I remember Paris, the Notre Dame cathedral, a murky and chilly day in the middle of February. I remember feeling alive and alone after a month in Paris and the way my heart actually jumped inside my chest when you whispered, “bonjour,” as our paths crossed.
I remember spending the day with you, saying nothing and everything, amazed at how comfortable I felt with you, despite having no language in common. I remember the way you snuck your first kiss in while we strolled along La Seine, the bright lights off the Eiffel Tower sprinkled across the river. I remember feeling like I’d walked directly into a movie, that our first date was so achingly romantic that it was almost comical. I remember thinking I couldn’t wait to tell my friends about you.
I remember how, after only three days with you, I couldn’t imagine what my life was like before you, like I had an empty piece in my life that you filled into perfectly. I remember already knowing I’d stay in Paris for you, that I’d teach you English, that you felt like the home I was trying to find when I took a one-way ticket to France.
I remember waking up early every morning to walk down cobblestoned streets to fetch a fresh baguette for our breakfast. I remember watching you shake up a cup of yogurt and thinking that was strange, but then, a week later, finding myself shaking up a cup of yogurt, too.
I remember trying to fight and communicate and express ourselves using Google Translate. I remember, on the heels of our first fight, I perched on the edge of the bed and cried in a way I’d never cried before, feeling raw and vulnerable and like I hadn’t realized I had given you my heart that quickly.
I remember you saying “I love you” in your language, while teaching me how to say it back. I remember wondering how love could be this strong, this fast, and second guessing my feelings and yours and feeling like my skin was turned inside out for the first month we were together.
I remember being scared that, you’d leave my apartment to go to yours, like you did every day, but that one day you wouldn’t come back. I remember being acutely aware that I was inexplicably and undeniably in love with you and that fact made me want to either run directly into your arms or run to the closest train station and flee the continent.
I remember spending long afternoons exploring Paris together. I remember noting how you wouldn’t walk next to me without holding my hand or putting your arm around me or how waiting for the metro was the perfect time to sneak in ten kisses. I remember knowing that if I was a bystander watching us, I would have groaned, “ugh, get a room,” under my breath.
I remember my brain being mush and, when I wasn’t with you, being surprised a world outside of you existed. I remember that falling in love was nothing, and yet it was everything I expected it to be and that the dichotomy of that was strange to live inside.
I remember knowing that if there was ever going to be someone I’d marry, it’d be you. I remember feeling that being around you heightened me, made me better, and opened and expanded my heart in ways that were unfathomable to me, even now. I remember being able to feel the imprint you had made on my heart.
And, two and a half years later, when we exchanged our marriage vows in America after a year of waiting on immigration, I remember thinking that love, in its many forms, was a force stronger than I could control. I remember, as you said, “I do,” that love has a funny way of slowly transforming our lives and opening up space to let each other in and was there anything more beautiful to witness?