Romance on the Metro

Summer love in Paris

Brianna Conrey

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Parisian metro stop in front of lush trees and an apartment building
Photo by Margarida Louro on Unsplash

In my mind’s eye, the metro ticket is wrinkled and blue, but when I find it in the scrapbook, it turns out to be smooth and green. It is stuck to the back of the only photo I have to prove I once had a French boyfriend.

It was the summer of 2000, and I was 19, studying abroad in Paris. My fellow students and I lived in a hostel that had some sort of connection with a convent. The rules of separation between the sexes were strictly enforced, much to the dismay of a young college couple who were also in my program. We ate communally, hung our laundry in the basement after using the sole washing machine (there was no dryer), and shared a bank of four phone booths for all our calls. In the mornings, we took our classes. In the afternoons, we were supposed to engage in purposeful sightseeing, with a goal of checking off around 30 museums, neighborhoods, and other unique Parisian landmarks by the end of our stay. I relished the sightseeing, but over time began to look forward just as much to the unstructured evenings, when we would venture out to eat and drink and generally entertain ourselves in the city.

On one of those evenings, my friends and I went to a Bal des Pompiers, a public “firemen’s ball” traditionally held by the main fire station in each Parisian arrondissement each Bastille Day. I was dancing with my friends, and…

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Brianna Conrey

Family, relationships, and life after divorce with a twist of humor. Exploring happiness, creativity, and how to be a good person in a complicated world.