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Day 163: See France.


For my birthday, Aurelien had given me a postcard with three destinations in France to choose to go on a weekend away with him. The choices were going to the sea during an off-season in Nice, a weekend in the vineyards of Burgundy, or a tour through the château in Loire. Wanting to go somewhere new and since I had gone to Nice with Monsieur Flâneur that was crossed out, I also had gone to Burgundy with my first Paris boyfriend Lucien. Lucien who used to tell me to run around the Eiffel Tower to lose my "hips and thighs fats" [sic], would take the food off my plate and place it next to my thigh to show me where it will go next, and would accuse me of grazing during the day because I eat a 3:00 goûter of fresh fruit and some nuts before a 9pm dinner. Goûter is a French word, no? He was so gross. So Loire Valley it is! 

The last time I went on a vacation with a new boyfriend, it didn't go as well as I had imagined. Flashback time. It was about a month into my relationship with Monsieur Flâneur and he had invited me to go to Nice with him for a week. The relationship was new, it was summer in France and I was in love. It was a dream. I couldn't find a reason not to go even if I tried. I was finally going to live out my fantasy and be the star of a Serge Gainsbourg song Sea, Sex and Sun. Famous last words.

The story is a drop long, but for my girls nursing a broken heart, I urge you to read on and for the rest, enjoy the worst vacation horror story in the South of France. Bear with me here.

We arrived in Nice at around 8am after a 12-hour drive from Paris and it was pouring rain. We were so tired it hurt, we could barely keep our bloodshot red stinging eyes open. We let ourselves into our vacation rental, a lovely three bedroom apartment equipped with a full kitchen, dining room, living room and balcony filled with flowers in colors of magenta, rose and violet. It was perfect. I had made the bed in one of the bedrooms for us to sleep in and because of the rain, there was no point in trying to recover the day. Just as we were settled in after our shower and I was putting out some viennoiserie to eat before nestling in when the doorbell rang. It was MF's friends from the neighborhood whom he hasn't seen in over a year. "Ok," I said to myself. "I'll make some coffee and perk up because these are his friends from when he used to vacation here as a child and would hate it if I was deprived of seeing my friends because my new boyfriend was tired." Working on an hour of sleep and their thick Niçoise accents (which have different inflections than the Parisian accent that at the time I was only just starting to understand), I struggled. 

After coffee which turned into lunch which turned into 3 bottles of Rosé and them sharing funny stories with me about their summers spent on the beach, I was truly wiped out and secretly wanted them to leave so I could just take a cat nap and start fresh the next day. My secret wish had been granted and just as they were leaving, coming up the hallway stairs was MF's family. His brother, his Catalan girlfriend, his mother and his father. MF greeted them as if we were in Paris and they were just stopping by, 12 hours out of the way. This wasn't a coincidence, this was planned and MF had just told me that they were vacationing with us. Now the other two bedrooms had made more sense. He swore up and down that he told me but while my French at the time may have been shaky, I surely would have understood "Ma famille vient." Ok. Not that I didn't like his family, but after only a month of dating, a vacation with the family speaking your newly acquired second language can be overwhelming to say the absolute least. Essentially, I was on vacation with a bunch of strangers who I wanted to like me. No pressure. 

I bucked up and said to myself "I can do this, I'm Italian, we invented the art of breaking down boundaries and comfort zones." I was armed with my Becherelle should I come face to face with a conjugation crisis now that his parents were there and the formal vous would need to be spoken. 

MF ignoring my request to sleep, had planned for us to go to a discotheque that night after his friend Caroline who also happened to be in Nice came over with more Rosé to bitch about her on and off relationship. Her emotionally abusive boyfriend was flying into Nice that night and she didn't know what to do. Don't see him? Easier said than done though. I get it. 

Why didn't I just go to the other room and sleep? Because MF's mother took the sheets off our bed to wash them, which was very sweet but also robbed me of the option to sleep. I am not my best when I am hungry and/or tired (like most people, no?) and the big joke between MF and Caroline was how awful and tired I looked. It was so funny. Really.

The following morning, it was bright and sunny and blowing off the argument MF and I had over the stupid ass discotheque that I refused to go to, we were starting fresh and happily went to meet a girlfriend of mine that I knew from Paris and who had moved down to Monaco for lunch. I felt like France was becoming my home because on our little vacation, I too had people to see and was proud to bring MF with me to meet one of my friends. 

We went to the open air market in town for salads, and MF and my friend really hit it off! So much that my friend claimed she didn't speak English anymore (okay, so how were we friends then?) as she hung on every word I tried to understand. This lasted for four painful hours where they didn't speak to me, only every so often to explain something slower because I didn't understand "fast French." This chick wasted no time in adding him on Facebook an hour after we parted from the lunch from hell. At the time, I wasn't even friends with him on Facebook. 

The following day, we went to have lunch with his other female friend, Nicole. Nicole enjoyed saying things to me in English so MF wouldn't understand. Goodies like "You don't have to be jealous of me. MF doesn't like girls with large breasts" or "Make sure to keep him happy otherwise he will always have me to fill his emotional void. Before you, we used to talk on the phone for like 5 hours a day."  

We met her at a café on the beach where it was sprinkled with topless sunbathers (Europe!), Nicole joined in on the fun and greeted us, boobies and all. We went to her cabana for drinks...where she remained topless. We went to get a light lunch...where she remained topless. Honestly, I struggled here. I didn't know where to divert my eyes because they were just so right there. For the record, I'm not prude, I sunbathe topless too but if a guy friend of mine is coming to meet me with his girlfriend, I'm not going to sit there and nonchalantly sip on mojitos while strategically letting the glass rub up against my bare chest allowing the condensation to drip off my cold nipples. Call me old-fashioned. Because I was trying to be the "cool girlfriend," you know, the one who has no opinion and is never irritated because she is just so coolI left them at the beach café to catch up while I went to get a blow out at a nearby salon. The plan was to meet them at the brasserie in town two hours later which should have been enough time for them to catch up. 

