J’aime Paris

I’m finding it difficult to articulate my thoughts of the past 48 hours. My beloved Paris, a city adored by all, attacked, so many innocent lives lost. And for what? For enjoying life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. My Italian and I live in the North Marais, bordering the 10th and 11th arrondissements, steps away from Place de la Republique. On many evenings we are carousing these sames streets where the attacks occurred, where many were not as lucky as us. Glued to the news at home, we could barely believe the events as they unfolded all around us, sirens in the distance making it all the more real. My heart aches for the families and friends of the victims, for the lives so suddenly cut short. I was immediately reminded of the Charlie Hebdo attacks earlier in the year. Again? The shock and despair I feel, that many of us feel, is all too similar to 911 in New York, an attack not just on a city, but on the entire world.

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On Saturday, rather than stay home and allow the media to feed our fear, we walked to the sites of the attacks, in thought of the victims and in support of our adopted city. My eyes filled with tears as we passed the cafes with terraces once brimming with locals; now only bullet holes remained. The gate was down at Le Petit Cambodge. Flowers and candles lined the streets, people of all ages gathered around to pay homage. Suddenly it became all too devastatingly real. That evening we spent with friends from the neighborhood, all of us grateful not to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Chance.

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The sun shone brightly on Sunday and again we took to the streets. As we often do on mild fall weekends, we biked to the Seine and rode the length of the river past Hôtel de Ville and our favorite haunts in Ile Saint-Louis until we reached Musée d’Orsay. Museums and markets remained closed, but all around us life was being lived. Parisians mingled at neighborhood cafes, children ran around the riverbanks,  tourists queued to view Paris by boat, we even caught a glimpse of a token bride and groom. Love for the city was felt around every corner.

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Since 911 my affection for New York grew deeper, it became a city that will forever remain in my heart. Now too, I feel more bonded to Paris, much the way I do to a loved one whose well-being is of paramount importance to me. This is perhaps the most sane way to survive such terror, by expressing profound love and cherishing the life we have been given. Every. Single. Day.

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As the sun set and we made our way back home, I thought about the official Paris Motto since the Middle Ages, now again relevant, Fluctuat Nec Mergitur, Though beaten by the waves, she never sinks. Stay strong Paris!

celebrating four years

Today marks four years since that magical day in Monterosso, our wedding on the sea. To mark the occasion, I thought who better to capture my Italian and I than Chloe Lodge, a friend and photographer whose work I have admired since she lived in Paris. During her recent trip to the City of Lights we met her at our favorite apéro spot Café SaintRégis.

CLP_04From there we walked through Île de la Cité enjoying the sunshine on a perfect spring day.

CLP_13CLP_14As natural as it felt, I knew Chloe and her camera were watching us. My Italian lightened the mood with his humor. I could not help but to smile as we danced along the Seine…

CLP_34CLP_36CLP_37This time was precious. There was nowhere to be but in the moment. In love.

CLP_18 CLP_28Time passes so quickly. Thank you Chloe, for helping to savour it, one moment at a time.

Seven Letters from Paris

Samantha Verant is a woman after her own heart, one that she left at a train station in Paris in 1989. His name was Jean-Luc. They met randomly at a Paris bistro during her European adventures, and the seeds of love were planted. Like most travel romances, after their 24 hour affair, they continued to journey solo. But not without Jean-Luc writing Samantha seven heartfelt love letters, filled with passion and depth. Years went by and Samantha found herself living an unfulfilled, passionless life, dreaming of this handsome Frenchman from the past. What happens when Samantha uncovers these letters 20 years later and searches for her long lost love, Jean-Luc? In a word: magic. But not without hardship. Samantha’s memoir Seven Love Letters from Paris is proof of the power of love and how overcoming fear can help dreams come true.

Even though I haven’t yet met Samantha, (but plan to soon as I’m certain she and I and our passion driven husbands will get along splendidly), I feel like I know her. We became friends via our blogs, and when I heard about her romantic tale, I couldn’t wait for her to share it with the world. Once the book was published just days ago, I could not put it down, as Samantha recounts her love story with her amorous rocket scientist, from the very first meeting. Fiction could not have told a better tale! How happy I am for this couple in love, who were certainly destined for one another. In Samantha’s words, as in my own, “L’amour! Encore l’amour! Toujours l’amour!”

