How We Met
Austin and I studied abroad during the spring semester of 2010. I lived in London in Regent’s Park with four of the best flat-mates a girl could ask for. Austin lived in Paris in the Pigalle neighborhood with a host mom.
~This was not the Ritz Carlton of neighborhoods at the time. Let’s just say I lived in the Red Light District. While Abby lived near a park, I lived near a countless array of “Adult Stores.” It certainly made for interesting people watching but was by no means the upper crust of society. There was no midnight strolls for me here.
One of my friends from college was in his study abroad program and about 3 weeks into our semester she and her friends planned on coming to London to celebrate my birthday and explore the city. At the train station buying their tickets, Austin accidentally buys a ticket for the following weekend and since they were nonrefundable he was stuck coming the next weekend by himself.
~Let’s get one thing straight right away, I didn’t accidentally buy the wrong ticket. We all agreed to come to London in two weeks. As we all found a kiosk at the train station to buy said tickets there must have been a follow up meeting that I was not a part of because when we all reconvened they had bought tickets for the upcoming weekend. NOT COOL right!? Survival of the fittest while on a student budget I suppose. Either way, I wasn’t missing out on going to London.
I let him stay with me anyway since we had mutual friends in the study abroad community and my cousin Kate was coming to visit the same weekend and I was staying with her in the hotel. We both admit today that we probably would not have connected if he came with all his friends in a big group. But who knows! It all started…
Friday, February 5, 2010 – London, England
After class on Friday, Austin arrive at my beloved Flat 11.
~Well actually, I arrived in London at 5am (cheapest ticket side effects). I subsequently had 6 hours to kill while carrying all my luggage around the city. Naturally, I found a bar and camped out there until most of my spending money was gone. Nothing like kicking off my London adventure with 3 to 4 Strongbow Ciders and a fried Full English breakfast.
It was one of the few days in my time in London that I went for a run, I’m wearing a sweaty white v-neck and leggings. Far from cute. I heard the elevator on its way up to the top floor so I was out to the hallway to greet Austin. I can picture it so clearly: Austin’s back is facing me because there are two exit doors on the elevator and I say introduce myself. Austin immediately leans in for a hug and I swiftly move to give him an awkward side hug instead. Now knowing that I’m not a big hugger, we laugh about how awkward that first encounter was to this day. Not a great first impression.
~I might say I was trying to be friendly. She might as well have smashed a pie in my face. Definitely shot down! However, guys I certainly recommend going for the hug. If you can laugh off the embarrassment of a denial, there’s only upside if she is down for it.
Knowing this guy thinks I’m weird, I make my friend Kasey come eat dinner with us at a nearby pub. To be honest, that meal was pretty unmemorable.
~Fries with vinegar. I still can’t understand that.
Fast forward to the next morning, my cousin Kate arrives in London. Austin, Kate, and I spend the next few days sightseeing around London together. Austin and I get closer and less awkward as the weekend goes on. On his last night, my roomies, Kasey, and Kate sit me down and say they think Austin likes me. I’m so shocked and clearly oblivious. But later on, Austin and I have a heart to heart chat and Austin asks me out on a date for the next weekend in Paris, which was trip that was already scheduled. I say NO, that I am going to visit our friend and I don’t think that is what she had in mind when I’m supposed to be staying with her and hanging out with her in Paris like she did with me in London. He says he understands and we stay up and chat all night until he has to leave for his train back to Paris.
~I was going to make this happen. I may have said I was cool with her saying NO, but I was going to work my magic and make some serious moves to get that date.
Later that week, Austin messages me on Facebook and says that our friend said it was fine if we go out on a date on Friday night and that also her host mom says she can’t have an visitors stay overnight and that I could stay with him instead of a hostel by myself.
~See I told you I’d make it happen.
I of course take him up on that offer realizing this will be a lot of one-on-one time, so that’s adding pressure to this date that also happens to be on Valentine’s Day weekend.
Friday, February 12, 2010 – Paris, France
On my first night in Paris, we had our first date. We started with a trip up the steps of Sacré Coeur. We veered to the left, stopping on the walk up to Place du Tertre to drink a bottle of red wine waiting for the Eiffel Tower to sparkle.
~Solid first date planning. Red wine, the Eiffel Tower sparkling, etc… I brought my A-Game to this date for sure. Lesson be learned guys.
We talked for the 45 minutes before we shared our first kiss when the Eiffel Tower sparkled. Cheesy, we know, but it’s true! Then we walked up to have dinner at La Mère Catherine. Having gone back there since, it seems super touristy, but at the time it felt authentically Parisian with red and white tablecloths, a pianist and French singer serenading the restaurant. We split an order of cheese ravioli and tiramisu that I remember being absolutely delicious.
~Super authentic French food right?
We sat on the same side of the table and enjoyed ourselves. After the date, we met up with friends at a jazz club and hopped around Paris. I also distinctly remember Austin calling his mom and had me talk on the phone with her, which is so funny now.
~Another strong move to get the mother involved. All about laying the foundations.
The whole weekend was so memorable, especially being my first time in Paris. We officially became a couple a couple weekends later when I came back to Paris and continued to travel around Europe together meeting in Amsterdam, Vienna, Nice, Rome, Florence, Venice, and Paris again and again.
~I must say that traveling with a significant other really puts the relationship to the test and certainly gages your compatibility. If you can travel and explore and share in new places and experiences, while growing in your affection, it adds such a depth of substance to that connection. Doing this early on in our dating was such a blessing and only confirmed our feelings that we had something special going on.
My parents even came for spring break and we met Austin in Paris for a day trip from London on Easter. Austin showed us around Paris with pages and pages of history notes to give my parents a full historical tour of Paris. It was adorable.
~I stayed up until 4am researching and making notes on dates, and history, and monuments, and architecture. I certainly wanted to make a good impression. I highly recommend it fellas. Not preparing is preparing to fail!
I also ended up meeting Austin’s brother Taylor in London and we toured Westminster Abbey together. While the whole semester feels like a blur, it also holds some of the fondest and clearest memories for me. I’ll forever cherish those first few months of our relationship. While it may have been an unconventional or serendipitous evolution to a dating relationship, it’s one that will always be viewed as “meant to be.” And we are both forever grateful for that initial train station mix up.