The Dream Life of Amy Thomas

I liked Amy Thomas the moment I met her. Not simply because she arrived to Paris from NY (though us New Yorker’s do tend to stick together). Perhaps we bonded due to our careers in advertising or passion for writing. No. Amy is a dreamer. A romantic. A thinker. Above all, a lover of all things sweet, as she has so appropriately coined herself Sweet Freak. In her blog God, I love Paris Amy shares her nearly two-year long love affair with Paris, where she has always dreamed to live. But some romances are not meant to last. I will allow Amy to explain, in the name of love.

Can one question change your life?

I’m willing to bet a 25-piece box of Jean-Paul Hevin bonbons on it.

In 2008, I was sitting in my office, living what I considered to be a pretty dreamy life. I was single, owned my own place in the East Village, and was braving New York’s dating world. I had a great group of friends, and I liked my job as an advertising copywriter. But I loved my moonlighting dalliances even more: exploring and writing about sweets. Life was good: easy, fun, comfortable. Then my ad agency’s in-house recruiter walked into my office and nonchalantly asked:

What do you think about Paris?

Let me just pause and say—I am obsessed with Paris. Almost as obsessed as I am with sweets. So when the recruiter revealed that the Paris office of my international agency was looking for an English-speaking writer to work on the Louis Vuitton account, my first question was how soon could I leave? Of course I wanted to go live in Paris and work with one of the best fashion houses in the world. What Louboutin loving, Coco worshipping, macaron addict wouldn’t?

The only thing holding me back from the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) was several months of bureaucracy. Five long months of waiting, the papers were finally in place (a little preview to the pace of life in Paris). I packed my laptop, clothes and black tabby cat, and then gulped, vigorously nodding my head as my doorman reminded me on the way out, “It’s like business and pleasure. You’re getting paid to do what you love.” Indeed, I was off to live my dream.

And a dream it’s been. Especially the first six months. Having arrived in early March, each new day was a little bit longer and brighter. Spring turned into summer—a beautiful and balmy season when the sun didn’t set until 10 p.m. I became an instant Velib addict, to say nothing of the sweets. I cruised from Les Petits Mitrons in the 18eme to Du Pain et des Idées in the 10eme. From Blé Sucré in the 12eme to Pain du Sucré in the 4eme. From Michel Chaudun to Michel Cluizel; from Ladurée to Pierre Hermé; Les Deux Abeilles, Stohrer, Le Patisserie de Reves… there was to be no viennoiserie, gateau or bonbon unsampled by me. After all, I told myself, biking from sweet spot to sweet spot, this was a great way to get to know my new hometown. Which was true. But as familiar as I became with each arrondissement’s best patisseries and chocolatiers, and their closest Velib stations, many of the city’s customs, codes of conduct and unspoken rules were still foreign to me.

And then the inevitable happened. After a prolonged honeymoon phase, I crashed. Hard. Summer had turned into fall, which turned into a long, dark winter. My beautiful city was suddenly cold and alienating. Not being able to communicate with the postmaster or dry cleaner was no longer a challenge that I approached as sort of fun and charming, but, rather, left me feeling totally defeated. Which just made me miss my friends, family and comfortable, easy life back in New York.

But I plodded on. With work (pulling longer hours than I ever did in New York). With French lessons (often swallowing cries of frustration when I couldn’t wrap my tongue around those R’s). With making friends (though this—gasp!—entailed befriending almost exclusively other expats as I couldn’t get a proper Parisian to give me the time of day). I willed myself to be tough. To stay strong. To smile, even if it made me look like an American dork. But mostly I lamented my lost love. I just wanted to feel moved by Paris the way I once had.

In hindsight, I know it was a perfectly natural cycle. Even the best affairs cool down at some point. After that initial head-over-heels infatuation, the ho-hum reality sets in and the daily grind is no longer sexy or romantic. Even in Paris. So after a season of sulking and consoling myself with a ridiculous amount of bonbons, I reset my expectations for a more “real” relationship with the city.

And now, the love affair continues. I cram my days with observing and writing, eating and drinking, Velib’ing and, toujours, ogling and sampling the sweets. And I have wonderful friends to share the meals, wine, stories and moments with. I’m a happy, lucky girl and I love every day that I’m here.

Because… all good things must come to a close. As mad as I am for Paris, I’m returning to my first love. New York is calling my name. It’s not been an easy decision, but I know it’s time to go home. And instead of looking at Paris or New York as an “either/or” option, I see it as “both”. Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it too.

Paris will dearly miss Amy and her ‘joie de vivre‘, even the vélibs will feel the loss. Not to mention the pâtisseries! But her sweet life continues in New York. And lucky us to be able to read all about it in her upcoming book to be released in March 2012, a merging of God, I love Paris and Sweet Freak. Sounds like an ideal union to me!