SEVEN LETTERS FROM PARIS: A MEMOIR:

Twenty years, seven letters, and one long-lost love of a lifetime 

Watch the book trailer:


Thank you Samantha, for living and documenting your love story with such a generous heart!

Connect with Samantha via: Web, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter

 

five years later

As anyone who has read my blog will know, I wasn’t raised to believe in fitting in nor living by societal standards. I was raised believing that anything is possible, and that life was meant to be a design of our own creation. This was instilled by two creative, soulful parents who themselves rarely followed conventions. Above all, I was taught to live by my heart.

It was by following this unconventional script, from the urban jungle of NYC, to the scenic landscapes of the earth’s far corners, that led me to my Italian. And to Paris. Exactly 5 years ago.

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Everyone has a story. Some have yet to live theirs. Today we celebrate ours.

 

Venice of the North

Bruges, or Brugge as the locals call it, is considered Venice of the North. Where better to sneak away for a surprise romantic weekend with my Italian? I secretly made all the arrangements months in advance, and with only a few minor obstacles, just as the leaves were changing into spectacular shades of browns and reds, and the chill of winter lingered in the air, we boarded the train. A short 2-hour ride to discover this UNESCO World Heritage city in Belgium’s Flemish Northwest.

IMG_6174Home was a welcoming regal 15th Century Palace, once the residence of the Burgundian aristocracy.

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Bruges greeted us with a cloudy sky and the promise of rain, setting the mood as explorations began.

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We were both struck with the city’s architecture. Elegant brick buildings set upon tranquil canals.

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We did our best to avoid the crowds and chose any side streets we could find, following the sun.

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To get a better look at the city from above, we climbed the 366 steps of the historic Belfry Tower.

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A view to savour as the ancient clock tower chimed all around us.

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We also enjoyed an impressive view from the rooftop of the last remaining brewery, De Halve Maan.

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What’s a trip to Belgium without a chocolate tasting? After trying quite a few, I favored Dumon.

IMG_3848Having taken quite a few weekend escapes since living in Paris, Bruges was one of my favorites. It’s inhabitants friendly, it’s range of dining options impressive (In’t Nieuw Museum is a must for a real local experience) and the scenery spectacular. There are quite a few museums and galleries too, satisfying all the senses. Weekend in Bruges, a success!

like father like daughter

Dad and KasiaThere is something uniquely special about the relationship between a father and a daughter. When I was merely five years old I asked my mom in a state of panic, “You married Dad, so now who will I marry?”. Yes, I was in love with my father. And rightfully so, as he was a special man. Gentle in nature, strong in character, handsome in visage, filled with personality and witty beyond words. Unfortunately, our time together was short, and at the age of fifteen he passed away due to illness. I often wonder how my life would have evolved with his support and influence, considering we shared many of the same dreams and visions of life. And continue to.

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Though he is not with me in the physical sense, I continue to feel my father’s presence. During my many months of travel I knew he was there, and felt safe. When I serendipitously met my Italian I knew my dad was behind the scenes, silently directing my path. And now, I am living a life between France and Italy, his two favorite places on earth. Perhaps I am fulfilling his dreams, as I fulfill my own. After all, it is what he has taught me, to always follow my heart and believe in myself, that has led me on this journey. For this life, to my father, I am grateful.

two years

Today we celebrate our second wedding anniversary. It feels like just yesterday, our wedding on the sea. Yet time and experiences have filled these days with memories. Our life in Paris grows deeper and our bond even stronger. To celebrate, a few memories from then, which we smile upon now.

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And this is only the beginning.

L’Amour (or less)

One of the great joys of living as an expat in Paris is that it has exposed me to other like-minded Americans, who equally find their creative voice and pursue their dreams, on French soil. Whether it be in the form of American-style cupcakes, sweet stories, designer pillows, or even treasure hunts in the Louvre, each of these women is following her passion. I am proud to be among them.

