Preface: The conclusion of my first trip to Paris.
I see Nouri in the distance, exactly where he said he'd be. As I approach him, his grin reminds me of seeing a friend that you haven't seen in ages. We laugh, maybe because this meeting is extremely strange, but he breaks all tension when he gives me that famous French introduction: la bise. Yes, I have been officially inducted into a french friendship.
He gives me a quick overview of what's planned for the night and we were off. Nouri made sure I was well educated in getting around on my own, sightseeing and eating well. He was kind enough to pronounce every street sign and metro station name to assure that I sounded like I belonged here.
And we made it to the Eiffel Tower in enough time to see it sparkle at the top of the hour. I enjoyed the iconic view while we ate crêpes and drank coffee on the steps of the Trocadéro. It was a scene that Hollywood has duplicated many times before, but this was my life. It was surreal.
"It was a scene that Hollywood has duplicated many times before, but this was my life."
We sat in comfortable silence when I noticed we were wearing the same shoes. It was my sign that we were meant to cross paths. Nouri casually asks what my plans were for the rest of my trip and offered to "show me around". Never would I have guessed it would include running all over Paris like a couple of kids without parental supervision. Our time together was so effortless and entertaining that I dubbed us, "The Algerican" in celebration of our nationalities, Algerian and American.
Nouri made several guest appearances on my social media which had my phone in a notification frenzy I wasn't prepared for. I could tell he was amused that I was getting so many questions about him. And that was okay in my book because I couldn't imagine being in better company.
For an entire week, Paris was our playground and he was exploring it all over again as I was discovering it for the first time. We were having the time of our lives.
And you are probably wondering what happened with Ahmad. I did manage to leave him a text that spilled out of my heart and soul: "Thank you for saving me in the only way you knew how. It was you alone that got me to come to Paris because never in a million years would I have come here any other way. I would still be sitting at home making the same excuses I've always made of why I couldn't come. I have wanted to come to Paris for almost 30 years and you got me here, to live a dream and find myself again. For me to discover that there is love in this world for me. Allowing me to live fearlessly. And showing me that taking a risk with my heart is always worth taking. I will forever be grateful."
I wore my heart on my sleeve and came to Paris to see if love was waiting for me. Little did I know love was here this entire time. I fell in love with Paris and Paris definitely loved me back.