One Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris, in Paris - by Expat Edna

It was early August and things were not going well.

I had just called off my engagement, the fingers on my left hand unused to feeling for a ring that was no longer there. Elsewhere, not one, but two people I considered my closest friends had broken my heart in totally different, though equally painful ways. I was hurting, big time.

One especially rough night, knowing I would drive myself batty if I stayed in alone with my thoughts, I told myself to buck up, threw on a light summery dress, and went up to one of my favorite spots in Paris: Montmartre.

There, I knew, Midnight in Paris would be playing on a huge screen en plein air; part of an itinerant outdoor summer movie series that roamed the city.

“I have to at least check it out,” the journalist in me reasoned. Plus, the meta factor of it alone: seeing Midnight in Paris, hearing that gorgeous Parisian soundtrack, while overlooking Paris  I couldn’t pass on that.

Neither, apparently, could anyone else.

Weaving through crowds of picnickers and tourists, I finally found an open space along the railing. I took in the scene, felt at peace for a moment, snapped a horribly grainy photo with my phone.

I’ve seen this movie a dozen times, I thought. I don’t need to stay. 

Marion Cotillard’s face lit up the screen. “I love it,” she whispered quietly to Owen Wilson, complimenting his book as they meet for the first time. “I’m already hooked. Hooked!”

Dammit, I realized, as I silently started reciting the next lines in my head. I can’t leave. I love this movie.

So I stayed.

As I stood there, I became aware of the people around me. Couples resting with heads on shoulders, friends gathered around picnic blankets sharing a bottles of wine — and there was me, like a day-old baguette, standing alone.

While countless people to my left came and watched and went, I noticed a figure on my right who stayed. He was tall and skinny in the typically Parisian way, and he too was alone.

If this was a movie, this would be the perfect meet-cute, I mused.

I stayed in my spot for nearly two hours, until the very end of the film. I watched Owen Wilson’s character break up with his fiancée. I watched him stroll onto a Parisian bridge, meet a cute French girl, and walk off with her into the credits.

People around us started packing up their blankets, shuffling back towards Sacre-Coeur. I snuck a few glances out of the corner of my eye. He was still there.

I’ll stay until the credits finish rolling. I like watching credits. Ever the delusional romantic.

The credits gone, the screen faded to black. I didn’t move. He didn’t move.

I realized I was being ridiculous.

At that point, though, I stopped caring. The wind had picked up, and in the crisp summer night air, looking out towards the twinkling lights of all of Paris spread out before me, I felt like Kate Winslet at the bow of the Titanic (if the Titanic were a Parisian stone balcony and Leo had ditched me to stand alone while he ate dinner on the other side of the ship).

Heights being one of my greatest drugs, coupled with the gorgeous breeze, I suddenly felt the happiness that had been eluding me. I was staring at a beautiful city, I city I called home; I had just watched Midnight in Paris — in Paris – and darn it if I didn’t look good to boot.

Even if this dude never talked to me, which he wouldn’t because I had clearly watched too many Disney films, it didn’t matter. In that moment I was utterly content.

I turned to leave. He turned to look at me.

“Volzseavioemlealefum?” said the cute curly-haired stranger.

I stared at him, speechless.

He repeated himself, slowly, in French. Did you like the film?

Yes, I replied shakily in French, very much.

Have you seen it before?

Yes, many times.

I told him I was an American writer. He told me he was a French actor. The irony of it all, given what we had just watched, was not lost on either of us.

There was an awkward pause. The wind continued to blow around us. I thought that was it. Then:

Would you like to go for a drink with me?

I accepted, and we walked off into the credits.

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Comments

  1. Ray says:

    My wife and I spent a week staying in Montmartre in September, the trip of a lifetime. I’m pretty sure were it not for “Midnight in Paris” we would have waited a lot longer. But watching that movie hooked us both and we were not disappointed.

    My favorite bit: After visiting the Parthenon we found ourselves on a familiar looking street. We weren’t really sure it was ‘that street’ until we were passed by a hoard of tourists photographing everything in sight.

  2. Rebecca says:

    I think you met “Owen Wilson”

  3. Edna I LOVE this story. LOVE. Wishing you much sweetness, always xo

  4. Caitlyn says:

    What a beautiful story, you do tell it like a movie. Totally a meet-cute ;) Hope Sochi is treating you well :)

  5. Jules Cherie says:

    I am completely in love with this film, and your story just made it that much better for me. Wishing you all the best! xo

  6. HOW have I never heard about this? Amazing. This reminds me of the time when I met a handsome Brazilian guy in Ubud who drove me around all night on his motorcycle RIGHT after I read Eat Pray Love. WTF?

  7. Abbey says:

    Very sweet post!
    But it’s Owen Wilson, not Luke!

  8. Danielle says:

    It’s even better hearing about it the second time around :) miss you! xo

  9. Erica says:

    Love this, but…. How have you just happened to never mention this??! ;)

  10. Heather says:

    Swoon! Such a romantic story. Takes me back to the last time I was in Paris. I was hanging out in a park with some girlfriends and group of French guys starts flirting with us. Then they serenade us and one even plays the ukulele! Oh, Paris :-)

  11. Emily says:

    Such a sweet story. Makes me really miss summer!

  12. Glo' says:

    On a day filled with romantic stories… This is absolutement my favorite!

  13. Emily says:

    What a lovely story – I love the way it’s told!

  14. Stacy says:

    This is the most Parisian story ever. I love it. I’ve had some rough moments over the past year of friend betrayals, and I’ve had days of wandering through streets or huddling down in Metro cars with tears streaming down my cheeks. And it never fails that the thing that ends up bringing me out of my cloud is the beauty and magic of this wonderful town. It has its flaws, of course, but it feels like a place where adventures begin. I hope your days are brighter now :)

  15. Anna says:

    This is fantastic! I got all tingly – a really perfect meet-cute, right out of a movie. Also a great argument for me to drag my butt out to Moscow events. Was there ever a sequel?

  16. Kaley says:

    LOVED this. Eeeeep

  17. Karisa says:

    I love this story! Paris at night, Monmartre, romance! It sounds like magic :)

  18. Explorista says:

    So romantic! Almost makes me wish I was still single. My meet-cute happened ages ago, sadly. And at a busstop, and not in Paris ;-). But we just spend Valentines Day in Paris so that makes up for it. I can’t wait to go back, and I’m dreaming of living there. It sounds like a magical evening :-)

  19. Oh, this story makes me smile, Edna!

  20. Lovely story, Edna, and just full of the wonderful magic that makes Paris so special. I love that they offer this in the option—seems like a great way to revel in the city and meet new people!

  21. Julie K. says:

    I think we have to believe that the world was created with a sense of order and for every loss there´s a gain.. Loved your story – it´s good to know things like that don´t happen in movies only. Wish you all the best!

  22. So So cute ! :D I smiled so big reading this!

  23. Liz Spinks says:

    Nicely told!

  24. THIS! This is why I travel and live abroad, moments like these.

  25. Silja says:

    This must be the most romantic story I’ve ever read in a blog. I guess it has to do with the fact that it’s about montmartre, midnight in Paris and curly haired French men… Three of my favorite France related things ;D

  26. Revé says:

    Just stopping by to say hi, I hope things are getting better for you :-)

  27. Jessica Wray says:

    Omg how did I miss this?! I loved this story oh-so-so much! LOVE!

    Did you just put this on for Valentine’s Day? haha It’s too cute and well-written to be true! ;)

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