365 Days In Paris: An Update From Our American Girl In Paris (Who’s Back In America Now)

Chers amis,

It’s been a while since we last chatted. Last time, I was saying farewell to my 365 Days in Paris blog. Ending the blog was a tough choice especially because so much good stuff was going on in my life—I’d finished up my first year in Paris, was heading onto the next, and had finally met an amazing guy, “Henri.” But I just had a feeling that because things were going well that it was time to live my life offline. I so enjoyed hearing your advice and comments each week, and was pleasantly surprised to hear from Amelia that some of you had actually been asking about me. Moi? I’m touched. So, here’s my update for you.

I’ll start with the end: I’m not in Paris anymore. But here’s how I got where I am: Henri and I spent a pretty idyllic summer together (except for my excruciatingly long three week visit to NYC). In July, we went to Burgundy because it just so happened my friend’s husband’s family has a château. It’s weird: lots of French families just have châteaus. Granted, most of them are pretty run-down, but still. We spent about a week there with a whole crew of American friends, playing music, cooking, eating, eating, and eating. We also went to Henri’s parents’ house near the Alps quite a bit and I really got to know his family more.

Because our relationship was still new, I put off telling Henri that I would probably be going back to the States, but that all came up sometime near the end of summer when I realized renewing my visa (I was still planning to do this anyhow) was going to be a more difficult task that even obtaining the first visa. It was at that point that I said, “Well, I may be going home,” and he said, “Well, I’ll follow you.”

Our lives magically co-incided when right around Christmastime Henri was finishing his internship and would be looking for a new job, and my lease was up. So we decided to make the move to Los Angeles.

Why L.A.? I had been certain I would return back to NYC after Paris, but I realized I wanted to start over again (I think I may be addicted to this). Henri had never been to L.A. but is laidback and was enthused about the idea (and he now loves it here). My sister is out here and it just so happened that I’d have more work here. And so I left for L.A. on January 6th, with Henri to follow on February 1st.

I must have amazing apartment karma because I fell into an awesome deal right away: a one-bedroom in idyllic Silver Lake. It has a small office, the French doors in the bedroom give way to a patio, and … there’s a hot tub. So I totally lucked out there. Next came the car, which was a weirdly emotional moment. I’m still nervous driving around town, but am slowly adjusting. People do ask me if I miss Paris, and it’s a complicated response. If you really want to know, there’s more here.

As for Henri and I … we’re entering month 11 of our relationship. We knew that he could legally stay in the U.S. for 90 days, which is not a lot of time to job hunt in this economy. We both knew this move would be difficult and (likely) problematic for us. Unfortunately, Henri has not found a job and has a ticket home at the end of April, which leaves us both feeling sad and confused. He can come back again after three months, and I plan on making a visit to France in the summer, but moving forward from that will be difficult if he can’t obtain a visa.

Yes, the marriage thing has been discussed and sometimes it seems like a good idea. But most of the time I feel I don’t want to let go of my long-held desire of having a real proposal and planning a real wedding (not really an option when you marry a foreigner—you have only three months to do it from the time the fiancé visa is issued). It’s just too big to contemplate right now. That being said, I am constantly amazed by Henri’s faith to me. He always reassures me that we’ll find a way and that I’d never lose him and that he wouldn’t give me up without a struggle. And I guess I do know successful relationships where the couple has gone through a rough, transcontinental patch. But in the end I think: people who want to be together be together. So that’s what will happen if it happens.

I wish I could tell you more romantic things. You were probably hoping for a dreamy update about how beautiful Paris is in the spring, how amazing it is to kiss over a bottle of wine, how we spend weekends exploring the cobblestoned streets of the Marais. But things now are romantic in their own way as we discover our local restaurants, take walks in the hills, and play hooky from work to go to Disneyland. It has its own charm, and for the time being I’m happy. So maybe for the first time ever, I’m living in the present tense.