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15 Comments

  1. Susan December 18, 2010

    What an amazing story, and experience! I know so many women (including me) who would cut off an arm to walk in her shoes. However, I can understand that after a while the luster and sheen on Paris would dull, and it wouldn’t be as magical. I will continue to read her blog, and look forward to the book!

    Reply
  2. andrea@3samovar December 18, 2010

    i follow amy’s blog and must admit i felt a certain “tristesse” reading of her moving on!
    but i wish her all the best and look forward to reading her book!

    Reply
  3. Lindsey December 19, 2010

    Amy is a wonderful storyteller, I have no doubt her forthcoming book will be a huge success! I expect an autographed copy, however.

    Loved reading her tale and suspect this isn’t the last time we or Paris will be seeing her (sweets in hand)!

    Reply
  4. Melissa December 19, 2010

    I had the great good fortune of being introduced to Amy by a mutual friend when she first arrived in Paris. In the ensuing months, she became one of my dearest friends. She is an extraordinary woman. She multitasks with astounding intellect and effortless grace, and remains, unbelievably humble and elegant in the face of her many, and ever increasing, glowing accomplishments. Most of all, she is a terrific friend.

    I, and Paris will miss her daily voice and presence immeasurably, but we both wish her the happiest, and most sweet-covered of trails.

    Reply
  5. Sion @ paris (im)perfect December 20, 2010

    You have become a true Paris treasure, Miss Amy Thomas! We are going to miss you! But you have made so much of your time here and I know this is not the last the City of Light has seen of you. (And as someone whose first love is also New York, I can also understand the desire to go back.) Keep dreaming and living, girl. New dreams and a new chapter in life. Can’t wait for your book!

    Reply
  6. […] The dream life of Amy Thomas in Paris and New York […]

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  7. Karin (an alien parisienne) December 20, 2010

    How wonderful this story is! I have heard most of it before, but to read it here in its completeness, and in writing that shines, is a joy. I have a “complicated” relationship with Paris — sometimes it is one of intense annoyance. I often want to harp on how all the things Amy loves and mentions in the post get up my nose — that there is *too* much emphasis on these “typical” things in Paris (the food, the clothes, the well-traveled paths…). But reading Amy’s blog and getting to know her in person has inspired me. She is so goshdarn authentic and pure in her passion for the city, it is truly contagious. Her spirit is so genuine in her adoration that she makes even a Paris cynic/naysayer like me smile and catch the fever of Paris love.

    I will miss her gentle encouragement to love this old city that some days makes me cringe. But I cannot wait to read her words in her upcoming book. I know they will inspire me to love Paris more. 🙂

    Safe travels, dear Amy, and bon courage!

    Reply
  8. Karin (an alien parisienne) December 20, 2010

    (P.S. Kasia: Thank you, too, for featuring/hosting this story here. It was really wonderful to read it here. 🙂 )

    Reply
    • Kasia December 26, 2010

      It was my pleasure. Best to you in 2011!

      Reply
  9. Sweet Freak December 21, 2010

    Awww – merci for the generous comments, mes amies. Here’s to an incredible 2011 for all of us! xo

    Reply
  10. parisbreakfast December 22, 2010

    Love it!
    I wish you were staying on…maybe they will send you back soon.
    I’m no good at facing reality but if there can be one lucky break why not another?

    Reply
  11. […] The dream life of Amy Thomas in Paris and New York […]

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  12. Cat January 10, 2011

    I can so relate to the push-pull of Paris! And how hard a decision it must have been to stay or go. I hear the siren song of NY calling often too! I am truly sorry we never had the chance to meet up but I look forward to reading about your sweet adventures on your blog. Best of luck on your book and please look me up next time you are in Paris! Cat x

    Reply
  13. […] The dream life of Amy Thomas in Paris and New York […]

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  14. Paris, My Sweet February 6, 2012

    […] Amy Thomas. A writer, ad girl and francophile from New York City with a highly refined palate (and appetite) for sweets. A woman after my own heart! As fate would have it, our paths were meant to cross in Paris, where she auspiciously found herself writing ad copy for prestigious client Louis Vuitton. Pas mal! Upon meeting Amy, I immediately sensed an authenticity in her character, natural warmth, and a passion for life. Yes, we would have been friends in New York. Getting to know Amy through our shared experience of Paris, only proved that my instincts were correct. On one of these occasions, during her Croissant Smackdown (a tasting of Paris’ best buttery delicacies), Amy mentioned that she was just awarded a book deal on a project she had been working on. Sweet! I couldn’t wait to read her memoir, as only a true New Yorker in Paris could tell it. […]

    Reply

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