the time we arrived in Paris it was almost midnight.
"I want to show you something first, before we go to the hotel," he said. "Is that okay? I can carry your bags for you."
I would have carried eight more bags just to have the chance to follow him around those Paris streets, but I let him carry my things while we hopped on the Metro.
My first view of Paris was from an escalator as I ascended and the city unfolded around me. Vendors were selling chicken and crepes. Cafes were packed with smokers having animated conversations below gently flapping awnings. He led me out onto a bridge over the river, stopping in the middle to take me in his arms.
French voices blew across the water, swirling, encompassing me—the first time I’d ever been in a country that didn’t speak my language. The air was cold and his arms warm. A million red, yellow, and white lights glittered across the river. I was in love with the man I would marry on the edge of Pont Neuf in Paris at the precipice of my adult life. It was one of the happiest moments of my life, if not the happiest moment of my life, and I did what any right-minded girl would do. He leaned down to kiss me and I started gasping for air.
”I don’t know what’s wrong,” I said, between pained breaths. He should have laughed but he didn’t.
“I think you’re hyperventilating,” he said.
He walked me over to a pillar so I could lean against the wall while I ducked my head between my legs in one of the unsexiest postures Paris lovers have ever seen. True, pure happiness. As faint-inducing as pure oxygen. The movies never prepared me for that.
The next few days were saturated with rain, a constant rain so penetrating that umbrellas and galoshes couldn’t help. We traveled all over that city, hand-in-hand, tasting chocolates, marveling at paintings, squeezing into phone boxes to kiss in the middle of thunder showers, soaked through to our skin and never feeling a single drop. Did I know he was the one? Yeah, I did.