Most recently another friend and fellow expat has spoken, this time through film. An actress and film-maker from NYC, Jennifer Geraghty arrived to Paris no more than 2 year ago, and now, she has a few stories to tell. Namely, all about the romantic tales between expats and the French. All true stories, not all her own. Certainly enough to entice any  mademoiselle or monsieur out there who wonders about dating in the French capital! Have a look, listen, and share the love! Jennifer and her collaborator Alexis are in the midst of raising funds via kickstarter to turn these tales into a series of short stories, 12 of which are already written. To learn more, here’s their website.

To add a little incentive in the form of Kasia Dietz handbags, I’ve designed a custom hand-painted tote for those able to donate a generous sum. More info on their kickstarter page

L'Amour (or less) tote by Kasia Dietz

May these tales of LAmour (or less) come to life!

from Paris with love

It feels like a cliché writing about love on Valentine’s Day, in Paris, the city of romance. But in my opinion it’s a subject worth indulging, regardless of the day. And regardless of your status. Several months ago I wrote an article for HiP Paris, all about falling in love with Paris in a day, and with no one other than yourself. And in so doing, I often explore Paris, and fall in love with the city which I call home. Either alone or in good company (otherwise known as my Italian).

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Photos taken with Instagram, for more images of Paris you can join me here.

Wishing you all a day, and a life, filled with LOVE!

 

{not just} another day

Little did I know that March 20th would forever remain a day to remember. Not merely because it’s Macaron Day, though this would certainly be reason enough to celebrate. Today marks 3 years since the dinner that started it all, after the meeting just days prior. To celebrate, I spent a memorable Paris weekend with dear friends of almost 20 years, each living their own unique love story, one in Istanbul and one in London. (Last year’s girls’ weekend was in London… next year Istanbul?) As we dined our way through Paris, we reminisced about the journeys that created our multi-cultural lives, and how much of these lives we have experienced with one another. For all of this, as our chapters continue to be written and shared, and winter turns to spring… I am grateful.

Now time to indulge in a few free macarons… I am in Paris after all!

 

romance defined

Valentine’s Day spent in the most romantic city in the world, or anywhere for that matter, can indeed be an experience in romance. I happen to be living what is classically considered a love affair, in Paris no less, but there is so much more to the term romance.

1. Ardent emotional attachment or involvement between people; A love affair.

2. A mysterious or fascinating quality or appeal, as of something adventurous, heroic, or strangely beautiful.

3. A long fictitious tale of heroes and extraordinary or mysterious events, usually set in a distant time or place.

4. An artistic work, such as a novel, story, or film, that deals with sexual love, especially in an idealized form.

5. Music. A lyrical, tender, usually sentimental song or short instrumental piece.

6. The Romance languages. (French bien sûr!)

7. Whatever you choose it to be.

photo by Malias

On this day, really no different than any other yet historically designated for the romantic souls, I will stop and taste, look and see, appreciate and feel. Within the enchanting setting of Paris.

Happy Valentine’s Day! May you experience romance, in any definition you choose.

marriage 101

Marriage is defined as an intimate or close union. Today marks 4 months since that intimate union.

Still, it feels like yesterday. Very often someone asks, has anything changed? Possibly fearing that through the commitment of marriage everything does inevitable change. Other than feeling more settled and better understanding what it means to be part of a self-designed family, nothing has changed. And that is the way I would like to keep it. How exactly do I plan to do this? By doing exactly what we did beforewe were married.

1. spontaneous dates (even just an apero after work)

2. romantic getaways (another trip to the Loire perhaps?)

3. love notes (most often left behind on my way to a girls night…)

4. sweet nothings via text (a modern version of the above)

5. speak about everything & laugh often

Most important and obvious of all, never take each other for granted. Creating this union, whether married, paxed, or simply commited on your own terms, is one of the most beautiful gifts of life.

I’m sure as the months turn into years I will have a few more to add to the list…

year two

Today marks two years of life in Paris. A place I now call home. Much in the way I called NYC home for almost 12 years. It feels like just yesterday I was the ‘new expat in town‘ and now I’m offering advice to fellow newcomers adjusting to the cultural nuances of life in the city of lights. (Not to mention those who dream to live here.) Not an easy adjustment might I add, but certainly one that leaves you feeling accomplished when you finally change your status from visitor to local.

