365 Days In Paris: Giving Merci
I keep forgetting that the French don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. When it occurred to me last week that the holiday was around the corner, I wasn’t sure what made me more depressed: A) Celebrating in Paris with some bastardization of the meal—I picture foie gras stuffing or turkey cassoulet; B) Not being with my family; or C) Leaving Paris to be with my family. I’d have to go with C … it’s been nearly three months since I arrived, but I only just feel like I’m settling, and the thought of going back to the U.S. right now leaves me scared that it would somehow break the magic of everything.
Lucky for me, I got the perfect compromise. My sister and her husband decided last minute to come over for a visit, so I’m pumped to spend the week with them not eating turkey, and gorging myself instead on gooey cheeses, crêpes, and butter-infused dishes (as if that’s any change from my diet now). The only issue—American Boy is expecting to meet them. Uh, what? American Boy and I saw each other only once last week. We seem to go so hot and cold on the are-we-or-aren’t-we together thing. It was last Wednesday when we got together for a late-ish drink. We met up around 9:30 on the Rue Mouffetard, where the party scene was in high gear. Apparently, Algeria has just won a soccer match and had qualified for the World Cup. And when things like this happen, people go insane, driving around Paris honking like crazy, waving flags, and yelling out car windows. As I sat by a fountain waiting for AB, the male testosterone level was incredibly perceptible. So it didn’t surprise me that as I saw AB approaching, he stopped to cheer with a group of dudes. “Allez, allez, les gars!” he yelled. Yeah, guys, go, go go! “Woooo! Algérie!” I winced and smiled at the same time. AB is so outgoing and it’s baffling to me how he manages to strike up conversations with people anywhere. But on the other hand, he can be a bit rowdy. Next to him, I seem like a reserved priss.
He sauntered up to me, expertly sneaking his hands past my coat to grab my waist and kiss me. OK, so now we greet with a kiss on the lips, I thought. Does that mean he’s getting more serious?
“Hey, so I brought some friends, I hope that’s cool,” he said, motioning to a guy and a girl catching up to us. Normally, I would have been peeved that a suitor would invite others along on what should have been a date, but I was, in fact, relieved. I’ve been really good at going with the flow with American Boy, and surprises like this seem to keep the tone light between us. Of course, it was once we settled down in a bar that I realized we were on a double date. Oh jeez. The thought of it immediately made me feel uncomfortable, but as AB led the conversation, rubbed my back, and sneaked kisses from me throughout the evening, all I could think about was getting him home and getting closer.
When I woke up in the morning, I found myself perfectly snuggled up into the crook of American Boy’s shoulder. I like cuddling, but when it comes to sleep time, I’ve never, ever been able to spoon and sleep, or even let anyone else touch me. Strange, I thought, realizing that every time I woke up in the night, we would find ourselves intertwined somehow—him with an arm draped across my waist, me with my head on his chest as a pillow, or even facing each other, embraced in a hug. Had that all really happened? Wow. Does that mean something? It made me feel good, for sure. Don’t think about it, don’t analyze, I reminded myself.
I knew the coming days and week would present a problem for us. As AB was getting dressed to go to work, he began to think plans through.
“So … we’ll hang this weekend?” he asked.
“Actually, I can’t. I’m going to Normandy,” I said. I’d only made the plans two days before. I guess it had slipped my mind to let him know.
“Oh, that’s a bummer. So I guess next week then?”
“Ah. Well … that’s when my sister is coming. So, I don’t know if I’ll really be free …”
“Cool! Well we can all do dinner or something. Double date, right?” Again?!
“Uh, yeah, sure, maybe,” I spit out, not knowing what to say.
Oh God. AB wants to meet my family. Maybe he thinks introductions like that are more casual. But for me? I’m not sure. While I tell my sister everything about the guys I’m seeing, I’ve only introduced her and her husband to two because I knew they would all have things in common with him or she would adore him. The thought of having her meet AB? What would I say? “Hey, sis, meet AB, the guy I’m screwing but have no idea if he cares about me at all or wants a relationship.” Classy. Still, as AB squeezed me into a hug at the door, jokingly lifting me up, I took it under consideration.
Until, that is, later that night when something happened that made me totally change my mind.
At around 7 p.m., my land line rang. I use it for making outgoing calls to avoid the expensive rates on my cell, but I normally don’t pick it up because it’s always annoying French telemarketers. This time, however, I randomly answered.
“Allô, uh, bonsoir, uh, est-ce qu’il y a une fille Emily chez vous?” Huh? I automatically realized the caller was not French, and had to be American. Was this the owner of my apartment? (Americans, apparently.) Was this someone looking for the girl who lived here before? Or someone who had gotten my name wrong?
“Comment? Qui?” I responded.
“Uh, une fille, Emily—”
“Huh? What? Yeah. Who is this?”
“It’s Leo. You’re calling my land line”
“Ohhhhh. Wow, that’s really weird.” He laughed nervously. “I saw this number in my missed calls and thought it might be my friend who’s coming into town this weekend. I don’t know her number.”
“Yeah, Emily. My, uh, friend.”