Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Social Fiction Project- New Beginnings en Paris!

Created by: Madelaine Lapointe and Taryn Wichenko 

Picture That Inspired Our Story
Photo by: Madelaine Lapointe

New Beginnings en Paris!

Living in a city with millions of opportunities, I still do not have one idea of what I want to do. After studying for four years at the University of Toronto, I am left with an arts degree, majoring in Psychology and having a minor in French. I always thought at this point in my life, I would have everything figured out, but unfortunately I have no clue. However, it seems that my two close friends, Courtney and Jen have their lives put together. Courtney got a job as a teacher for the upcoming year and Jen is already married and talking about kids. Me? I’ve been with my boyfriend Chris for two years, and I’m still not sure if it’s the real thing. I love my job as a tour guide on the Toronto Harbour boats but honestly, I just want a change.
This morning I wake up to my boyfriend Chris practically pushing me off the bed. His arms and legs are sprawled to each corner of the mattress. We might as well just get two beds already.
"Chris, time to get up, you're going to be late for work." I remind him, trying not to sound like his mother.
"I got fired." He responds as if everything's just perfect.
"Excuse me? What? Why?" I question, surprised.
"Long story," he mutters, as he rolls over and pulls the covers over his eyes to block the light. "Turn off the lights on your way out." He says, as he rolls back to sleep.
I sigh and turn the lights off. There is no point in talking to Chris when he's like this. Sometimes Chris is so difficult to deal with that I just give up on trying. 
I begin on my way to work, starting with riding the subway and continuing with the streetcar that drops me on a corner close to the harbor. Work is the same old thing everyday, but today it's nice to be outside and get a breath of fresh air. 
To the forecast's surprise, there was a drastic change in weather and I am allowed to leave work early. I call Chris to pick me up so I don't need to wait in the pouring rain, but of course, no answer. I finally get home, looking like a drowned rat, frizzy hair and all. I open the door and just as I go to call for Chris, I hear someone else calling his name. Confused I open the door, and to my surprise, I see Chris in bed with another woman! Tears sting my eyes as I rush out of the apartment, not knowing where I am going. I hear Chris call my name behind me but it's no use as I am already halfway out the building and headed to Courtney's house.
"I can't say I am surprised," Courtney tells me as we both sit in her living room eating cake. "Chris always seemed like a player to me."
Without anything to say to Courtney's blunt comment I just sit quietly and try to distract myself in my piece of cake. Thankfully at that moment Jen runs into the room and comes straight in to comfort me. She's always better at that than Courtney.
"Tell me everything sweetie," Jen tells me and I can tell by her tone she will be an excellent mother.
When I am done telling them all the events of my whirlwind of a day, Courtney says, "What you need is a change."
Jen ponders the idea and agrees, "She's right Tamara, you work so hard you just need a break from life."
"Like a shopping spree?" I ask.
"No, not a shopping spree," Courtney demeaningly tells me.
"A trip Tam. A real adventure. To figure out what it is you want from life," Jen seamlessly interjects.
I had never really thought much of travelling as I usually was tied down to school, work or Chris. It was never a part of my life plan. Then again, neither was a cheating boyfriend. Maybe this was the change that I needed.
It took me no thought at all to decide where I wanted to go. Paris was always a dream of mine, from all the beautiful sights to see, the mouth watering, French food and of course all the eye candy walking through the streets. However, I never thought my dream of travelling to Paris would be a reality. Jen insisted that I buy a one-way ticket, therefore I could take a much time as I needed to find myself. For someone who has her whole life lined up for her, Jen has a rather spontaneous personality.
I move my things out of Chris's apartment and pretty soon I was ready to embark on an incredible adventure. Courtney hosted a going away party for me, which was the perfect send off for my new beginning. And after many tears were shed by all of us, the only thing left to do was board the plane!
I arrive in Paris a day before New Year's Eve exhausted from a long flight and filled with mixed emotions. I decide to head back to my hotel room to sleep and get ready for tomorrow's New Year's Eve adventures.
I find myself waking up the next morning almost in a panic, questioning if I am actually in the beautiful city of Paris, or if I’m living some sort of crazy dream. Everything in my life has changed so quickly that it’s hard for me; the girl who has never really experienced change to know what to do. I decide to keep an open mind and let the day ahead of me direct me whichever way it chooses to.
My first step outside in the daylight is everything I always hoped it to be. The architecture surrounding me, busy street life and the thousands of places to experience. Tonight for New Years Eve there are fireworks happening close to my hotel above Hôtel-de-Ville that I will go to, but for now I think I will walk to Notre Dame and take some pictures. My body is still a little jet lagged from the 6-hour time difference, but my mind is wide awake and ready for adventure. 
After a long day of walking around and site seeing, I head back to my hotel to freshen up before I head back out to get a spot for the fireworks. Usually I wouldn’t be the kind of girl to dress up or wear make up, but something inside me feels this sudden urge to have some fun and live a little! I put on my new black sheer top with my leather high heeled boots, put my hair in a cute, messy low bun, put more than just mascara on and head out into the city full of light. As I walk through the streets, I feel like all eyes are on me. It’s amazing when you actually try to look good just how much your level of confidence goes up. Usually this kind of attention would make me feel uncomfortable and insecure, but there’s something new inside of me that is telling me to go and conquer the city. This year I need to focus on myself and create new beginnings like Courtney and Jen told me. I finally find a spot to sit amongst several people.
“Bonjour Madame!” a handsome, green-eyed man next to me began.
“Uhh,” I started, puzzled that he was talking to me. “Bonjour Monsieur.” I hesitated, remembering I hadn’t really had a conversation in French yet with anyone here in Paris.
"You're not from here, are you?" He jokingly questioned with a grin.
