Fourteen Years, Then France

IMG_2947To spend ten consecutive days with him is something I never dared dream.

To spend ten consecutive days with him in France is nothing I could have ever conceived.

He was a toddler when he walked into my life and my heart fourteen years ago. And when he left nine months later, I knew I would never be the same.

He was my foster son; and each day he was with me, every move I made, every thought I had was for him. I held his hand as he negotiated our city’s streets, read to him every night stories about the world we live in, narrated to him all he heard and saw. I loved him and watched him grow and learn.

And when he left I didn’t know when or even if I would ever see him again. The plan was to try to find him when he was eighteen, and, if he consented, share stories and photos of this time.

But he beat me to it.

On a July morning last summer, I rose to a still-sleeping house and made my way downstairs. I poured a large glass of orange juice and turned on my computer to check my email. And there in the subject line the name I had carried with me every day since that cold November day in 2000 when we first met.

Sixteen years old and living a mere 42 minutes away.

And so soon we met. Again.

It was alternately effortless and all-consuming, a beginning and a natural continuation.

We shared conversations and connections. The topic of travel came up.

I mentioned I was planning a trip to France. I told him if he wanted to go, we could figure out a way to make that happen.

He did. And we did.

First passport, first flights, first everything.

Paris, Arles, Nice.

And I once again and fourteen years later had a front-row seat . . . observant and awestruck, wondering if words existed to capture any of this and finally realizing they really don’t.

But perfect moments do.

Whether on a too-cold November night in 2000, at a computer on an early morning in July, or on a boat moving dreamily along the Seine.

They come when they come.

And when they do, nothing is–thankfully–ever the same.

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