I arrived at the brasserie feeling fabulous and refreshed with my thick curly hair blown out in bouncy beach waves, nothing was going to bring me down. Since MF and Nicole hadn't arrived yet, I ordered a coffee and chatted with the barman who had been serving us all week. They arrived shortly after and MF couldn't resist commenting that he preferred my hair curly, and Nicole said she didn't notice a difference. But none of it mattered because I was buzzed off the fact that Nicole was leaving soon to go to Cannes to meet up with her boyfriend for the rest of the vacation. Bye Nicole!

My buzz came to screeching halt when MF ordered: "Un café pour ma chérie, s'il vous plaît!" The server who certainly knew we were a couple was confused, who was chérie? Certainly not me in this context, I for one was already drinking a café. The barman looked at me and then at Nicole who looked satisfied as if she was a cat who just pissed on her territory and said: "C'est pour moi." A coffee for his sweetheart?! His baby? His darling? I know in France this word is used more loosely than it is in the States but on top of everything that was happening, I was reaching my limit. 

We got back to the house and 'Chérie' came too where I could no longer hide my frustration. Fuck "cool girlfriend." I was done. Done. He then told me he was driving her back to her hotel. 

"How did she get here?" I asked, tightly. "And where is her boyfriend?" 

It was only 5pm, the sun was out, she had gotten to the beach on her very own and I didn't feel like lending my boyfriend out anymore. They already had their beach romp. Ça suffit, now. With a slight acknowledgment to my discontent, he gave me French shrug and left me in the apartment...with his family whom I barely knew or could communicate with. 

His brother and girlfriend were taking a nap, as was the dad who was sleeping on the couch in his underwear and his mother was out grocery shopping. I sat on the bed in our room and tried to read a book but just looked out on to the balcony at the waving palm trees wondering if I was being too sensitive or if he was being completely inappropriate this week. I didn't know anymore. Was I this insecure chick who couldn't get it together on a trip to the South of France?
What was wrong with me?

I later found out that 'Chérie' took the car ride as an opportunity to tell MF her concerns about me, and that I was not normal, and MF said he would have to agree. 

Breathe...

I'm not normal. I'm not normal because I don't want my new boyfriend calling another woman baby in front of me. I'm not normal because I don't want to be called dramatic when I am exhausted after driving for 12 hours overnight. I'm not normal because I don't want to go clubbing on zero sleep. I'm not normal because I don't like to be ignored at a lunch of three people when I'm the person in common. I'm not normal because I don't want my boyfriend flirting with my friends in front of me. I'm not normal because I don't want to be left in an apartment alone on our vacation while she feeds him tales on how I am not normal? Again, where was this girl's boyfriend? 

MF came back four hours later when I was quietly having dinner with his family in the tiny kitchen. Four hours? Where was her hotel? Italy? I was pissed, he knew it and he loved it. 

It took me a long time to realize that he is so insecure that he needs a fan club of females vying for his attention to make him feel worthy. The same reason why after we broke up and he was angry because I didn't cause the dramatic scene that he was expecting and wasn't showing enough grief. What a piece of work.

He got away with it because I was in love and I defended him. I had the problem. I was sensitive. I was dramatic. I needed to work better on being the cool girlfriend, I remember thinking. It's easier to just let everything be my fault because I could control me much better than I could control him and if it's my fault that I can change the situation and make myself "better." I thought if I was nicer, more understanding, happier than he would stop doing these things.

I have all the faith in the world that none of these stupid things will happen this weekend in the Loire with Aurelien because with him I don't need to work so hard. It's not a struggle. A relationship should be the bright spot of your life, not the agony. Why is it taking my 30s to understand this?

11 comments:

  1. oh GAWD, sorry to tell you this (but maybe you want to hear this), your ex sounds like a complete douche... and I mean that NOT in the French way.

    Lovely post. :-)

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  2. Your comment is so satisfying. Whenever I write these flashbacks out in my posts, I'm reminded exactly why I am not with him. He sucks.

    Thanks for the confirmation! : )

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  3. I hate MF. I just have to say it. He sounds HORRIBLE. How could he treat you so carelessly?

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  4. This story is truly infuriating. I would have been so pissed. What girl can accept that? No one I know.

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  5. "You don't have to be jealous of me. MF doesn't like girls with large breasts"

    I remember this, you were fucking pissed. I hated hearing about this girl. Seriously, who says shit like this?

    Aren't you glad that you don't have to deal with this anymore??????? :)

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  6. MA chérie, It was so wonderful meeting you in Paris...even if it did end in a drunken blur. You've inspired me to now to not only want to move to Paris, but to actually do it. Hope to see you in December if you're there. Let me know.

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  7. @kristen - It was so nice meeting you! Thank you for taking a starving writer out on the town! Us American girls know how to pain the town red!

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  8. @Rachel, Anony and Kitty - I know, he blows. I should have ran for the hills right then and there!! I was not a happy camper.

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  9. Il est connard, ce mec. J'en ai marre de lui. Comme vous dites "ugh!". : )

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  10. I just found you through La Petit Village, and have read this hilarious recount of the vacation from hell! I am sure that it was horrid at the time, but will make for a great tell-all collection of short stories. Delightful!

    Bises,
    Genie

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  11. Thanks, Genie! At the time I was pretty ticked off but now almost two years later, it's really entertaining! I definitely amused myself writing it! It's funny how things seem so obvious from a distance, i should have run, run, run from hills after this vacation! Hindsight really is 50/50, eh?

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