Today, my short story “French Kiss” is published in Romance Magazine. It’s a semi-autobiographical piece because it represents the one regret that I have about my experience studying abroad in Paris, France, between my freshman and sophomore year of college.
My summer in Paris was everything I dreamed it would be. I stayed with a lovely French family who were truly kind, drank the most sinful chocolat chaud of my life—twice, danced my way through La Fete de la Musique, spent my 19th birthday in Chartres at the most beautiful cathedral I’ve ever seen, shopped for Parisian couture, and took in exceptional architecture and art, all the while earning the foreign language credits I needed to pursue my degree.
But the thing about this adventure that made it truly unique and created so many memories is that this was before smart phones and international cell phones were the norm. I had no phone. Access to the internet? Nope. My French host family had a dial-up AOL connection that I felt guilty using, because they rarely used it themselves. There were internet cafes, but frankly, those creeped me out a bit. There was one TV in the house, and I think me and my friend, Kristen, who I was lucky enough to be paired with for the trip, watched it all of two times. Essentially, our trip was “unplugged.”
So, I wrote letters on rose-colored stationary and prayed they’d make it to Phoenix, Arizona, before I flew back. I read voraciously for entertainment. I finished ten books during the trip. And I invested in calling cards and became an expert at figuring out time differences between Arizona, Paris, and Thailand.
Why Thailand? Well, my first college boyfriend was vacationing there with his family, and I couldn’t imagine seven weeks without speaking to him. A few nights a week, I would walk down la rue from my host family’s flat and wait on a bench until a certain time. Then, I’d cross the street to a pay phone and make my calls.
A few weeks into my trip, an Italian boy (I say “boy,” but he was probably only a year or two younger than me) started sitting next to me. His uncle owned a pizza parlor not far from our flat that was too die for. And he unabashedly flirted with me all the time. It was flattering, but…my thoughts were in Thailand.
Fast forward to when I’m back in the States and I go to visit my boyfriend before the school year starts. He brings me roses at the airport…and then dumps me 24 hours later. And then he took me to meet his mother. I was a really rough week. Sigh…young love…
As I look back on our fledgling relationship, I realize we were all wrong for each other. The warning signs were there. Even still, I don’t regret the calling cards and the time I spent in a phone booth in Paris. I don’t regret the love letters I wrote to him. I don’t regret all the crazy feelings of first-time romance.
So, what’s my biggest regret?
I clearly should have kissed the Italian boy.
In “French Kiss,” armed with hindsight, I explore what would’ve happened if I’d thrown caution to the wind and allowed myself a little Parisian romance.
Download your copy today and let the love in. Gros bisous!