A few weeks back I was walking past the Faubourg after work and was stopped by a young guy, looking a bit lost, asking for a smoke. I obliged and he asked if I wouldn’t mind answering a personal question. I took him up on the offer, though initially for no more reason than to practice my ameliorated French with a bonafide Parisian (the accent is a dead giveaway). He asked me if I thought it was possible to experience true love more than once in a lifetime. I couldn’t have been happier to discuss my philosophical ruminations on love, though when he explained his precise situation amidst the pouring late-October ice-rain, my heart sank. It looks like this young guy, aged 18, had packed his bag for MontrÃ©al and hoped on the first available flight to try and win back his love. He had met a Canadian in Paris and had fallen madly in love her over the summer. When her time in Paris came to an end, they decided to try their hand at a long-distance relationship, she no older nor any wiser than he. It failed as so many others do, and so he came to see her at her apartment at the Grey Nun’s Mother House, not knowing what he’d do if she ultimately rejected him. He had nothing and was wearing a thin sweater, soaked head to toe. She wasn’t very amused to see him, and threw him out with a Concordia Security guard’s bum-rush to seal the deal. Though he was heart-broken, I can’t imagine why she would have needed to get a big burly security guard, though I guess distance (and stupidity) made the heart grow more determined. I consoled him as best I could and reminded him that yes, indeed, he will probably find love again, perhaps a more meaningful love than the one he thought he had lost.
Ultimately, he was irreconcilable, and I don’t think I convinced him much. I asked him where he was staying, what his plan was. He said he didn’t know, he had nowhere to stay and that his return flight left in three days, so he’d try to sleep at the airport. The moment of dawning realization was still far from fully manifesting itself in his eyes, though I could tell it wouldn’t be much longer before he realized the magnitude of his decision.
I couldn’t tell whether I was happy to see that grand romantic gestures still existed, or that I was no longer as immature and inexperienced as he. I despised that cynicism, wondering if it would cloud my judgment forevermore, or if it was simply a life well-lived that made me critical of the romantic impulse. Still, to travel all this way on little more than a prayer is remarkable for its optimism and naivetÃ© – both so extreme it’s maddening.
I hope she made the right decision, and I know he’ll never do anything so clueless again. Such is the allure of a MontrÃ©al girl…