365 Days In Paris: The Big Picture?

Christmas Day I woke up in an unfamiliar bed with a pounding headache. The hell? Where the eff am I? Then it all came rushing back: glass after glass of champagne at a boat cabaret on the Canal de la Villette singing along to Judy Garland songs. Most random Christmas Eve ever.

I snorted out loud—well, this would have to be the first time I woke up in a stranger’s bed and didn’t do something I regretted.

I closed my eyes again, trying to re-piece the evening. Where did it all start? Oh right, new friend Emily had invited me to this concert, and we’d had dinner at her apartment beforehand where we commenced with a bottle of champagne and a delicious squash/spinach/pasta dish she’d made. Then off to the boat where we were treated to free booze because her friends were the ones who put on the act.

At the end, it had been like an awkward but good third date …Standing outside and shivering, I looked at my watch and said, “I guess I should get home … ” obviously fishing for a cue from her. “Well, we still have a bottle of wine at my house, if you want to come over. You can sleep over too if you want.” I got that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you start to really like someone, and you can tell that they like you just as much. If Emily had been a guy, it would have been the moment I knew we’d sleep together. We didn’t—I crashed in her roommate’s bed—but once back at her place and well into that bottle of red, we had crossed into a new zone of friendship that can only be expedited by drunkenness. All of a sudden we were having deep conversations about men, talking about our fears and worries, and wondering what the hell we were doing with our twenties in Paris anyhow?

I was glad to finally have someone my age and more in my situation than other friends here (who are either in Paris for school or for men—two things I can’t really relate to). Our conversation Christmas Eve (uh, what I can remember of it) made me realize that I have been floundering a bit, and it’s probably time to add some more purpose into my life. Over the past few months, I’ve given into laziness and indulgence, which I’ve rationalized by saying, “You’re in Paris” or “You deserve this break from everything.” Yet, I’ve recently felt that spending your spare time watching television, drinking, and staring at people in cafes can only keep you entertained and afloat for so long.

I’m not the type to make resolutions because I know I’m not one to keep them, but for the first time in my life, I feel like I’m older, or at least getting there, and that it’s time to make certain promises to myself. Twenty-five is around the corner, and I start to wonder, “What do you have to show for it?” (Plenty, I know, but … ) So after New Year’s, I hope to see a new side of Leo, which is why I came here in the first place.

I’ve started by enrolling in a French course, thanks to Emily, who has been attending the same language school for a while. The class is affordable yet slightly intense, so I’m hoping it will put my brain back to work and restart my intellectual passions so that I write and read more outside of work. This class is also filled with young people, so who knows who I’ll meet. But either way, I’ve resolved to “get myself out there” more. This, of course, has a sexual element, which I’m told you shouldn’t go looking for (because you won’t find it). But I realize how closed off I am sometimes—scared to look (cute) strangers in the eye, or approach guys in bars.

This positive, forward-thinking mindset has already given me some new hope and inspiration. However, it does start to make me think about the “big picture.” I’m never sure if thinking this way is a healthy thing. Should I live entirely in the moment and wait to see what the future has in store? Or should I be doing all I can to consider and plan my options? And when it comes to that, there are so many scenarios in my head, some of which I must admit are concocted out of loneliness. What if I met a guy here, would that change my decision to stay (probably). What if I applied for grad school in Amsterdam where my ex-love Alex lives? (Seriously, what the f**k is wrong with me—I have done everything to try and get him out of my head.) What if I go to grad school here and then realize halfway through that it was a huge mistake? Or what if I keep living the same pretty awesome life I’m living now?

Please tell me this is normal for hitting that mid-twenties mark. I think it is. I just wish I knew what being successful at that point means.