Year one left me with with many lessons learned. Humility among them. All in preparation perhaps.

Year two has been a momentous one, proving just how much can happen in the space of 12 months. Most notable is the change in my status from mademoiselle to madame. Beginning and ending with Greece. Italy being the setting for the fairytale. In professional matters, I set my creative mind to work and launched my handbag business. Perhaps anything is possible in Paris. Socially I am grateful. Surrounded by like-minded expats and even a few French friends.

Most of all, year two has proven how privileged I am to live what often feels like an adventure. For better or for worse. To have the possibility to follow my dreams. And to be given the gift of love.

I look forward to year three. I hear that’s how long it takes to really master the city. I’m on my way.

at last

At last, the wedding song. Did we have one? Not officially.

Many months ago when the fairytale began, my Italian and I happened to be in my hometown of Westhampton Beach while the great Etta James was performing. She being one of my all time most loved singers. Me being ecstatic to see her perform live, to say the least. And yes, she sang At Last.

This could very well have been our wedding song, as it is for so many, but instead it remains discreetly in the soundtrack of our love story.

What the wedding singer did perform was a Napolitan classic, requested by my dear friend Maria, a Napolitan girl herself. Not planned yet perfectly timed, Ti voglio bene assai became our song.

Here, where the sea shines
and the wind howls,
on the old terrace beside the gulf of Sorrento,
a man embraces a girl
he wept after,
then clears his throat and continues the song:

I love you very much,
very, very much, you know;
it is a chain by now
that melts the blood inside the veins, you know…

He saw the lights out on the sea,
thought of the nights there in America,
but they were only the fishermen’s lamps
and the white wash astern.
He felt the pain in the music
and stood up from the piano,
but when he saw the moon emerging from a cloud
death also seemed sweeter to him.
He looked the girl in the eyes,
those eyes as green as the sea.
Then suddenly a tear fell
and he believed he was drowning
I love you very much,
very, very much, you know,
it is a chain by now
that melts the blood inside the vein you know…

The power of opera,
where every drama is a hoax;
with a little make-up and with mime
you can become someone else.
But two eyes that look at you,
so close and real,
make you forget the words,
confuse your thoughts,

So everything became small,
also the nights there in America.
You turn and see your life
through the white wash astern.

But, yes, it is life that ends
and he did not think so much about it
on the contrary, he already felt happy
and continued his song:

I love you very much,
very, very much, you know,
it is a chain by now
that melts the blood inside the veins, you know…

I love you very much,
very, very much, you know,
it is a chain by now
that melts the blood inside the veins, you know…

destiny defined

destiny [ˈdɛstɪnɪ] n

1. the future destined for a person or thing; fate; fortune; lot
2. the predetermined or inevitable course of events
3. (Philosophy) the ultimate power or agency that predetermines the course of events

My destiny (and I happen to believe all of the above) was defined exactly two years ago. On Prince street in a city of millions. In the form of an Italian man with smiling eyes.

For this reason, amongst others, New York City will remain in my heart forever.

Do you believe in destiny?

single to plural

In exactly 3 months, what I have known to be a single life will begin in the plural. I will be legally and ceremoniously committed to the man I met and  fell in love with almost 2 years ago.

I’ve never been one to dream about a wedding, to envision myself  as a princess adored by a royal court. Rather, I had visions of walking along the beach with my partner in tow, barefoot and carefree, surrounded by those that are most dear to us. And that is almost what it will be. Though I will be wearing fancy shoes and the ceremony will overlook the sea from a church atop a cliff, slightly more formal than a beach party. A dream I never envisioned but anxiously anticipate.

In preparation, if you can actually prepare for such a momentous event, we are taking a marriage class as required by the Catholic Church. Little did we both know how insightful and wise would be the teachings, and not solely limited to a religious faith, but a spiritual and universal one. There is much to be gained from looking within yourself and asking questions you might not otherwise ask.

