Giddy. Tracey and I were the giddiest girls on the planet after they dropped us off. And worried. Worried they were going to blow us off, leave us waiting in the lobby with tears in our eyes. I don’t think either one of us slept much that morning, if at all.
While we waited for them, we paced the lobby of our uber-posh youth hostel. Both of us had fallen hard and they were more than a half hour late. Our faces looked like the figure in Edvard Munch’s Scream – pure agony, trembling with anxiety. Depressed, we were about to head to the courtyard to grab a much needed coffee when our names were called.
There, at the bottom of the landing, they stood smiling. And what great smiles they had, big and bright and happy to see us. They bounded up the steps three at a time and swung us around in their muscular arms.
It was time to see the real Paris.
We headed for Patrick’s car.
“Don’t think that I've got (as we say in French) a “sugar heart,” that I fall in love with every girl I meet. It is really not my way of life. I am a boy from the sea, heated by the sun of Provence, but your heat is greater and makes my blood boil in every part of my body. My brain, usually cool, is burning in such a manner that I don't recognize it. And I like to write when I feel my heart beating on every word.” ~ excerpt from letter two.
For all you naughty girls out there, the answer to the question weighing down your minds right now is “no.” No, I didn’t sleep with him. The proof is in the pudding, or in this case an excerpt from letter four.
“No contact before you gave me so much pleasure, and we didn’t (unfortunately) make love. So you can imagine the state of my blood if we did.”
Right. Where was I? Oh yes, we got into Patrick’s car. As Jean-Luc had found out the night before (when our lips weren’t glued together), I was an art major at the university I attended. He wanted to show me the area where all those famous artists hung out back “in the day.” Artists like Van Gogh and Toulouse Lautrec and Dali and Picasso. You’ve heard of them, right?
We parked the car and traversed the cobbled streets of Montmartre, making our way to a small café for very expensive jambon et fromage crepes. Yes, they were being tourists for us. But honestly, I couldn’t think of better tour guides. So very proud of their country they were.
Tracey and I were both still very nervous. We liked them, but didn’t know how things would play out. I remember laughing. A lot. And of course, I still tried speaking to Jean-Luc in my mangled French.
In school, as you may know, they teach you “expressions,” not conversational skills. And, really, how many times can you say, “Je sais ce que sais, mais je ne sais pas comment le dire en Français?” (I know what it is, but I don’t know how to say it in French). On the plus side, Jean-Luc told me my accent was very good, but I’m pretty sure he was just being nice.
He still insisted on “practicing” his English.
“I like your way to be funny, your kind of foolishness, your passion for art, and also your presence at my side.” ~excerpt from letter one
After we ate, we walked over to Sacre Coeur, the towering white church, where it’s mandatory to take your picture on the steps. So, of course, we did just that. And I bet you want to know what my French man looks like, right? Yes, there are photos, but I don’t have them. Tracey has copies – good thing for doubles. Now, we (she) just has to get her lazy butt up to her parents' house and get them. I’ve only been asking her to do this for, ahem, years. (And, yes, Tracey, that is a hint if I’ve ever heard one. I know you’re stalking my blog).
“I really don’t know where you are at this time, but my spirit walks by you during your whole trip.” ~ excerpt from letter three