I apologize for the length of this post, but I’ve never really shared “our story” in full. I figured this is my opportunity!
When I would share my story the average reaction was “that’s a story made for Hollywood!” or “they need to make a movie about your love story!” My response usually was a smile and a head nod in agreement.
I met Thomas at my girlfriend’s wedding in Warwickshire, UK. I was having a horribly awkward moment as a baker. The wedding cake I had made was a complete and utter disaster; at least in my opinion. The red velvet cake was brown velvet, the cream cheese icing was more like a glaze and the 3 tiers would not stand up straight. Utterly mortified. Completely embarrassed. Here’s the only proof that the cake ever existed. It’s okay to cover your eyes.
Everyone said it was not that big of a deal. I could not even be in the same room when they were cutting the cake! But according to the reaction and the amount of empty plates and second helpings, it seemed a success. I decided to let it all loose and enjoy myself despite this personal disaster. After drinks and dinner (and cake) the party really started. The dance floor opened and I was ready to have a good time. Let those baking disaster blues shake off.
The Meet Cute
As with any wedding (usually), the adult beverages flow from the bar the moment it opens. I took advantage of this to drown out my sorrows as the failed American baker. PSA: I did balance it the beer with pitchers of water and carafes of coffee. By the time the dance floor opened I was ready to get my groove on! The happily married couple opened the dance floor up with their first dance and the DJ guided the night away into the wee hours. I let loose and enjoyed myself because I was on vacation.
I met a dapper Frenchman in the middle of that dance floor and we danced the night away; was like I was in one of those rom-com films. When they started kicking everyone out I wrote my number on his hand and hoped for the best but didn’t expect much. I was living in the States and he in France. Think that’ll work out? We texted the next day, he ended up cancelling his plane ticket and extending his stay on England to spend more time with me. When we went our separate ways, we texted constantly.
4 months later I was back to Europe for another wedding, this time in Paris! I spent my week and a half with Thomas revisiting the sites and falling in love all over again with Paris. And falling head over heels for a Frenchman. It was tough saying see you later, but it was the beginning of an adventure I didn’t know was unfolding.
Take the damn trip.
We saw each other twice a year over the next 2 years, always durning vacation. We’d only get to spend about 10 days total with each other, which never seemed like enough time.
Thomas called me up one summery June day as I was in the throws of a festival for work (food truck). He said he had been thinking. There, I held my breath. Here it comes. Oh dear was my response; I was thinking here comes the break-up. No, he wanted to see where my head was at with us, what the next step was, when was I moving to Paris.
We agreed I would come for 3 months on a short-stay visa and try to find a job that would sponsor me. We would see how things played out; certainly between us. I was about to open my third restaurant for Sweet Carrot and I needed time to get the store settled before heading off. We agreed on February 2019. I ended up arriving March and stayed till June 2019.
During those three months I worked a little bit for my newly former job, took time for myself to rediscover Paris, and look for a job. I had hopes that I would find a job that would sponsor my visa and I would be able to return, no problem. My ballon of hope that I had slowly filled up so big started to pizzle out. It’s costly and tough to sponsor a foreigner, particularly an American (my nationality is wrapped in a lot of red tape). It became clearer that I would have to think of another way to be able to stay in France with Thomas.
Back to the Drawing Board
On May 31, 2019, I got on a plane back to Ohio with the perfect plan in mind. I had it all worked out, it was perfect, fool-proof almost. At least on my end I thought it would work. It didn’t. My former job shut 2 of its 3 locations, I had to move out of my apartment because my roommate had found new roommates, and I needed to move back home into my parents’ house. I felt completely defeated. But hey, I am going to make the most of it! It was weird moving back into my high-school bedroom, a space that was, and is, still so sacred to me.
I think after about 2 weeks, I could tell I needed to do something with the boxes piled in the living room, basement, hallway, and spilling out of the laundry room. What does one do when they need to get rid of stuff? Front-porch sale! I unpacked boxes, took inventory, and cleaned all the things I didn’t need. I put a call out to anyone and everyone that I was selling my things because I was moving to France!
This yard sale was two-fold for me; a shedding of an old life to make way for a new and exciting one and a realization that there are people who support me in more ways than I realize and that I am not in this alone.Me. Reflecting on more than just a yard sale. 2019.
I landed a job in the local coffee shop (after a disastrous almost 3 months at a neighboring town’s deli) working as a barista. I was honestly worried that no one would hire me because of my experience, but they took a chance on me and it was the best move yet. They made my time back at home more special. I rediscovered my hometown in a different light that made me realize moving back was a complete blessing in disguise.
When I left in May, Thomas and I had agreed that we’d go the PACs route (civil union). There was less stress associated with it as well as less strain on either party. But after careful discussions and research, we found that the marriage route would be best for both of us. We were in our mid-thirties and didn’t want to be bothered with the dating scene much longer. And we both liked each other and equally thought that if we did not continue on this path we would both regret not exploring it further. So, over the phone, we decided to get married.
This started the long process of applying to get married in the States. Thankfully I spoke to my girlfriend Berry and she gave me the advice to check with the French consulate in the States as to what I would need as far as paperwork is concerned. After more research, phone calls, and emails we had all the documents figured out, ordered, and translated.
We got the green light to marry at the end of October and as karma would have it, on my birthday. We decided for mid November. Thomas got to town booking the tickets and I got to looking for a venue. We got married at the Inn at HoneyRun in Millersburg and had a very intimate and lovely ceremony and dinner. It was more than perfect!
A little over three months after getting married, I had my visa in hand and was boarding a plane with my life packed into 2.5 suitcases. I splurged when I bought my one-way plane ticket and got business economy. Because you only move to Paris once in a lifetime!
Here we are, one year to the day that we got married. Living in a pandemic in a 250 square foot studio apartment; working and trying to have a social life (pretty much non-existent), and create together. I would honestly not want it any other way.