"My accents that bad?" I answered with a laugh to cover my embarrassment.
"No not at all, just different," He responded softly brushing my hand, "Where are you from?"
"Toronto... In Canada," I answered.
"Wow, long trip! What brings you all the way to Paris?" He questioned moving closer to me. I had never had a man be genuinely this interested in me before and I began to think to myself I should play up my look more often!
I talked to this mystery man for the better part of an hour, both in French and English and before I knew it he was asking me what my plans were for the evening. I told him I didn't have any specific plans, so he asked me if I was interested in going along with him. I obviously agreed and thus began the most magical night I had ever had. It finally ended with fireworks and a midnight kiss to bring in the new year. 
The next day I awoke with a smile on my face and many memories made. After all the amazing moments we shared last night, we had come so far but I still didn't know who this guy was, not even his name. This is the time where I would want Courtney and Jen to be here, but I suppose a phone call will have to do. I told them everything and they were even more excited than I was! 
"I saw that kiss picture on Instagram! Who is that guy?"Jen squealed into the phone.
"That's just the thing, we had the perfect night, but I still have no idea!" I said, not realizing how disappointed I was until I said it. 
"Tam, you need to find him!" Courtney ordered me. 
And I knew she was right. The only problem was, I had no information, except that he was a chef. I thought to myself that I had to see him again.
The next couple days I ate out every meal, trying new restaurants in search of my mystery man. All I needed was a name. I couldn't stop wondering if he was thinking about me too. 
I continued touring around the beautiful city of Paris making new friends and seeing several amazing architectural wonders. I loved how the gargoyles each had their own personalities and some how just fit into every landmark. I was loving Paris but I still wasn't sure if this is what Jen and Courtney meant with "finding myself". As much as I wanted to stay here, I decided that this would be my last night in Paris as I was running low on money and was quite frankly was very lonely here in Paris. However I decided I would go and explore the beautiful city one more day. 
At the end of the day I was exhausted from all the walking I had done and a still disappointed that I had not come across him. I decided to go have a bite to eat at a restaurant right next to my hotel called Le Drapeau before I went home to start packing up the life u had made for myself here in Paris. This restaurant had food unlike any I had ever had! It made me want to stay here and eat here everyday! 
Then to my surprise, when I was paying for my meal at the front desk, I caught a glimpse of a familiar silhouette.
"Is that the cook?" I asked the hostess 
"Bien oui Madame," she answered with her perfect French accent. 
I reached into my bag and pulled out 10 of my last euros. 
"Could you make sure he gets this and to tell him the food was amazing!" 
The hostess looked at me and smiled. 
"Oui Madame. Bonsoir."
And just as I went to exit, I was suddenly turned around and I felt the familiar lips against mine. It took me a few seconds to realize that this was the man I had searched Paris for. 
"I thought that was you," he began as his eyes gazed into mine. "Please stay, until close and I will make you dessert, on me."
"I mustn't. I should get back and pack before I leave tomorrow," I reluctantly declined. 
"For Toronto?" he asked, with obvious disappointment in his eyes. 
"Paris is beautiful, but I don't think I am finding myself here. I should go home," I told him. 
"I bet I can change your mind," he said with his adorable grin. And that was just enough to convince me.
"Wait here, I'll be back in a half hour when we close" he assures me. "But before I go, I must know your name." 
I told him it was Tamara and he told me his was Felipe. And just like that, our lips pressed together again. 
Thirty minutes later on the dot I was rejoined with the wonderful Felipe and two banana splits. The only thing better than the amazing ice cream was the company I was with. We talked for hours and I finally learned more about him. At the end of the night he walked me back to my hotel and just after we shared one last kiss, he softly whispered to me,
"I couldn't stop thinking about you."
The next morning my alarm abruptly woke me up at eight and I realized that I had to pack my things for my flight in seven hours. I almost forgot about the amazing night I had and the wonderful man that had made it so spectacular. It was more difficult than I had expected to leave this little fairytale I had been living the past two weeks. Courtney had planned to pick me up from the airport and then I'd stay with her seeing as my old apartment was occupied by my ex boyfriend. I considered stopping by Le Drapeau and saying goodbye to Felipe, but I thought it would just making leaving that much more difficult. The time we spent together was like a fairytale but at some point I have to return to real life. 
Once I was in the airport, I suddenly regretted my decision to not say goodbye to Felipe. Why did I think that was a good idea? I had connected with him more than I had ever connected with any of my boyfriends, including Chris. And pretty soon we'd be separated by the Atlantic Ocean. Tears started to stream down my face. I had finally realized what I wanted and it was too late. 
Finally it was time for me to board the plane. I wiped the tears from my face one more time and got up from my seat. Then faintly, almost inaudibly I heard someone call my name. It was so quiet I thought my mind was playing tricks on me, but then I heard it again. I turned around to see Felipe running towards my gate. He finally caught up to me and grabbed me and kissed me. 
"You can't leave," he said with his adorable French accent. 
"But, this is my flight," I told him as a new batch of tears streamed down my face. 
"Tamara, this doesn't happen everyday. I've never felt this way about anyone before. I think," he stopped, "I think I'm in love with you. " 
His words caught me by surprise but just as suddenly felt so right. 
"I think I love you too," I said quietly hardly even realizing I felt this way. 
"You can't leave. Please stay," he begged me and I knew at that moment leaving was not an option. 
Life has a funny way of treating you sometimes. You can have a whole plan set up for yourself, but it turns out that the best things in life are the things that come as a surprise to you. Every story is waiting to be written, so don't worry about writing it before it happens. As for myself, I can't wait to see where this amazing story of mine takes me! So stay tuned! 

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