What have I learned thus far? Most of all, how truly essential it is to communicate. Effectively. And the many ways of doing that. And how trying this can often be. (Especially when dealing with all the stress of a wedding!) I remember my mom once telling me that the  most important ingredient in any relationship, aside from love, is communication. (My mom is indeed a smart woman!)

As my journey into plurality continues, I think often of these words. Finally they make sense.       Love is a not merely a feeling but a decision.

The Fairytale

HiP Paris asked me to write a post in honor of Valentine’s Day. How fitting! Considering that it was LOVE that brought me to the ‘City of Love’. Much like a dream (or fairytale) come true.

The Fairytale

The dream of every girl, particularly on Valentine’s Day, is to be swept away by a Prince Charming, into a setting of eternal sunsets and romantic interludes. Does such a fairytale really exist? No, not exactly. But for everyone there does exist a unique love story. It’s simply a matter of time. And meeting the right Prince.

Needless to say, I never stopped believing in fairytales.

I met my ‘Prince’ one late March afternoon in New York City, very fittingly on the corner of Prince Street. It was a chance encounter, provoked by the puppets of destiny. Me, a hopeful romantic who had just returned from a year long journey around the world. He, a passionate Italian living in Paris. The ‘city that never sleeps’ our stage. Now this was the setting for a fairytale.

Five months later I moved to Paris.  To live my story.

It is now eighteen months of a life founded on love, in a city that sets the precedent for romance. Has it always been easy? Not at all. But is has always been a great adventure. Within this time we have experienced many an amorous interlude, in settings including Italy, Corsica and Greece, but it is the place we call home, Paris, that proves the most enchanting. I might add that the summer sunsets do seem to last an eternity. To continue what can certainly be called a fairytale, we are soon getting married. A happy ending that is merely the beginning.

I often reflect upon my life and how thankful I am. To have met him. And to never have stopped to dream.

Many more inspiring stories on life and love in Paris on the HiP Paris Blog.

a love story

The most beautiful love story of my life, other than my own, began many years ago in the early 70’s. It was a meeting of two disparate souls, their paths forever altered by a chance encounter. (Sounds familiar?) My Mom and Dad met in London on the night before my father was to return to America. Little did he know that a woman who introduced herself as Cleopatra, would leave such an impact. What happened in those moments will forever remain a romantic mystery, as it should.

Seven days later the young Polish beauty received a letter from the handsome American gentleman. He was returning to London to see her again. And to propose. They were married three months later, and thus began their life together. Almost to this very day, so many years ago.

It was here in Paris that they spent their honeymoon, my father being a devout Francophile. Three weeks of romance on the left bank. Hotel des 2 Continents on 25 Rue Jacob, to be exact. How fitting! On my many carousings in Saint Germain, I often walk on Rue Jacob and imagine the time my parents spent there, the many places they went, the bistros they dined in, the conversations they had, the first chapter of a the life between a writer and his muse…me, a romantic?

It also happens to be the location of one of my favorite sweets shops in Paris, Laduree. Even more reason to dream, with macaron in hand, as I live my very own love story. Inspired by two romantics.

love affair with Greece: part two

Is there a more spectacular place on earth than Santorini? Perhaps. But I doubt it. This unique landscape was created thousands of years ago by the eruption of a volcano, sinking the centre of the island, revealing a caldera surrounded by multi-colored cliffs. Not to mention the surreal sunsets….

We drove directly to Oia, surely one of the loveliest villages in the Cyclades. With patience, resolve (and a little luck) we found a dwelling nestled into the volcanic rock with a perfect view of the caldera. That is where we chose to stay for three days. In peaceful bliss. Staring at the sea.

It was here that my Italian asked me to share his life with him. I said yes. Was there ever a question?

a place of destiny

Globe-trotting foodie, Francophile, and a woman I greatly admire, Andi Fisher, author of the blog Misadventures with Andi, asked me to write a guest post about my Passion for Paris. I thought a lot about it, not wanting to describe in detail all the clichés that so often come to mind. I decided to write about how living in Paris has always been my destiny, and the path I took to arrive there.

