A couple weeks ago I had dinner with a friend of mine at Bistrot du Coin.
We both love all things French, and in fact initially bonded over our favorite things about Paris. And sometimes we speak French. It might seem pretentious, but I don't care. It's fun.
So David and I are talking about his law firm, and about his new paralegal, who had just gotten back from a weekend in Atlanta that morning. She's young, not far out of college, and super smart. He really likes her as a person and as a colleague.
It turns out she spent a semester of college at Oxford, and while there met a guy, as one might. And then she left England and they went on with their lives and have kept in sporadic touch since. And then recently a very interesting thing happened.
She heard from him, out of the blue. He'd moved to Atlanta. And would she like to visit for the weekend?
So she did. Expecting nothing more than visiting an old flame for a weekend.
She returned to work on Monday with the following very condensed version of the story. Oxford boy is not loving Atlanta. And he's considering transferring with his company to Paris. Would she marry him? And move to Paris?
"So, basically," I said, "you think he's hating being in Atlanta, wants to move to Paris, and doesn't want to move alone?"
"But she said yes, right? Please tell me she said yes."
He looks at me and shakes his head. Like, had I been listening to the details of the story? "They aren't in a relationship. They'd barely kept in touch."
"She has to say yes."
"Lisa. They're so young. They don't even know each other. Odds of this going well are not high."
"So how did she leave it?"
"She told him she'd think about it."
"Think about it? No thinking! Tell her to say yes!"
"She's really smart. I love having her work for me. She'll probably work at the firm for a couple years and then go on to grad school. And then she'll do great things. She wouldn't even be able to work in Paris."
Clearly his love of Paris is not overriding his inclination to think like a high-powered lawyer. But I know for a fact that he takes vacations like bike trips through the Loire valley. He goes to Europe every chance he gets. Even though he has this impressive, demanding job, it's not his life.
In other words, he can be reasoned with.
"Honestly, David. They'll get divorced in two years. Paris would be perfect for her. She can start graduate work, or just study French, she can shop, she can hang out and have a great time. The whole relationship will be over by the time she's ready to go to grad school."
"I hadn't thought about it that way. If you look at it in that way, it absolutely makes sense."
"Christ, if someone out of the blue asked me to marry him and move to Paris tomorrow, I'd say yes. I would probably only have to be marginally attracted to him as a person."
"You know, I probably would, too."
"Promise me you'll go to work tomorrow and tell her to say yes."
And so he did. But he also gave her the context. I have no idea what she'll do. Probably the practical thing, which would be to not quit your job to move to Paris and marry someone you dated briefly several years ago.
It pains me, even thought I don't know her.
When I was in my 20s, it all seemed so important, so dire, so forever-y. But honestly. If you're 23, you've got all kinds of time to move to Paris, have a good time, learn a few things, see a lot, get a divorce, and then get on with life stuff.
Because even though my advice to people is to get married and stick it out, odds are poor when you're only 23 or 24. But on the bright side, if you're divorced and dating in your 30s, nobody will ask you what's wrong with you that you've never been married. Because you have been!
And, on the even brighter side, one can always blame the demise of the marriage on the snobbery of the Parisians. Or the fact that they don't pick up their dog poo. Or the amount of butter they use in their cooking. Or something along those lines. People will believe it.