The title of this post is misleading, I guess, but I didn’t know what else to call it that would be pertinent.
My last post was about what brought me to France. Okay, it only sort of was, because I didn’t really answer seriously.
When people ask me what brought me to France, there’s always a gaping hole in the story I give, because there’s one factor that doesn’t enter into the equation (of me staying in France) the way I think people expect it to, and that’s having a French boyfriend.
A lot of foreigners in France have a French romantic partner, and a lot of them have come to France already with that romantic partner, and are essentially there for them. That’s great. Being in love with someone from another culture is an incredibly enriching experience (though obviously also sometimes frustrating), and if it opens you up to a new life in a new country, that sounds wonderful too.
But I didn’t actually follow J here, and I didn’t meet him right away, and I didn’t end up in France for him. The few times I’ve answered the “what brought you to France” question by including the part about the French boyfriend, I got an “oh right” response that felt, to me, like it simplified things way too much.
Here are the things I would include in the story of me + France + J, if anyone were every really interested in an in-depth answer (ha).
1) I wanted to stay in France from about midway through my second year here.
2) I never wanted to be single. I mean, I guess being single is good for you, especially when you’re young, but it was never my goal. I was always open to meeting someone while abroad, whether or not it led anywhere serious.
3) Through all of my time in France, once I felt I wanted to stay, I was busy making plans and plan Bs and plan Cs for how to stay, since it is so complicated to live in France as a single American.
4) Love happens to people while they’re busy making plans, and thank God it does, because heartbreak happens too.
5) Love can make so many things clearer—who makes you happy, where you have to live to be with that person, why other people were so clearly not the right one.
6) Sometimes, also, love arrives at just the right time. To be honest, I don’t see how I wouldn’t have had to go back to the US after my stage year if I hadn’t been able to get a vie privée titre de séjour at that point, thanks to J. I choose not to wonder about it because things worked out so miraculously well.
But I still don’t like to imply any sort of narrative that I stayed in France for J, even if, were we to break up now, I would probably consider leaving—another situation I rarely wonder about. So when I answer the “what brought you to France” question, I leave him out, albeit sometimes wistfully.