Passion for Paris: a place of destiny

My love affair with Paris began at the age of 7, many years before I knew anything on the subject of love. I listened to my father describe, in such melodic detail, a city in which writers found refuge, artists found inspiration and dreamers found a home. Somehow I knew that one day I too would succumb to it’s lure. Even then, I was a romantic.

My first encounter with Paris was not until my university studies found me in London. With great anticipation, I took myself on a weekend escape to ‘The City of Lights’. Thankfully, I knew early enough in life that it was not prince charming who created the fairytale but ourselves. Though perhaps he was waiting for me across the English Channel.

Upon entering the scene, I fell in love. The centuries old architecture illuminated by antique street lamps, the blue and pink hues of an incomparable sky, the many bridges, each telling a unique story as they transport you from one bank to another. All of this combined to create a mood of timeless enchantment. Those few days in Paris felt much like stepping onto a stage, set from another era. I became lost amidst a tangle of cobbled streets, indulged in many a café crème, and sat for hours in mindful euphoria. Aside from my permanent grin and a lack of French vocabulary, I could have passed for a local. But it was not my time, I was not the star of this performance. Not yet.

My ‘adult’ life commenced and NYC became my home. I held on to my visions of Paris, confident that I would find my way back. I began a career in advertising, made close friends, gained professional experience and reveled in my independence. One such friend became very dear to me. She too happened to be a Francophile, having both lived and loved in Paris in the past. Immediately we began to plot ‘Operation: Pick Up and Move to Paris’, logically of course. We were prepared to put our careers on hold and reduce ourselves to working in a café or perhaps teaching English. I’m not certain whether it was the difficulty of abandoning the corporate ladder or whether a new love had deterred our attention. Needless to say, we never made it to Paris.

It was several years and promotions later that Paris reappeared. I was by this time working at an international advertising agency, living the Madison Avenue dream. By complete chance, I met a Parisian girl who happened to be my counterpart in our Paris office. We got along famously and almost immediately discussed the possibility of exchanging positions in our respective cities. ‘Operation: NYC-Paris Swap’ was put into motion. It seemed the perfect plan until her job situation, simply put, fell apart. Perhaps this was a sign that I was not yet meant to cross the sea.

During my tenth year as a New Yorker, I became much more curious about life in the rest of the world. With little more than a grand appetite for travel and discovery, I packed a bag, bid farewell to the life I had known, and began my greatest journey, to date. Thirteen months spent exploring 32 countries. France of course, being one of them.

Within my ambitious travel itinerary, I allowed myself the luxury of spending one month in ‘The City of Lights’. Perhaps now my passion for this city would finally be satisfied, I would find a home and the journey of a thousand days (400 to be exact) would come to an end. I would become a Parisian.

Alas, that was not the case. Mostly because it’s impossible to become Parisian, especially for someone of my foreign stature.  And to be honest, during this, my seventh trip to Paris, I did not care to. I began to see the city in the light of reality, versus the enticing glow in which it had previously shined. I was not disenchanted, that would have been impossible, but I began to look at Paris as someone from within. I began to notice the social and cultural complexities as well as the formality in the people. I began to see Paris as real. My relationship had finally become intimate. The seduction ended but the love affair continued.

My life resumed in NYC, much richer and more insightful than prior to traveling. I became newly inspired by all things French. I took cooking classes to better understand this highly-revered kitchen, and resumed my language studies. The stage was being set.

And then, one day on my way to yoga on an early Spring evening, the entire path of my life became clear. It appeared in the form of a handsome green-eyed Italian. (But shouldn’t he be French? No, that would be too easy.) Smiles were exchanged, followed by words, followed by a drink, dinner and a promise to return. After all, he lived in Paris.

It took six weeks to fall in love, though who was counting, and another three months to move to Paris. The heart had decided and the head followed suit. I had met the most passionate man of my life and he lived in the most romantic city in the world. Was there even a question?

I am now living what I often considered to be my destiny. It was just a matter of time. I do believe there exists a place in which we feel most ourselves, where our souls can take flight. For me this place is Paris. Not without difficulties, but the myriad of pleasures outweigh the pains. The richness in the culture is undeniable, ever present in the historic sights that line the streets, the enchanting gardens waiting to be discovered, the neighborhood markets displaying regional specialties, the numerous art exhibitions, music and film festivals. I could go on.

