I’ll never forget the day I left Paris 14 years ago nearly to the day. I was hungover from drinking wine on the Seine with my best friend all night, reading each other our journals and dancing at the Highlander – a basement pub we always ended the night at. I never wanted that year or night to end.

It was the end of the infamous year abroad. The year that you’re supposed to find yourself, understand life, cultures and people more and get very, very, very drunk. I did all of that quite well.

I was 22.

I rushed to throw the last of my jean skirts, dirty boots and Eiffel Tower key rings in my suitcase as I heard my Portuguese ex-boyfriend pulling up outside from the banlieues. He didn’t know I had fallen in love with my best friend who had spent the night that night, and who was rushing to leave before he saw him. Enasio and I had broken up a few weeks earlier because his family didn’t approve of me – the American – plus, I was leaving, and we didn’t really understand each other after all. (Yes, he didn’t speak English, but that was only the beginning of our misunderstandings.)

He cried as he saw me enter the security line to the airport. I cried too, but not for all the same reasons. I loved him, and I loved my best friend from the night before, and I loved Paris. Why was I leaving them all?

That summer, I barely left my sister’s couch in Baltimore. I was depressed. I didn’t know why life could be so cruel to hand me people, a city, an experience and a place I loved so much only to take it away. I knew I should be grateful, but I wasn’t. I was just so, so, so sad.

Then, time passed as it always does, and I pushed my love for the city away. I got serious. I graduated from college with a double Theatre/French major. I tried working in casting thinking it would teach me “the other side of show business”. It just taught me bitterness. I quit casting to do acting again for a while. Then, I quit acting. I got really serious. I found a job. I got married to a British man. We moved countries again – this time to Bristol, England. I wrote a book. Moved to Chicago. Started a company. Got divorced. I went into corporate advertising. Even more serious.

Then, I moved to London with my new company. I was closer to Paris, but by this time, my French was nulle and it just didn’t seem possible to move there. I didn’t want to think about the old lover who cast me aside. So, I fell in love again with a human (well, some would call him a human). But, right as I was about to move back to where it all started in Los Angeles, Paris found me again. She always finds you when you need her most. I like to think she saved me from a devastating future as a housewife to a narcissist living in Orange County.

I can try to rationally explain to you how Paris found me again, but even that story wouldn’t make sense. I shouldn’t be here. And yet, here I am. And, I truly never want to leave. I feel like I found my love of my life. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for other loves – love is not scarce. Love is abundant.

I let her go once. I loved her enough. I respected her enough. We found each other again, and I’m more in love than ever before.

May you all find the same kind of love that I have for Paris.

Me in 2019