* I intend to continue my Fucking Stories. I just needed to start getting this off my chest. Unfortunately, my real life is far less orgasmic than my literary life.
Looking back on my relationship with my husband, it becomes more and more apparent to me that the foundation of our friendship was built for the most part on lies. His, not mine. I had come to France to study, alone, as I had been dumped, quite cruelly, by my former French boyfriend prior to leaving America. I had my paperwork in order, I was enrolled in university and I had a fairly important sum of money, so I just said to myself, “What the fuck! Go for it!” and that is what I did. I was 23 years old.
Oddly I feel like I had far more self-confidence at that time than I do now. Beauty, youth, stupidity savantly mixed with too much intelligence. Beauty, of course, fades, means far less than we imagine at the time we are reveling in it. Youth passes you by like the bus you’ve been waiting for for over an hour. (Do not look down to light your 15th cigarette, you most definitely will miss that fucking bus.) As for intelligence, you have to know how to use it in your favor, otherwise it is much the same as when you leave your phone charger plugged in at all times, even when you are not charging your phone. *Poof!
I was not looking for love the day we met. Although theoretically, I had more than enough money to get me through my school year, I met a lovely girlfriend who enjoyed nightlife, drinking, smoking, late nights in cafés. She had a car, a Peugeot 404. It was turquoise and we went on weekend trips together, we once begged for croissants at four in the morning at the back door of a bakery after a night of merrily frolicking. Together, we spent incredible amounts of money. My stash started to seriously dwindle around December and by January, it hit me that if I didn’t find some kind of shit job, I really wouldn’t make it to the end of my studies. Plus, I really intended to stay. To live in France. To translate subtitles for movies or find some use for my French. (22 years later I still haven’t found it.)
So, I threw back two or three glasses of wine, made myself look alluring, took a big breath and ventured out into the job search phenomenon, something I always managed to get through in America although it is probably more terrifying to me than cancer or death. The French have a well deserved reputation for not being incredibly friendly. Where I live, the summer is the season when a paperless American could probably find a job quite easily. In January….two or three completely empty restaurants and I began losing hope rapidly. Hopelessness leads me to a bar. Still, to this day.
Bartenders can recognize hopelessness ten miles away. I started with a miserable glass of wine, tears welling up behind my eyes, threatening to spout out at any given moment. My Super Hero Bartender led me to free tequila shots and my hopelessness evaporated so quickly, I could scarcely remember why I was all gussied up in the first place. My mission became terribly secondary. The bartender was hitting on me, a midget waiter had engaged me in some sort of political conversation…and somewhere in the background, my current husband appeared.