Paris has been a long distance relationship starting circa the 5th grade. As with most relationships, we share what one might call… history.
As riveting as French history stories may be, that’s not the kind I’m referring to. Stepping through the doorway of Café Lomi in the 18éme arrondissement, I reference the history I not only shared with this coffee shop but this city too.
So, why Paris? And why study French? To be honest to naysayers, I don’t really have a good reason. I chose French in elementary school because I thought the language sounded pretty. Maybe I had influence from the air of sophistication the word French carried when it rolled off my non-native tongue. Whatever be the case, French is what felt right. And there my relationship with French commenced.
After years of “long distance dating” with France, I first brushed paths with Paris in-person on a “taste of western Europe” tour while traveling with family. Quite literally, a bite-sized taste of 36 hours in Paris. My second rendezvous swept me through Paris on a biking trip to Amsterdam. They reckon third time’s the charm, but just like most European men, mon Dieu, I was enraptured already. Studying abroad five months for university not only seemed logical, but essential. So, the Spring of 2016 felt as natural as steamed milk breaking with espresso. Moving abroad the following Fall of 2017 felt as delicious as taking the first sip.
This brings me back to Café Lomi.
The coffee shop felt as cozy and rustic as I had remembered. I shared a history with these warm wood floors and tables, the posh and hipster staff, and the graffiti mural decorating the view across the street. A kind-hearted friend during my studies abroad, whom I’ll call Combi, introduced me. Together we drank good coffees and shared tasty cakes at Café Lomi and at other coffee hubs across the city. I rummaged through the city on my own to discover the best cappuccinos in Paris, then I shared this exploration with Combi. He flavored my coffee shop experience, brewing it to be a history entangled with him. So, when I strode through the glass door of Café Lomi, I hesitated if my next hour would taste like a cold, over-oxidized shot of espresso. An experience intended for two and not exclusively one.
Relationships aren’t defined in numbers though, they come in all shapes and sizes with yourself and others. Feeling lonely and being alone are two different elements you choose between. Returning to old coffee shops I used to attend in company, I wavered if I’d feel lonely. I paused if my whole relationship with coffee now turned bitter. Here’s the catch – history only reads bitter if you write it that way. The same goes for the future. You’re the main character of your life’s story. So write a good story.
When my espresso arrived at the table, not only did it arrive warm and fresh, I saw it that way too. I didn’t feel lonely to be drinking alone. It felt sweet to recall the spaces and places shared with Combi, but it tasted just as sweet to sip the espresso by myself as well. We had shared moments in time together. As with all history, moments will continue to be shared with new people, spaces, and places. It doesn’t make what the past has bean any less special, it merely makes it different. That’s the difference.
Swirling my espresso, my heart felt content to be ending the long-distance relationship and starting something new. For the first time, this coffee, this café, this city – it tasted like mine.
Café Lomi: 3 rue Marcadet 75018 Paris – Wifi
*Combi is a nickname for the intended anonymity of this blog