To live in Paris is to live within a composition of perpetual charm and beauty. Am I over-romanticizing? Yes indeed, but this is the city of romance, and I am in love.


love in a day

Today marks my anniversary of love. Not the day I met this handsome man so serendipitously on the street, nor the day I arrived to Paris to begin this grand adventure, but the day somewhere inbetween when we both knew our childhood dreams of love had finally been realized. I remember it all so well. The soundtrack to these defining days includes the Cinderella Opera at Lincoln Center followed by a live performance by my most revered blues singer Etta James. At Last! Can it get any more romantic than that? Most of all I remember the words spoken and the feelings shared. The promise of forever, a word that should never be taken lightly, nor ever taken for granted. 

I think about all the days leading towards this one. The act of falling in love, the many  steps along the way, most taken without hesitation or looking back. When something, in the form of someone, feels so natural it is impossible to walk away. In my experience, as the romantic that I am, you must simply allow yourself to be taken, confidant that the who is much more relevant than the how, where and why. The when becomes the day you look back upon and smile, knowing there was no other path.

Love cannot be summed up in a day, or even in a lifetime. Each day should be uniquely cherished and celebrated. How the years will unfold remains a mystery, which days will stand apart from others, making their mark upon the calendar of our lives. Regardless, May 7th will always be our day.

Everyone has their own unique story. Some have yet to experience it (my advice: enjoy the journey until that day finds you). For those willing to tell, which day most symbolizes love for you? (No, Valentine’s Day does not count.)

one year later

It is almost one year since I met him. ‘Him’ being the reason I am living in Paris. So much of life is about timing. The rest is up to us. In the words of my mother, indeed the wisest woman I know, ‘everyone is given a moment in life that can alter its course forever, and it’s what you do in that moment that makes all the difference.’ Either the head or the heart must dictate. I chose the heart.

This is my story in short, to inspire those searching for love amidst the chaos and distraction of a city like NYC, or anywhere in the world for that matter. I met with love on the street, on a late evening in early Spring, in NYC’s Soho neighborhood. In one fortuitous moment two smiles were exchanged. Followed by a drink, followed by dinner (which will remain one of the most defining moments of my life), followed by simple knowing. Perhaps it all began with knowing.

Reflecting on my life, have I ever been one to follow the assigned path? To do what is expected of me? Yes, in regards to my academic and professional life. I climbed the proverbial ladder, so to speak, living 12 years of a highly responsible, moderately corporate, decreasingly satisfying life in NYC. Until I disembarked at a rather advantageous height and abandoned the ladder altogether (here begins my story of traveling the world, an experience that undoubtedly contributed to the status of my current life, to be delved into in later musings…) Back to the path, the vast vista that lies ahead in which all the secrets of our lives are revealed. When it came to love, I simply NEVER followed a path. Born a hopeless romantic who at around the age of 15 decided it wiser to live a life as ‘hopeful’, my heart ALWAYS dictates. For this, I thank my parents.

Every day amidst these foreign tastes and yet undecipherable sounds, I feel fortunate. Whenever appropriate I share my story with like-hearted women, those who for years have reputed love to be something only to read about in romance novels or to watch upon the big screen. (One too many heartbreaks can dissuade even the most diehard of romantics.) In our current state of ‘Generation X’ affairs, the mind often takes precedence over the heart. A career sets the path while love only provides temporary rest stops. I agree that we must follow our own path towards fulfillment, and whatever we consider to be success, but at what cost? Is not love the foundation upon which fulfillment and success is built? Beginning with the love of self.

