2013 was the summer of England and France. My husband, Brent, and I hit seven cities in three weeks, taking in a mix of city and country. This is part of a series of blog posts recounting our adventures over July of 2013.
The city of love.
Strolling along the Seine as the city lights sway and roll over the water. Watching the Eiffel Tower light up, warm in your lover’s arms. Attaching your personalized lock to Lovers’ Bridge, sealing your attachment with a kiss meant to keep you together forever. Losing yourself in your love’s embrace, oblivious to anyone else.
It’s all very sweet.
But it’s not love. Because there’s no one way to love. And there’s not one way to show or enjoy said love.
Love isn’t doing the exact same thing as who-knows-how-many couples are doing at the exact same time as you. It’s not about doing things that you’re told are romantic, or that you have to do. It’s not declaring your devotion for all to see, in the place where you’re supposed to make promises.
But this is the reputation that Paris has earned. It’s the city of “have tos” and “can’t misses,” tourist guides naming countless places to experience true romance – to visit with your true love.
And maybe that’s why I’m “meh” about Paris.
Because the only thing you “have to” do is what feels right to you. Not what hoards of others have tried and enjoyed. Your life, and your love, follows its own course.
And in my life? Paris isn’t the city of love. It just doesn’t tick my boxes for romance, euphoria, and togetherness. But it might be perfect for you. And it’s awesome if it is.
Because somewhere is a place – or places – that make you want to nuzzle into your love, shutting out anything that isn’t you, him/her, and your life together. The issue is finding this place. And, while it’s tempting to look at what others have done, to Google search “Romantic Cities” and hop on a plane, I propose a different option: a few questions that you might want to ask yourself.
Not that you have to ask yourself. Ask them or don’t. That’s not my business.
1.It’s Saturday night. What are you and your love doing?
Are you out, dressed as though you’ve hired a stylist (maybe you have), looking to lock out the world in an evening of VIP bliss? Are you with friends, enjoying each other’s company, sneaking an thrilling kiss in the kitchen/hallway/outside the pub restrooms? Are you in your PJs, watching a movie on the couch?
Your Saturday nights are your life. They’re how spend the freest part of your week. They’re how you choose to live.
They’re how you choose to love.
So, when you’re looking for your own city of love, make sure that it wants the same thing out of a relationship that you do.
2. What makes you feel like mush combined with explosives?
You know, that feeling in your gut when you know that you love and are loved. That sensation of melting into slack-mouthed smiles and bursts of happiness that you couldn’t control even if you wanted to (but why would you want to?). Is it dinners out and gifts, a protective arm keeping you from danger you’d missed, lying on a blanket in the park as the clouds float by overhead, your hand warm in your love’s?
Cities have personalities too. They interact with their people in different ways. They mirror relationships.
Find one that makes you want to explode the mush together.
3. How do you feel about crowds?
Do you want to flaunt your love, to brag about it, or show others how lucky you are? Or would you rather keep your love – and your lover – to yourself, not wanting to share? Would you rather make-out in a deserted field, or on a park bench, possibly still warm from its previous occupants?
Sometimes, the city of love isn’t a city at all.
4. If you had one day to spend with your love, what would you do?
Do that. Every day.
If you can’t do it in the city that you’re considering visiting, then it’s not the right city for you.
And that’s why Paris isn’t the right city for me, and it’s not the right city for my hubs – because we’re right together. And Paris? We’re not likely to be friends. We just like different things.
We’ll say “hey” in passing. We’ll even talk each other up to acquaintances. But we know that we’re not meant to be together – even if the guidebooks and pop culture tell us that we should be.
Because you can’t love someone who isn’t right for you. And although Paris might be everything I should want, like Juliet, I’d rather have another.