Je t’aimais: Part Seven

Hugs and Well Wishes

We were finally at the airport! I couldn’t wait to get on that plane and fly off to a semester in Rennes, France. A dream come true!

My mom, sister, fiancé, and future mom-in-law were all there to wish me safe travels and to steal a final hug before I made my way through airport security. Of course, my mom didn’t want to let me go; I had assured her over and over that I would be safe, make good decisions, and keep in touch. My sister pushed passed my fiancé to give me another hug as she whispered some joke in my ear about our mom. We laughed together with our little secret, like we had done a thousand and one times before. Then I turned to Judy to give her a hug. She and I were already very close; I considered myself lucky to have a future-in-law whom I was friends with.

Then it was my fiancés turn. The others gave us a little space; this was kind of unexpected because our parents usually watched up like hawks. I knew exactly what the Bennet girls must have felt like. It’s hard to let a relationship grow under the nose of chaperones… He hugged me, I was genuinely sad to be leaving him. We were used to distance, going to universities on opposite sides of the state, but not being about to text or call whenever I needed him would be hard.

I could tell he was upset, he was always trying to change my mind, but I needed to do this. I needed to get out of Ohio, even if just for one semester. We got in a few more kisses before the terminal began to fill with travelers. I gave my family and future family one last look before turning towards the security lines and departing for France.

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Date a Girl Who Teaches

I don’t teach young children, but I think many of these can describe a middle school or even high school teacher!

Sentiments from the Heart

This might sound self-serving or even redundant after I posted the entry Date a Girl Who Reads. Nonetheless, I would like to share this entry with you. Enjoy!

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Date a girl who teaches children. Date a girl who enjoys more in a bookstore for school supplies and children’s books rather than in make-up store. She has problems with storage space because she has too many trinkets and storybooks to keep. Date a girl who has a list of stories that she wants to have and read, who has a collection of Aklat Adarna, Leo Lionni and Eric Carle’s books.

 

Find a girl who teaches. You’ll know that she does because she always carries supersized bags. She’s the one who has everything in her tote. From art-project glitter materials to wet wipes. She has to carry her laptop almost everyday and all those papers and booklets that only…

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Je t’aimais: Part Six

 Long Walk Home

We met back up with our friends in front of Le P’tit Vélo. It must have been nearly 4:00 in the morning. I had no idea where the time went, but just at that moment I realized that the cute black heels I was wearing had taken their toll on my feet and the air around me was cold.

“Où habitez-vous?” French James Dean asked, wondering where Kayla and I lived. He spoke absolutely no English, which at first was charming, but that late in the night my brain was not up to the challenge. Together, Kayla and I managed to describe where our host parents lived on the northeast part of town.

French James Dean looked guilty and sad. He explained that he and his friend had plans in Paris the next day and needed to catch the first train out of Rennes. Because Gare de Rennes, the train station, was south of the town center, the guys had to go straight there.

French James Dean pulled me aside, “Je suis très content de faire ta connaissance, je souhaite je peut rester près de toi,” he kissed my cheeck, “peut-être, on peut revoir quelque jour…” just then, his friend pulled him away.

Kayla and I were left in Place de St. Anne with no ride, no bus, and a 30-minute walk home. Now I was really regretting that shoe choice. I was quiet, but a million thoughts were swirling in my head and butterflies fluttering in my stomach.

“So…where did you guys go off to? What did you do?” Kayla interrogated me as we started the long walk home. Before I had the chance to answer her, we heard loud footsteps approaching quickly. I turned around and there was French James Dean. He was a little out of breathe, but he was able to ask for my phone.

“Voilà, mon numéro. S’il te plait, m’envoies un texto quand tu arrive chez toi, j’ai besoin de savoir que vous êtes saines et sauves.” He handed the phone back to me, his hand lingered on mine for some time before he ran back to catch up with his friend. I guess if he couldn’t escort us back home, the least he could do was give me his number.

“Wow, he must really like you!” Kayla exclaimed.

“Yeah I guess…” He must really like me, I thought, not sure if it was out loud or not.

We continued walking down Rue d’Antrain. Kayla and I kept talking and walking, before I knew it, we were turning the last corner and our houses we only a few more steps away. I looked down at my phone; French James Dean’s number looked so foreign to me, as did his nickname… Flo.

“So, are you going to tell him?” Kayla asked as we reached her house.

“Who?”

“Your fiancé…”

How Jesus screwed up my love life…

That may be a bit harsh, after all, it wasn’t exactly Jesus who was the third wheel, it was the institution of religion that changed the course of my relationship.

Before I continue, I am a Christian and this post is not meant to hurt anyone, I just want to point out a downside to a particular Christian practice.

