When I stop and think about how much I’ve changed over the last few years it’s only natural to try to figure out where it all started. What was the exact inflection point? What triggered this great shift in my life?
You might not believe me but I didn’t always like dwelling alone in coffee shops, riding bikes through city parks, traveling alone and wearing red pants. I used to be “normal”… I SWEAR!
I grew up in in a Boston suburb playing soccer and chasing down ice cream trucks. I went to a college where I shot-gunned Keystones and raged to Ke$ha. I got my first job in Boston balancing the finance 9-5 with weekend benders at Coogan’s Pub. Everything was in line. I was an American boy, living in an American bubble, doing American things.
This all changed the moment one girl popped into my life, flipping everything I thought I knew on its head. She burst my little American bubble, changing who I was in the process and altered the course of my life.
She came from a country that I had previously only heard about in history books and romance movies. A country known for its style, scenery and cigarettes… Yes, that’s right: France.
All the way from across the Atlantic, somehow she was dropped into my bubble and into my world. While I was initially lured in by her infectious French accent, I soon found we were dangerously compatible and we quickly fell for each other. Over the next six months that she lived in Boston we were practically inseparable.
While it was an incredibly happy time period in my life as we had an amazing bond, what I couldn’t see at the time was how this international relationship would cause a ripple effect on the rest of my life.
Over two years later and I am still witnessing new lifestyle habits I’ve formed that can be drawn back to this French connection. During our time together I was able to see life from a whole new lens, from an entirely different cultural context.
Throughout our relationship we not only explored more of Boston than I had ever seen before, but also Paris, Lisbon, & Montreal. While these trips by themselves may not be much different than your own, the difference for me was being able to see it all through her eyes.
The way she saw things, interacted with people, and the opinions she had were different than what I was used to. Because of her travel background, she had a much more global view of the world. She could see America from the outside looking in, a perspective I had never had access to before.
With this new perspective, this new lens, I began to see things differently. I started to question the American style of life I had been leading. I began to question the American ideals I had been living by.
I felt as if I was able to see things clearly for the first time and discover new hobbies I enjoyed, new ideals that I appreciated, and even a new lifestyle equilibrium.
She enabled me to discover my love for wine, parks, pastries, and lattes. She ignited my passion for biking, cooking and traveling. She changed my sense of style and the tightness of my jeans.
She showed me how delicious food, savory wine and good conversation can provide a sense of community bringing friends and family together.
She altered my perception on work/ life balance and introduced me to a life of leisure we have never known in America.
She showed me the power of speaking one’s mind and being completely honest, a quality that is lost in the false politeness of Americans.
She taught me to push outside of my comfort zone and not to be afraid of going down a new road, not to be afraid of foreign countries or cultures.
In the end, what she did was cause a much-needed disruption in my life. She popped my American bubble and introduced me to a more diverse world. If she weren’t serendipitously dropped into my life I would still be going down that original path.
She was the first domino that caused the rest to fall. She’s the reason I prefer wine to beer. She’s the reason I prefer picnics in the park to beer at a ball game. She’s the reason I’m going to Peru alone next month. She’s the reason I’m about to hop on my bike and ride to the Charles to catch the sunset.
I know that I’m incredibly fortunate to have had her as a part of my life. The problem now though is that she is back in Europe and I have been reinserted into the American bubble, but now as this French-American hybrid that no one seems to understand.
And what worries me is that I’m growing further apart from this bubblized world I started in. I need to find people that have seen through the same lens as I have, who understand this new me – the real me. They’re out there; I know they are.