In the last four years of our expat adventure, Jeff and I have had so many “pinch me” moments. It still feels like we’re getting away with something– living in Europe, traveling, meeting interesting people and doing fun stuff pretty regularly. We love it.
But of course there are downsides and challenges, too. One thing that is tricky for us sometimes is dating. We don’t have family nearby to watch Amelia, and babysitters and restaurants and pretty much everything here are so expensive. We usually call in our babysitting favors from friends for meetings at school and other boring stuff like that. We haven’t taken a night away from Amelia for six years.
Without talking to each other about it at all, when we wrote our intentions on New Year’s for 2014, both of us put “go on more dates” on the top of our lists. By March, we had gone out just once! It suddenly dawned on us that Amelia was taking a trip with her class to York for two nights. Two weeks before that trip, we both realized (on the same day!) that this could be the perfect opportunity for us!
We quickly started searching for cheap airfares and airbnb rentals. Then we laid in bed, wondering if it was actually responsible to leave the country for two nights while our daughter was on a school trip! (The verdict: YES.) We found tickets to Paris that coordinated well with Amelia’s drop off and pick up times at school. They were really cheap! And then we found a great place to stay in Montmartre, with a view from a little balcony of the Sacre Couer. We booked it all, with less than a week to spare! And that is how we came to have one full day (and two nights) alone in Paris last week.
We decided that since our time would be so limited, we would just stay in Montmartre, not taking any public transportation anywhere, and keeping it simple. That was perfect. In just one day, these are the things we did and enjoyed– it was my dream date:
- Breakfast at a bakery. Sipping coffee and talking about the direction I want to take with my work. (Hint: I would love to get back into helping women with their health, maybe doing bodywork again.)
- Espressos at a little cafe where we could sit in the sunshine. Bliss. And then shopping for a souvenir for Amelia.
- Light lunch at a little cafe– a great meat and cheese board! We discussed our best-case-scenarios for our future.
- Gelato from Amorino Gelateria— I had been thinking of this gelato since the first time I tried it last summer!
- A bottle of wine, cheese, and fruit on one of the lawns at the Sacré Couer. We spent a couple of hours just enjoying being out with everyone on a sunny afternoon, enjoying the view of Paris, being amazed that this sort of thing was even possible for us.
- Another espresso stop. This time at a busy intersection where we could watch so many people going about their business. The highlight was seeing some guy jump-rope-jogging through the intersection. We and the Parisians next to us just cracked up– “only in Paris!”
- Dinner at a restaurant recommended by a reader– Les Tante Jeanne. The food was very good, and we passed a very pleasant couple of hours there.
- We went to another cafe on Rue Abbesses for one last people-watching session and to enjoy cognac and crème brûleé, which came to our table flaming.
One of my very favorite things in the world is being out in a busy city at night. I think this has to do with growing up in the Philippines, where people always went out at night to socialize after work. People would hang out in plazas and go get snacks from street food vendors. There were outdoor discos in little villages, and people visited each others’ homes. People were always out late, laughing, talking, relaxing. I cannot even tell you how much I miss that. Of course, living in Los Angeles for most of my adult life, that was always available, too– in a more buzzing kind of way.
And here in our little town… Things really close down at 5 p.m., and few people are out after dark. And this feels so lonely to me. So, I lived for sitting and watching people go by at 10 at night, breathing their second hand smoke and enjoying seeing people talking with friends, greeting one another on the street, walking their dogs so late at night.
That was exactly what I wanted. Eating, drinking, walking, watching people, being part of the city’s night life… And all of it with my favorite person! It was the perfect Paris date.
I am so thankful.