My fiance, well, he’s my ex now, is a devote Christian. He is easily the most kind, most God-fearing man I have ever met. During college, he went home every weekend, not only to work at the part-time job he had at the small-town pharmacy, but also so that he could go to church with his momma. It was this part of him that drew me to Christ. How could anybody be so positive, such a good person all of the time? Jesus. That’s the only answer I needed…at the time.

After fours years of dating, he was half-way through college and I had just finished my freshman year at Miami University, he proposed. We were smart, we were mature, but we were always apart. This distance, of course, was also a factor in our separation, but it was what happened, or what wasn’t allowed to happen, whenever we were together that caused some problems.

As part of the Christian religion, and frankly most religions are guilty of this, a couple who is unmarried are not permitted to sleep with one another. Now, I completely understand that telling high school students, or even immature college kids, that you should wait to have sex until marriage is valid, though not very practical. Anyway, it wasn’t even not being able to have sex that was bugging me, it was not being trusted, it was never having alone-time, it was sneaking around to steal a few kisses.

Both of us we old enough to drink, we lived in off-campus apartments when we were at school, we bought our owe groceries, we paid our owe bills… But when we were finally together after weeks, heaven forbid we be allowed to hold each other as we slept.

After 6 and a half years of dating, our relationship had barely been able to grow beyond a high-school-sweetheart level. Of course, this isn’t the only factor in our break-up, but it definitely had an impact… at least on me.

This isn’t just a rant, it’s a reminder to my future self to not harm a young love by trying to protect innocence based on traditions from Biblical times. They may have worked then, but this is the 21st century. You wouldn’t expect people, for example, to make dinner without using a microwave or electric stove just because Jesus didn’t. So, why shouldn’t our social customs grow and change?

Je t’aimais: Part Five

Pocket Change for a Rose

Against the side of the church, in the shadow of this old building hidden from passersby, he continued kissing me.*

“Ça va ?”

I liked the gentlemanly way he kept checking to see that I was OK. Though I repeatedly said “oui,” truthfully, I don’t know if I was; I let go of my worries and hoped regret wouldn’t find me in the morning.

He reached for the button holding my jean shorts on and my lace top tucked in. * We managed a few more kisses before his cell phone rang. It was his friend who was still at the bar with the group of Americans I went out with, including Kayla. They were all wondering where he and I had run off to and when French James Dean hung up, with an almost sad look on his face, he asked if I wanted to go back. Wine wearing off and reality catching up with me, I decided that we should.

He checked to make sure I was all put together, buttons buttoned and hair straightened out , before he took my hand and lead me back to Place des Lices. On our way there, we ran into a vendor selling roses; he looked both tired and desperate, but still managed to keep a smile on his worn face. He spoke very quickly and with a foreign accent I couldn’t understand, but I knew he was trying to convince French James Dean to buy “la jolie fille” a rose.

From the bottom of his pockets, French James Dean pulled out a few coins. He didn’t have enough to cover the cost of a rose and I could see a look of embarrassment  quickly spread across his face. The vendor, fully understanding the world of poverty, must have felt for him. He accepted the coins from French James Dean’s hand and motioned for me to pick a rose. There were plenty of colors to choose from but each was slightly wilted from a day on the streets. The nicest looking one left had a strong, dark green stem and petals of red and yellow.

“Merci beaucoup,” I uttered, then took the rose in my right hand and linked my left arm with French James Dean’s as we weaved through the empty, cobblestone streets to find our friends.

 

*parts of this chapter were omitted from this online version

Je t’aimais: Part Four

Late-night Stroll

“Do you want to go for a walk?” French James Dean asked.

By this point it was getting to be about 3:00 in the morning and almost everything was closed. The streets were growing silent and those who had been partying just twenty minutes before were slowly making their way home. I wasn’t sure if it was that last glass of wine or the thought of going back into the crowded bar, by now the only one still open, that drove me to say yes. Probably not the safest of decisions I’ve ever made, but I wanted to live every day in Rennes as though I might not have any more. 

“Sure, why not.”

He took me by the hand and led me down the cobblestone road. The darkness was interrupted by street lamps that decorated the sidewalk every twenty feet or so. As we walked, he told me how he grew up in this town and knew every street by heart. He told me stories of his childhood and his family. Then he told me about his job and his girlfriend, both in a nearby town. I didn’t talk much. Although I speak French, I was so tired and frazzled by the whole evening, that I couldn’t put coherent sentences together. He didn’t seem to mind; I was grateful he never put me on the spot.

He pulled me to the left suddenly; we were still holding hands. The street lamps were gone and through squinted eyes I could make out the side of an old church. It wasn’t the breathtaking kind found in travel magazines, just a stone building that had seen a congregation through countless decades.

Our vocal conversation had fallen away and was replaced by a steady gaze. Neither one of us could turn our eyes from the other. To me, it seemed silent and ear-shattering all at the same time. Within seconds, one hand pulled me close while the other cradled my face bringing me in for a kiss.