Sunday, July 23rd, 2017
Funny how being in one room can transport you instantly back to another, even if the former looks nothing like the latter. Seeing twin beds in my dear friend Stacey’s Nantucket house this weekend zipped me back to twin beds in a sleepy suburb outside of Paris, when I shared a room with my fifteen year old French counterpart, Marie, thanks to a program called The Experiment for International Living. The program’s heavy handed title implied we’d work side by side in a lab. The reality was our dizzying schedule was talking and dancing with boys. At night we dissected our options. When we woke it was like the entire world was waiting for us to walk through it in our mini skirts and pointed flats. At 4 PM we took a bus to a teen disco in the next town over. For this Boston girl, dancing with boys who had never heard of the Red Sox made me feel like I was walking on the moon. On the second to last night of my stay Marie had told me breathlessly as we stared at the ceiling from our twin beds, that I was about to meet the boy whom she loved beyond all others. We went out to dinner in a large group and she gave me the honor of sitting me on his right. While I have no memory of what he looked like, I remember suddenly feeling his hand on my knee by dessert. He left a little piece of paper with an address. He wanted me to sneak out the next day while Marie was at her piano lesson and meet him in Paris. The next memory I have is taking the train to Paris, punchy with guilt and glee. We spent the afternoon walking. A toy on a sidewalk fair caught my eye: an idyllic hilltop village made of tin with a train weaving past the charming houses from top to bottom and then starting over again. How easy it made life seem just when it was starting to get hard. He bought me the toy. And I never saw him or Marie again, even though I felt I loved them both dearly for however fleeting. I said good night to Stacey and stared at the ceiling in the dark. A ferry horn sounded far off as I allowed the train to start at the top of my mind and weave its way to the bottom and then begin again.