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.

NYC

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

 

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?

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.

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.

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.

…to Paris

I arrived to Paris exactly five months since the dinner at which destiny was served me. It was a day long anticipated, seemingly much longer than the time that led to it. Since that day my love had returned twice more, the former visit driven by relentless passion, the latter a cordial family/birthday celebration. In the midst of these visits I had flown to Paris to indulge momentarily in my new life. It was then that we spent our first holiday together in Corsica, a clear indication of our mutual affinity for travel and beauty. But it is here in Paris where the story begins.

from NYC…

Each day prior to my departure is deeply savored, filled with faces and sights that have for so many years composed my life. NYC provided the grounds for me to become. It is the ideal city in which to discover yourself, if you can in fact find enough discipline and awareness not to become someone else. It is difficult to imagine that the streets and the scenes are soon going to change, the Empire State Building which I had woken up to for so long will soon turn into the Eiffel Tower.

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 hopeful optimist

Like most seasoned women in NYC, having lived many stories strewn with incidental tales of love, I still needed to be convinced. This was undeniably a request by my latent realist who had apparently awoken. Our time had ended. The memories of him lingered sweetly on my mind, from the last farewell merely days and blocks away from our first hello. He had promised to return, soon, to continue our story. My confident and curious eyes found in him the same sincerity I had initially welcomed.

I was often told to act passively and allow the man to prove himself. Needless to say I am not one to follow the rules, but I did distance myself, as far away as an ocean, all the while the ‘hopeful optimist’. Is there any other way to be?

dinner of destiny

From the first drink that night in March we spoke with a unique fluidity about traveling experiences and the beautiful mysteries of life. Simply, it felt easy. I felt well and warm with this Italian man. He was at once engaging, funny, kind and adoring. But the characteristic that appealed most to me was that he was genuine. This I knew from his eyes.

Two days later we met for dinner. We were both filled with an eager anticipation and a feeling of knowing. It is often not about what is said but what is felt.