A text message illuminated my phone on a sunny afternoon. A white rectangle popped up on my screen, flashing a totally normal text message on its surface. My eyes took in each word. Maybe the blooming scent of flowers in the air or the shrug of jackets peeling off Parisian bodies to enjoy warm sunshine heightened my senses, but this text message felt special. Like, truly special.
Special in the sense that I was invited over Saturday night for spaghetti at my friend Chouette’s.
Now, really think about all the elements laid into this. I have a friend in a new city, and not only that, she wants to hang outside of coffee shop hours, and she’s inviting me over to her home. Topping all this, Chouette even insisted I invite my Kahwehgi too. There are elements of familiarity, comfortableness, and closeness all tucked into one dinner invitation. Sealed in that one dinner invitation, I felt that I’d made a true friend here in Paris.
I took a cortado at my friend Chouette’s coffee shop Fringe to celebrate that I no longer was on the fringes of society. I took the seat near the floor-to-ceiling street-side window too. I wanted to feel one with the city of Paris.
That’s really sweet, Carly, one may think. We are very glad to hear you’re not spending your Saturday evenings eating spaghetti alone in Paris.
To that I add, Exactly!
Until one has spent extended time abroad, long enough to have the leisure of vacation vibes wear off and truly feel embedded in a foreign country, it’s not easy to understand what it is to live abroad. Every day is a new jigsaw puzzle of cracking language dialects and codes, navigating transit and dodging moto-bikers, hoping you made not only a logical but clever conversation in a foreign language with your colleague, and maybe that new Bumble BFF match will wind up being a IRL BFF too.
To put it simply, it’s what makes life abroad a box of chocolates: every day you never know what you’re going to get.
And that’s exactly what made Chouette’s text message so special.
Though I’d been invited to eat sea urchins with her “chez” Chouette before, and even though we both peed along the Seine together one autumn night, this still felt familiar, comfortable, and close. To eat dinner in her home, with her homemade cooking, in the company of my boyfriend too. All the elements of normalcy in friendships I had state-side affirmatively here in France.
I sipped my cortado with heart-shaped creamy froth sketching the coffee’s surface. Taking in the sidewalk views of the Marais, lending a small wave to Chouette working in the kitchen, and receiving an incoming text from AuCourant, that little heart shape in my coffee was right.
Friendship is lovely.
Fringe: 106 rue de Turenne, 75003 – Wifi
|Mon – Fri||9:00AM–5:30PM|
|Sat – Sun||9:30AM–5:30PM|
*Chouette, Kahwehgi, and AuCourant are nicknames intended for the anonymity of this blog