I believe that you get what you ask for in life, what you truly desire. Often this is not so evident as it’s hidden deeply in our subconscious. But in a moment, or sometimes an entire lifetime of reflection, the answer becomes clear. Sometimes it’s as simple as smiling at a stranger.

to love and to be loved

French novelist George Sand once said “There is only one happiness in life — to love and to be loved.” Ah yes, love. This is the reason I am here, living an unexpected and privileged life in the city of lights. Whenever I feel uncertain of my existence upon this earth, (quite often during these cold, gray wintry months), who I am meant to be and what I am meant to do, I look at the smiling eyes beside me and I am quickly reminded of love. My ‘raison d’être’. An inner peace settles in. It is not the places nor the things but the people that provide the foundation of our lives.

Valentine’s Day. Another day to express the uniquely enabling sentiment of love, amour, amore! I have many sweet memories of this day in my life. Most cherished are those impressionable childhood years when my father would send me V-day cards in the mail, making certain I knew how much I was loved. Surely sentimentality (and corniness) are both traits I inherited. Today, my first Saint Valentin in the city where romance thrives and expressions of affection are visible on every street corner. I wonder what exactly is the difference between this day and all the others. Perhaps there is none, when in love.

an ode to love

 

On rare occasion I am left to my own devices in ‘the city of lights’. Not nearly as much fun to run wild amidst these serene, cobbled streets as in the cacophonous, never-ending avenues of ‘the city that never sleeps’. Or perhaps I have lost that desire to run, and I was never in fact so wild. On such nights when my love is far away, in the company of a glass (or two) of wine and a good camembert, I reflect on the single life I left behind. The endless girls’ nights which left me feeling somewhat pensive but mostly empowered, the numerous dates that left me longing for another girls’ night, and the many unique experiences that never left me. It is these many years of living alone, struggling to find purpose in a single existence without allowing work to dominate (the challenge of most single women in NYC), understanding that there comes a time for everything, that I moved so gracefully from single into double. Simply, I was ready. And in patience and faith, love, in the form of this dear creature with whom I now share my life, had come to ‘rescue’ me, as he playfully calls our chance encounter. Perhaps we rescued each other, just in time to confirm that true love still does exist. (Even I being a hopeful romantic was beginning to have doubts). And now, I can sit in a place I call home, in the quiet of my own breath and feel completely at peace. Happy to be alone for a brief moment, just long enough to appreciate the sensation of love and long for it’s return.

the dream

Love is by no means rational. Nor should it be. Hence my decision to move to Paris. I didn’t think much whether it made sense, given that I didn’t speak French nor did I have any career prospects or know more than 3 people. But what I did have was much greater an achievement than learning a foreign language, much more stimulating than a strange and exciting new culture and indeed more fulfilling than endless girls nights of carousing. I had found my great love, and lucky me, his home was Paris. Had I followed my heart given that his home were in a more remote part of the world, say Knin in Croatia? (He would then be a 6 foot 6 basketball player no doubt). Perhaps then I would have convinced him to move to NYC to play for the NBA, who knows. But that is not my story, nor is it meant to be. My dream has always been Paris. And yes, for the sake of sounding terribly corny, if you believe in your dreams they do come true.

the meeting

For each of us there exist many loves, but only one ‘true love’. Or so my experience has taught me.

As soon as I met him I knew. There was something in his smile, or was it his welcoming eyes. Perhaps it was the warmth that emanated from his entire being. I felt immediately at peace in his presence.

The meeting of our souls took place on the corner of Prince and Crosby streets in New York City. I was enroute to yoga, or perhaps I was subconsciously seeking another form of internal peace. Little did I know what had in the chance moment captured my gaze, soon to be my heart. It was in that moment that I met with my great love. The one for whom you search your entire life (those of us who in fact believe there exists an ideal love). I did just so, living in NYC for 12 years and traveling the world for 13 months…but our paths were not yet meant to cross, until that fortuitous day in mid-March.

As the story goes, our eyes spoke followed by a short exchange of smiles mingled with words. I quickly learned that he was Italian, in search of shoes (and a woman to walk in them with?), and he lived in Paris. His days in NYC were limited as he was soon returning home. We arranged a rendezvous as time was of the essence.

One would think to run into a handsome Italian man living in Paris would lead to a beautiful love story. (Those non-romantic, jaded skeptics would sense danger and run in the opposite direction). Well in fact, it does. Falling in love however, takes time. In this romantic tale, 6 weeks to be exact.