Julie had been unhappy with things in her life for a while; her life-long partner, the man she expected to spend the rest of her life with, had been moody and distant lately. He wasn’t responding with his usual cheerfulness and upbeat attitude that made her fall in love with him so many years ago. The problems were both big and little, such as he’d never taken her to Paris although she wanted to go since she could remember, but little, daily things as well. She craved the company of someone who loved her and wanted to be with her, but felt that her lover and partner for the last fifteen years was pulling away. His desire lately to have space between then was pulling her apart at the seams and her heart was slowly falling into a deep depression.
Julie knew she had to get away and clear her head, to give her time to think about what she wanted to do about John and the rest of her life. As luck would have it, some of her girlfriends were planning a trip to Paris, so Julie decided that she would take her dream trip with them instead. Paris is romantic and she would have preferred to go with John, but she couldn’t wait forever.
“The next few days seemed to drag on forever; Julie kept looking around for something, but she didn’t understand what was making her feel so unenthusiastic about Paris…”
John was out of town on business and wouldn’t be back until the end of the month. Without even bothering to tell him she was going, Julie decided she would leave a long letter for John to read when he got back, explaining her feelings and her need for a separation. The letter was heartfelt, sad, but she did her best to explain what had happened and why her feelings had changed. She wished him the best of luck in his life and future loves, and propped the letter up so it’d be the first thing he saw when he returned home.
Boarding the plane with her friends, Julie felt unnerved, yet giddy, like she was floating on a sea of lost hope and was about to embark on a journey to find herself. Energized, yet distraught, Julie threw herself into enjoying the trip and the company of people she knew wanted to be with her and who enjoyed her companionship.
The first few days were everything she dreamed it would be, beautiful and exotic as Paris’s tourist attractions have inspired and energized visitors for centuries. The first day Julie, Donna, Deloris and Cheryl walked along the banks of the Seine River, watching the river slowly meander toward the Eiffel Tower before they walked over to the tower and spent time simply enjoying each others’ company and appreciating the structure that has enthralled millions. The second day the girls got up early so they could take a river boat ride on the Seine River and spent the day slowly traveling up the river and taking in the sights from the boat. They toured Paris’s famous Louvre museum, and while Julie especially wanted to see the Mona Lisa, the museum was full of wonders from around the world. She was told on the bottom floor that the Mona Lisa Exhibit was on the second floor, in the Devon Wing of the Louvre, so Julie headed up there. Mona Lisa’s smile made Julie feel comfortable in the ancient girl’s presence; somehow though her smile seemed to convince Julie that something was missing, but she couldn’t quite understand what it was. The glitter of Paris, the warm and friendly people, didn’t seem to strike a chord within her; the city of her dreams didn’t fill her with the desire for more that she expected to feel in such an exclusive and amazing city.
The next few days seemed to drag on forever; Julie kept looking around for something, but she didn’t understand what was making her feel so unenthusiastic about Paris, this city that was alive and thriving, especially when compared to her hometown full of forests and plains.
The next day Julie made apologies to her friends who were planning to spend the day window shopping in the expensive business districts of Paris for themselves and gifts for the unlucky ones left at home. She told them she was feeling a little under the weather and that she probably had caught some exotic international bug that was making her feel like an old pair of unwashed socks. She didn’t want to involve them in her depression and ruin the trip they had been planning for months; if they knew how she felt, being her good friends she knew it would bring them all down.
So she spent the day in her hotel room, sitting near the window and looking at the beautiful city of Paris, the city for lovers, thinking about her life and what she wanted from the future. She knew she still loved John, but she just wasn’t sure she wanted to fight for their relationship, not when John didn’t seem to understand her need for their relationship to grow and become more than it was. She wondered what he would do when he read the “Dear John” letter she’d left for him. Part of her wanted him to take the next flight to Paris where they would reunite and explore the city together. Another part of her wondered how she would feel if she came home and he’d moved all of his things out.
As she gazed over the bustling city, she had a yearning desire to share this experience, this city, this LIFE, with John. Julie decided at that moment that she wasn’t going to let their years together be a waste, that she would have to find a way to make him understand her need for their relationship to grow and become something in which they both could find what they were looking for.
Leaving a note for her friends at the hotel desk, Julie rushed to the airport and booked a seat on the next flight home. She needed to arrive before John got home and discovered her note.
The flight home was a nerve-wracking experience for Julie, worried that John might have come home early from his business trip and found her note; she spent the time chattering incoherently with whoever would listen.
Arriving late at night, she quickly hailed a cab and rushed home; John was due tomorrow morning. She was cutting it close, but if he was on schedule like the clock he normally was, then he would come walking in the door about nine tomorrow morning. When the cab pulled up, the house was dark and she let herself collapse from the stress and relief.
Julie slept little that night, still worried about the outcome of tomorrow’s confrontation but knowing she had to make him see that their relationship needed to grow and expand or it would eventually die and fade into history.
Julie never did give John the letter; instead she welcomed with a love, warmth, and understanding that she hoped would make him see that she still loved him and wanted to be with him. John came back from his month-long business trip with a better attitude than the one he left with, or at least that’s the way it seemed to Julie. Looking back, she feels she had let her emotions get the best of her, and probably read more into the situation then was there. Julie’s emotions had taken her down a road that could have cost her the person she loved.
Today Julie is alone, although not by choice. John passed away a few years after she returned from her unplanned trip to Paris, and since then she has moved on in her life and is currently searching for a new love to fill her with the feeling she and John shared for years. She knows that although John died a young man and left a hole for her to fill, he would want her to be loved and love someone like him and it would make him smile wherever he is.
Thank you Julie, for sharing your Story with us.
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© 2008 by Warren James Hayashi and Story of My Life