Risky Behavior

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                                                         “But I am young so it is OK!”

I can not tell you how many times I have told this to my mom and dad when begging for their approval on a request we all know is a little risky. More times then not the risk ends in reward and all is well.

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Just last night by best friend here in Paris called me because he wanted my advice on a risk he was about to take. As long as his life or others lives are not in immediate danger I am always one to say “YESSS,” like Bethenny Frankel (an idol of mine) I come from a place of yes. I rarely see the harm in trying something for the first time even if it is outside your comfort zone.

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I don’t know about the rest of you but when I am faced with a choice I always call two people, someone I know will be on my side and say “Do it!” and a rational friend who will grill me on the pros and cons and then at the end ask “Are you really sure this is a smart choice?”(usually this is mom and dad). By calling these two helpful but every different people I can get more of a grounded opinion and not let my emotions sway me one way or the other too much.

The age factor is a whole different story because younger people are more likely to take risks as they have less to lose. So if you are like me with nothing tying you down or even if you have the pleasures of responsibilities in your life take a risk today. Do something outside your comfort zone and grow yourself a little. Then tell me what you did? How did it work out? Did you gain from the risk you took and if not can you still benefit from the outcome?

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…Like Crazy

It might not have been everything I wanted but it turned out to be everything I needed. When a young girl travels abroad something that graces every bucket-list is finding love. Whether that is a romantic French boy, a dark Spanish lover, or a masculine sensitive Irishmen, we all know we dream about it.Them whisking us away to the best tourist spots and the even better holes in the wall. Ending up in a cafe somewhere just talking and laughing, bathing in our goofy accents. At least for me when I hear the best way to really understand a culture and a language is to immerse yourself my mind always drifts to being on the arm of a native, surrounded by his closest friends and family, almost a wallflower if you will. 

How can we not paint this picture of summer romance, a story we will tell our grandchild when they ask about what we did when we were growing up, when on the 9 hour plane rides we are forced to watch movies like P.S. I Love You, or the Sundance winner for best film Like Crazy (I highly recommend it!). We have it drilled into our heads that some of the best love can be found abroad because it is short and sweet but timed and intense.

Then at some point we have to face the music. How likely is it that we run into some extremely handsome man a few years our elder on the metro and he just happens to be so caught up in our beauty that he makes a move (a subtle one of course) and starts to chat us up only to later invite us to a classy dinner party at his delicate yet modern apartment.

For me I might have had these grand illusions but they were swimming somewhere in the back (way back) of my mind. No one wants to face the disappointment when the fairy tale doesn’t come true and we all know it is a one in a million chance.Something I learned though this summer about short term love abroad, it doesn’t have to be as intensive and emotional as the movies to be right. It really doesn’t even have to be love for it to be just perfect. 

This is where my story comes in.

Met him at a karaoke bar through some American friends who had met his friends at a club the night before. We were both plus ones at the karaoke bar so naturally we were talking nothing special, no love at first sight not even lust at first sight just another normal night. As the drinks were flowing, so were the conversations and the dancing. I found myself outside smoking a cig with him when I mentioned I had to go to the bathroom. That was his chance to make his move if he was going to and he did. He said “I have to go too, I will come with you” and we went back inside and downstairs, separate stalls (I all not going 50 shades of grey here on you). I came out to wash my hands and he was doing the same and he turned to me and landed a soft kiss right on my lips. After a little makeout sess we headed back upstairs acting as if nothing happened.

I took him home with me that night, it was a Wednesday mind you so I did have to wake up in the morning at 8 and drag myself to work. I thought oh he looks so peaceful sleeping I will just let him sleep. About ten minutes after I left my place I thought that was probably the dumbest move I could make. My macbook, my passport, my camera, the apartment itself. The list of things that could have been stolen or ruined was scrolling on repeat in my brain.  Why would I just leave a stranger in my place? Let’s just say the clock at work was mocking my idiotic-ness by ticking as slow as possible. I got home and everything was just as I left it except cute boy form the bar was gone. I didn’t expect to hear from him or see him again, because I didn’t even think we exchanged numbers. We did. He texted me later that day.

He started coming over on the weekends. Even though I wanted him to take me to the Eiffel Tower and out to dinner I didn’t mind his honesty. He even said (in his broken yet cute English) if he would have done everything I wanted him too like show me around Paris I would have fallen in love with him and that was not practical. He was so right. We kept it simple no pet names, no obligatory dates, no definite plans (he did take me to Normandy for the weekend, a story for another time).

So what was so perfect about this almost non-existent relationship? Was it his laugh? The way his said the word “promise” in English? or was it his sheer honesty? No games, no bullshit, no expectations just me and him. 

His English was bad enough that any deep conversation would be too hard to sort though. He did tell me his dad passed away of lung cancer and all about the girl he feel in love with two years ago but lost. We had the perfect balance between easy going and serious.It just felt right. I wasn’t in love with him but I did love him as a person.

On the last night I saw him, he said he wished he would have given me something so that I would always remember him. In my head I thought you gave me so much more then I could have asked for, you didn’t give me this perfect storybook summer love but what you gave me was real. It was friendship yes, but it was amazing.

Not only did I pick up some French swear words but I learned love and friendships don’t have to be anywhere close to how we picture them for it to be everything we need. It is amazing to me how a simple two month relationship with someone can really change the way you look at things. I think people try to force relationships into a mold they have created prior to the beginning and that is why nothing ever works out.

It might not have been everything I wanted but it turned out to be everything I needed.

And for that JP I thank you.

When in Rome

So it is Friday in France (as well as everywhere else) and because there is a saying for every situation I thought I would use the most appropriate one… “When in Rome do as the Romans do.” Now even though today is just another Friday tomorrow is a Saturday with a lot of potential for fun. Tomorrow is July 14 or Bastille Day here in France, for those of you who do not know it is their Independence day. As an 18 year old girl raised in the suburbs of Chicago, I have spent all of my fourth of July’s at the lake house  with the grandparents (sparklers in hand) watching fireworks on the boat or BBQing with friends at big backyard parties. This being the first year out of the states during her oh-so-deserving birthday party, I think tomorrow I will let my hair down and do a little celebrating (even if it is for the wrong country).

The traditions we have as families, communities, and countries are very comforting, especially when you stay in one place your whole life. The moment you decide to step outside your comfort zone is the moment you “lose” those traditions. Obviously they will always be in your heat but as for physically carried out, they go away. Losing these traditions goes hand in hand with losing that comfort I mentioned earlier.

So here I am left in a foreign country with a big hole in my heart, wanting to chow down on a chi-town style hotdog and nap on the couch with the numbingly awful but always comforting cubbies on TV in the background. But lets be honest I am not just going to sulk around my smaller then a shoebox apartment, no no no.

Here is where the words of wisdom come in from before “When in Rome….” Though it might not be MY countries holiday, I will celebrate it like it is my own damn birthday. When we are faced with vulnerable situations like missing out on things back home or feeling like an outsider at the disco-tech on the Champs de Mars my best advice is fake it until you make it. Dance like a french kid ( I learned you can spot an American girl dancing from a mile away…we are the ones with our arms above our heads flailing around like fish out of water). Smoke a cig (one wont kill you). Drink wine with OUT the American intention of getting “fucked up.” Speak as much French as you possibly can even if all you know is OHLALA (it is a great start). Make it a goal to introduce yourself to at least five native speakers ( possibly take a few numbers home (: ).

The point is even though I am a 9 hour plane ride from the comfort and safety of my mom and dad, that is not an excuse to stop living or stop trying. The world has so much to offer each and every one of us. Why not go out there and take what we can?