WE MET AT A CAFE IN PARIS
In 1995, I spent the month of June traveling around Europe. I was eighteen years old, and it was my first time to fly across the Atlantic. During that month, I visited six different countries with two of my closest friends, LeAnn and Kim. Our fist stop: Paris! We landed and hit the ground running, trying to stay awake to avoid jet lag. The plan was to stay in Paris three or four days. Luckily, Kim had some friends living there at the time, so we crashed on their fold-out couch in their small apartment. The first few days were spent seeing all the major historic and iconic sights: The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Musee de Orsay, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, and Napoleon's tomb. Our final day was spent taking it easy and doing some shopping. For dinner that last night, we chose a quaint restaurant with cheerful red awnings covering the many outdoor tables and chairs. We were quickly seated outside at the table nearest the front door. From that vantage point we could see the steady stream of patrons both entering and exiting the cafe. I remember watching a street performer just a few feet away from our table. The sights and sounds of such a vibrant city were amazing.
A while later, we had eaten our dinner and were getting ready to head out. It was evening, but it was not dark yet as I happened to glance up at two girls entering the restaurant with an older gentlemen who appeared to be their dad. What struck me right off the bat was that the younger of the two girls was wearing a t-shirt with the name of an obscure band that I listed to. Without hesitating I called out to her and asked about the band. After chatting for a few minutes, it was obvious that we had a lot in common, so I invited the girl and her family to join us at our table. Her name was Janie. She was traveling with her sister, Andrea and their dad.
Sometimes when you meet certain people, you just click right away. It was like that with Janie and her family-- we just all got along so well! They were from Illinois, we were from Oklahoma, and our conversation never slowed down. Instantly we were talking and laughing and sharing stories like we old friends. And so it was that the six of us stayed at the restaurant until midnight! In fact, we all had to run to catch the last metro train, scribbling out our addresses on scraps of paper, promising to write (these were the days before email).
And write, we did. Janie was only a year younger than me, so we had a lot in common. Six months later, Janie flew to Oklahoma to visit. Six months after that, my friend Heather and I drove to Illinois to visit Janie. We all attended a week long concert event called Cornerstone together along with Janie's other sister, Laura (who was not on the Paris trip). The next summer, we flew back to Illinois to visit. And so it went-- back and forth, even attending each other's weddings! Today we don't see each other as often because we are all in different states across the country, but we still keep up via email and facebook. We each have careers and families and lives of our own now.
And it all started when we met at a cafe in Paris.