As I watched the new Netflix series, Emily in Paris, I was transported back to a coming of age time back in the late 70’s. Sometimes a little fantasy and escapism is just what our brains need during this relentlessly challenging 2020.
I loved watching Emily discover Paris and fall in love. The extreme fashion, the French attitudes, the food, the city … it became the perfect writing prompt for my own escape. Fantasy or fiction … I took a staycation at my keyboard.
“Oh ba didons Felice, vraiement, tu es belle. Et, You really don’t look American. It’s tres sexy when you speak French, Je prefer ta voix en francais —plus anime —adorable.”
This 19 year old coming of age girl from Boston by way of the Rockies was smitten. Who wouldn’t fall in love with that? A warm rush of pride washed over me knowing I could deliver all that.
After the first 10 weeks with my Americans in Paris from the NYU program during that Junior year abroad, I met Pierre. An intro through a Boston friend of a friend – to a nice Jewish family in Paris paved my way forward.
Pierre, just 20 years old, fell for me. His dark features, warm eyes, sweet smile, and athletic body were a perfect fit for my lanky toned ready for Paris body. A Mama’s boy whose parents fought underground in the Polish resistance, came with a rich history. With Pierre as my guide, Paris glittered with the stuff that dreams are made of.
Pierre was a determined and exciting first love, patient and generous, with a fantastic sense of humor and a great group of friends. He loved to go to the movies, discover cozy restaurants, and to show off his new american girlfriend to his band des jeunes. We hit tennis balls at Rolland Garros, biked through the Bois de Bologne, skied Courcheval at Xmas and weekended at his parents place in Deauville. I was living the dream.
I had left Colorado behind. Just months before. After 2 years of late night partying and too much of everything, I was ready for a change.
After receiving an acceptance letter from NYU in Paris for the next year, I jumped in the pool daily, swam a mile and felt the pounds around my thighs melt away, my torso lengthened, my arms strengthened and my mind settled.
For two months in the library I studied French, ate like Brigette Bardot living on Tab, plain yogurt, saltines cottage cheese and grapefruit. It didn’t take long to transform into a self-assured looking young woman ready for adventure. My 128 pounds melted to 112. I was lean and light and ready to fly to a new land.
As I stepped off the plane that morning at Charles De Gaulle, I was transported immediately to my new world. The chatter of French, the swish of stylish women, the smell of coffee and croissants were magnetic.
Dragging my unstuffed suitcase, no wheels back then, I headed to the 16th arrondissement of Paris. My wardrobe was simple, replicable and interchangeable. Tight jeans and baggy sweaters, Colorado Frye boots and a beige cashmere coat from my Nana’s closet.
The first stroll down the Rue de Passy, I was in lockstep with those French women. Jeans and skinny were the great equalizer.
After our first time in bed together, Pierre and I lingered for hours. We were just down the hallway from his parents room but it was the middle of the day and thank goodness no one was home. When I needed to head to the hall bathroom he handed me a crisp cotton collared white button down which covered just enough. I felt like Brigitte Bardot, sexy, cozy and stylish. We hung out in his room all afternoon and fell in love. And when the sun started to set he proposed a special little restaurant in the 16th. I had nothing to wear but my tried and true jeans and baggy sweater.
Pierre pointed to his closet offering whatever I wanted. I stood in front of his pile of sweaters and landed on the yellow cashmere cable. I loved the smell. I threw it over the soft white button down, it felt elegant, expensive and the happy yellow matched the warm afterglow of our afternoon. I pulled my jeans over my narrow hips and buttoned them easily over my flat tummy. I pulled my Frye Boots on and grabbed by back pack.
“Vraiment Felice, tu es très cool et chic. Je t’adore. On Y Va.”
Felice is currently working on a TV series and spending 2020 running writing groups for BA50s.