Two Best Friends Return to Paris to Fulfill a Promise

It's story-time! This week I am telling you a story with hopes that it inspires you to say yes to something big in the name of friendship.... despite the excuses we all make so easily.

Once Upon a Time....

Our story begins with an idealistic freshman collegiate girl who saw a poster promoting the opportunity to study abroad in Paris for 3 months.  While she knew not a word of French, it didn't stop her from trying to talk everyone she knew into going with her on this glamorous-sounding adventure. Everyone eyed her like she was crazy except for one friend, Valerie, who within moments said, "I'm in."

Wanting their passport photos would look as chic and grown-up as they felt, they made the horrible mistake of both chopping off their long hair right before the adventure. Therefore, our young heroines--one sporting a haircut that was basically a mullet, and the other with bangs that started at the back of her head-- set off for Paris with little more preparation than learning how to say Bonjour on the airplane over the Atlantic.

To anyone who knows Shasta or Valerie, it will come as no surprise that their favorite activity while living abroad was eating the local food (and they each came home with an extra 20 lbs to prove that point!).  So much so that it made sense to them, at the time, that paying the 17 Francs to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower wasn't as compelling as buying a week's worth of pastries and bread. They figured they had seen great views from the top of Notre Dame and that pastries were much more important than "tourist traps."  But needing to bolster that decision, they idealistically announced that they'd "save it" for romance and come back someday together with the "men of their dreams." They patted themselves on the back that they could assuage any guilt for not ponying up the money and assured themselves that these imaginary men would one day thank them for the privilege of having Eiffel-Tower virgins to accompany them to the top.

The Paris Promise was made: they'd return.

Twenty Years Later...

It wasn't an easy promise to keep.  There were many times when both doubted whether it would ever happen as it just never seemed realistic or likely. Neither of them ever had thousands of dollars sitting around looking to be spent, (especially knowing that if they ever did return they'd need more budget than last time)! ha! And it seemed one or the other was always in graduate school, pregnant, going through a divorce, or had some other big reason why an international trip wasn't possible any given year.

But a couple of years ago, they started saying, "We simply have to do it."

And finally--this month--they did.

In January they booked discounted airline tickets on a sale, split the cost on a two-bedroom AirBnB, and saved up all their extra money to eat their way through France once again (this time hoping that 20 lbs couldn't be added in a mere 2 weeks, right?!?) Plus, as fantasized, this time they arrived with the men they love by their side.

These two best friends retraced steps and recalled memories.  They laughed at who they had been twenty years prior.  They grimaced over photos from the first trip; and then decided they might as well just be grateful that they had set the bar so low back then that now it was fairly easy to believe they had indeed improved with age! They toasted that they were still friends after all these years; and celebrated how much they'd created the lives that were mere fantasies when they were 18.  They bonded as friends, and as couples. . And they smiled.  And hugged. And laughed. A lot.

Here are a few photos:

A fun photo re-enactment at Les Invalides in Paris, twenty years later. (And please tell me we look better now!)

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The Moral of the Story...

It's really easy to make up excuses for why we can't do something.  And by excuses, I don't mean that they aren't real reasons. In fact our reasons are usually pretty good as most of us feel limited by the constraints of time or money, or both.

For us to pull this trip off-- Valerie and her husband had to find childcare for their three kids, my husband and I had to put some of it on our credit cards, and all of us had to say no to other things in order to say yes to this.

But I can attest that after having had the privilege of traveling with friends, as couples, that it was worth every decision that got us there. It was incredibly special and bonding.

Your story doesn't need to be a return trip to Paris with a friend from 20 years ago... it can be a camping trip this summer with a group of new friends, or an invitation to a friend to meet you in Mexico for a 3-night deal, or the decision to go on a day-trip with another couple.

All you need is a willingness to plan ahead to do something bigger with someone than meeting for dinner, the courage to extend invitations to others to join you on a memory-making adventure, and the commitment to devote some time and money to that time together.  Traveling with friends--whether driving an hour out-of-town for a day-trip or jumping on a plane for a weekend away-- logs more hours together and guarantees more bonding than meeting for a gazillion lunches ever could!  Shared memories bond us to each other in accelerated ways.

This summer:  what adventure do you want to do and are you willing to put that idea into action?