Shortly after Henri and I became an official couple, we quickly moved on to conquering the next romantic level—traveling together. Well, perhaps this is the next logical step in France, which would make sense when you have the canals of Venice, the lavender fields of Provence, or the sexy streets of Barcelona all within an hour’s plane ride away. Who wouldn’t want to take a weekend trip with her lover to one of these places? In the States, I’d say your options are much more limited. It’s not like one day, you’re going to say to your boyfriend, “Honey, I have a great idea! Let’s fly to Ohio for the weekend.” I suppose in the summertime, you might go with your guy to the beach, but somehow for me that doesn’t at all have the same flavor.
It was sometime a few weeks ago when Henri and I were lying in bed and talking about the week to come. We were both stressing out. He hadn’t had a vacation in almost a year, he told me. I also confessed I was feeling a bit burn- out and was in need of some break time. He turned to me and said, “J’ai envie de partir en weekend avec toi.” I want to go away for the weekend with you. (Somehow, it sounds more serious in French.) So we cuddled up to my laptop and began searching destinations. Our top choice was to do a long weekend in Rome and Venice, which at first seemed reasonable, but then appeared not so doable financially with the summer being the height of tourist season. In fact, money is a bit tight for us both at the moment, so I began to think maybe our summer vacation wouldn’t even happen at all. While brainstorming, Henri suggested, “On peut aller chez moi.” We could go to my house. This confused me for a second. Chez moi? Spend the weekend in his apartment? Isn’t that what we were doing right then? Was he making a joke? But then I understood that he meant his parents’ house in the countryside.
Whoa. Meeting the parents. At first this idea didn’t seem like much of vacation, but after he described how awesome and beautiful the town is and how wonderful his parents are, I gave in. The train tickets were cheap, lodging would be free, and with the great outdoors, inexpensive eats and places to swim, we’d hardly have to spend anything once we got there. So next weekend we’re making the trip. I have to say, I’m pretty nervous. I want his parents to like me, naturally. And I’m worried about getting flustered and messing up my French. Or worse, making an error in the category of polite formalities, which can be so confusing in this language. Would I use the formal “vous” when talking to his mother? Or is that unnecessary, and I should start off with the more intimate “tu”? (Henri wasn’t much help in this matter. When I asked him, he said, “Ahhhh that is the eternal question. No one really knows. I can’t answer that for you.”)
Nervousness aside, I’m really looking forward to this trip. Henri’s initiative to plan it demonstrates a mature attitude towards romantic relationships, as well as a healthy, loving relationship with his family. In his eyes: why should meeting his parents be the biggest of deals? There should be nothing wrong with wanting to share with your family the person who means the most to you in your life. I like this mentality — it’s something I wish were adopted more in the U.S.
Anyhow, I have a feeling that this weekend away from Paris will bring us even closer together. Of course, we’re still thinking about that trip to Rome, which will just have to wait a few months. Nothing like anticipation!