A couple of weeks ago I wrote asking if any of you would like to share your stories of how you met the love of your life. Perhaps it was a love that was meant to be and has survived the test of time, or maybe it was a first love, a forbidden love or a love that ended badly.
Here is my very first contributor. It is written by Sue Vincent who writes on her blog, Sue Vincent-Daily Echo. If you do not follow her already you are missing a treat as I think this story, told so beautifully, clearly indicates.
Once upon a time in Paris
How many perfect days can one have in a lifetime? As a child there are whole chunks of time that seem that way in memory, but as we grow up there are more pressures and worries and perfect days are few and far between it seems. Looking back to when I was a very much younger woman there were none I recall until I went to work in France.
It was the first perfect day in my adult memory. I had not been in France for very long, just a couple of weeks and my French was still very stilted, friends non-existent yet I was in a country and a city I adored.
It was Sunday and I had gone into Paris very early. As always the thrill of being there lifted me and made my heart sing as I walked out of the Metro into the sunlight. I had no plans that day and simply started to walk. From Notre Dame out to the Bois de Boulogne, then back via the Arc de Triomphe to the Seine. It was a beautiful morning.
I was quite introspective, homesick I suppose and gradually the loneliness of my situation seeped in. I barely noticed that something was obviously going on in Paris that day as I sank further into an inner murkiness. I wasn’t used to being alone, coming as I had from the ending of a violent marriage that was, nevertheless, companionship of a sort. Sometimes we will put up with an awful lot for the fragile security of someone being there when your hand reaches out in the night. But there are limits and I had left.
So I was feeling very gloomy and barely noticed as I walked that there were a heck of a lot of people around until the crowds brought me to a standstill on the right bank. The roads were cordoned off and people started cheering as the first of the runners came through. I had no idea the Marathon was being run that day. The atmosphere was excited and friendly and in miserable isolation I joined the crowds, drinking in the proximity of other human beings and feeling utterly alone.
As I looked up I caught a young man looking at me from the other side of the road. He looked away as soon as our eyes met. He was about my age, short reddish hair and clear skin that showed that he was blushing.
For the next hour or so we watched the marathon and surreptitiously each other. There were a few half smiles. Nothing more. Just the fluttering and tingling as impossible possibility opened its delicate petals. Only when the last of the runners had gone and the crowds were dispersing did I think of moving on. And he was ducking under the cordon and crossing the road.
In central Paris, asking a girl if she knew where one could get a coffee had to be the feeblest of pretexts, but it was enough. We talked a little in spite of the language barrier. His name was Rick and he was in Paris to study. His parents had a farm in Normandy. He suggested we walk together to the Eiffel Tower where the end of the race would be celebrated. Coffee, it seemed, was forgotten.
We joined the crowds and, oddly enough, the excitement when shared was different and caught us in the laughter and lightness of the moment. We lingered for a while, then walked for miles, getting hopelessly lost walking hand in hand through the streets of Paris, talking as best we could about anything and everything under the sun.
It was dusk when we got back to the party on the Pont d’Iéna. There was music and laughter, news cameras and noise. Yet in a pool of stillness in the centre of the bridge below the Eiffel Tower, Rick kissed me and I heard for the very first time, ‘Je t’aime’. And I think, just for those few moments, he meant it.It had been a magical day.
We walked the rest of the evening, arm in arm, stopping to watch the bateaux mouches, their lights reflecting on the water, smiling, kissing, utterly happy. He showed me an inscription on a monument that spoke of love and kissed me with great gentleness, something I had never known till that moment.
At the Metro station where I had to leave, he asked when he could see me again. Something I could not explain made me shake my head. He held me very tightly and I kissed him through my tears. I never saw him again.
We had shared a perfect day. More so because it had come unexpectedly and in contrast to the gnawing loneliness I had felt. So why then walk away?
I do not know for sure. I wrote in my diary that I had seen too much beauty broken in my life to place this at risk. It had been too beautiful a day to lose. Too fragile. It had been perfect and it remains with me to this day. No regrets. From time to time I think of Rick and smile.
I have been blessed with other perfect days. Oddly enough, although I have many days that are beautiful, they are only perfect when shared. And they always stand against a contrasting griefs of that chiaroscuro we call life.
As the years have passed and I have become at ease with myself and with life, people have come into mine, in love and laughter. There are days of snow and sunshine, wind and rain that will live for me, tugging my heart and filling my eyes with tears at their beauty until memory itself fades into the mists. It seems as if the more we bring to life, the more it opens to us and shares its heart with us, and our capacity for wonder and beauty grows as we embrace its richness.
We can never know what day may be our last, what moment hold the utmost beauty in our lives. We owe it to ourselves and to each other to make each moment count, living it to the full, with passion and attention, in glorious Technicolor.
“We walked and walked and walked. Arms around each other, he smiling into my eyes and gently kissing my forehead. For all the world as if we were lovers and in love. I will never forget the tenderness in his expression, even if I forget everything else.”
Over thirty years ago and I have not forgotten. I still smile at the memory of one perfect day in Paris and a pair of blue eyes.
Sue’s blog is Sue Vincent-Daily Echo.
Twitter is @SCVincent
Facebook S.C. Vincent
If you have a story to tell we would love to read it. Please send it to me here. I will link to your blog, but if you wish to remain anonymous please let me know.