Traveling Through France With an Ex to Find True Love With or Without Him

It was a dream come true, my trip to Paris. Except the man I was traveling with was not my boyfriend or husband – he was my ex. I fell madly in love that week. With him, all over again, with my cousins, who had come to explore the city by our sides, with Paris, itself, filled with beauty and hope. And most of all, with myself. 

Excerpt

We ate sitting in the square, watching all the tourists and Parisians go by. Lee pointed up at the sky, where dark gray clouds had gathered, shutting out all the sun. I shrugged, unconcerned, but as we watched a group of teenagers try to take pictures of each other in mid-jump, their feet in the air, we felt the first sprinkles of rain. Still, I wasn’t worried.

We had just crossed the river when Lee said, “This is going to be bad. It’s going to drop right on us.”

I said he was worrying too much. And then came the flood.

It was a downpour. Nothing like what we were used to back home. It came on like someone had flipped a lightswitch and poured down as if God were dumping a bucket of water right on top of us. I dug furiously in my bag for my umbrella and was instantly irritated that I was the only one who had thought to bring one. Why didn’t Lee ever think ahead?

Being so much taller than I am, he insisted on holding the umbrella, which only irritated me further. The strap kept hitting me in the face, and when I’d move, one of the points would snag my hat. My glasses were streaming with the rain that was blowing in underneath the umbrella and my shoes and pant legs were soaked. Another block of trying to keep myself under the umbrella, as Lee clumsily maneuvered it and I was pissed.

I tried to keep my focus on our destination, the Jardin du Luxembourg. But the map became soaked in an instant, making it impossible to read. Lee kept complaining that his stomach hurt and he was too tired to keep walking. I tried to cheer him up, but he wouldn’t respond. I knew him well enough to know that once he’d reached that point, it would be nearly impossible to draw him into any kind of conversation no matter how short or casual. He would stubbornly remain silent until he was good and ready to interact again.

I wanted to punch him.

I gave up and we stopped talking. I fumed and fumed for blocks.

Once we had arrived at the garden, my anger shifted from Lee (momentarily) to the rain. I couldn’t believe it was raining so hard the exact moment we had reached this beautiful outdoor space. I could barely take any pictures – the rain was spraying onto my camera and the lens and I was afraid it would be ruined, so I put it away in frustration. I had dreamed of this moment, sitting in the garden with Lee, snapping pictures leisurely. And now here we were, huddled under an umbrella, unable to sit and rest or even take pictures and the tension between us was thick and uncomfortable.

I finally reached for the bandana that was in my pocket, just to wipe my hands off. They were, like the rest of me, dripping with water.

Suddenly, Lee made a few attempts to engage in conversation. I couldn’t believe it. Now? After all that? Now he wanted to talk?

I said, through clenched teeth, “I’m pissed and I don’t care that you don’t think I have the right to be.”

He said nothing. This was a very old argument for us. We knew the steps by heart.

 

FAQs about The Paris Diaries

Over the years, I’ve had people ask me questions about this book. Here are a few of my answers.

Is this really your journal from that time?

This is, hand-to-God(dess), my real journal from the trip. I deleted a few scenes that seemed tedious, as well as a few tidbits that just felt far too personal to put into the world. I also added a bit more formal dialogue to make it read better. But other than that, it’s entirely unaltered.

Did you change people’s names?

Yes, I changed everyone’s name in order to protect their privacy. Some of the pseudonyms are, admittedly, quite similar to the real names, and many are just the person’s middle name. (I’m not very creative when it comes to disguising people.) My brother, “Jack,” is actually Chance, who collaborated with me on The Reluctant Owlet.

Are the pictures of France you post on social media the actual pictures from that trip?

Yes. Every one of them is a picture I took or one that Lee sent to me after the trip.

Did you and Lee end up together?

Yes…and no. Lee and I finally moved in together the autumn after this trip. We spent the next 5 years in that house, sometimes joyously, and sometimes miserably. He fell in love with another woman in 2014, hastily moved out of the house, and I never saw him again.

Did you find happiness after all this?

Yes. A thousand times, yes.