I gotta say, this man and I, we have a pretty fantastic story. And I’m very happy to share it with you today.
Love stories with an element of fate, that is, star-crossed lovers, blatant destiny type clues left and right, they just leave us dreamy, and filled with the conviction of a meaningful Universe. And ours has been nothing short of that.
It all started when I was sixteen. Well, in truth, it started well before that. Because, growing up, I was absolutely boy-crazy (which started around three years old and only went in increments from there, to my parents’ despair). And with each boy and ensuing heartbreak, the image of my perfect lover got just a little clearer, a little more defined. And so, when I walked through the classroom door on our first day of college, well, this guy was it. Exactly as I’d pictured him. Long, light brown surfer-like hair. Brown eyes. Perfect features. Lean and tall. Beautiful hands. So cool and nonchalant looking. I melted.
For some context, I was enrolled in an honors program at our local community college where around 30 kids were to share three classes a semester for two years. We sure grew some bonds and had some awesome times (for any Cornerstoners reading this, I love you!). But back to that first day. I stepped into class and my eyes went straight to this extraordinarily handsome fella who captivated my attention so completely and instantly persuaded me through his simple being that this was the one I’d always been looking for. The world stopped as my vision focused onto this most beautiful creature before me, and I couldn’t quite tell if my heart had stopped beating or if it was now frantically drumming a whole brand new exciting song. Now, this ain’t about being shallow. First of all, I’m very sensitive to aesthetics, and secondly, well, looking back now, my intuition was clearly pointing out to some important happenings that were to take place a mere four years and a half later.
That’s right, ladies and gents, it took a little time to get the ball rollin’. Slightly less than four years.
So, you know, I had my eyes on this special man, who looked as cool and carefree as could be, and it was only a few minutes before my feelings were confirmed when some girl (an acquaintance from high school I’d learn later) came and sat next to him. Jealous (mhmm, possessive and boy-crazy, an only mildly psychotic French girl in such a tempered American romantic landscape, aah… cultural gaps at their best), but now determined to cast a spell on this mesmerizing human being, I went and sat on the back row, next to the girl who would become one of my absolute best friends and my partner in crime through the following years, and with whom I’d share in continuous general hilarity and countless obnoxious (only to others) episodes during and outside of class.
What happened for the next two years was a mix of fantasizing, stalking, and also just, living my life. It turned out this boy, by the name of Garett Scott Smith, soon to be known by my family and close friends as “GSS,” was exceedingly smart, kind, but also aloof and enigmatic in ways that made him just that much more intriguing. He was a complete lone wolf. We’d have group events outside of class but he never showed up, and while most of us grew pretty close and familiar with each other, there was still little to be known about the beau.
Now, there were many attempts on my part to make my way into this boy’s world. Some subtle, some not so subtle, and some quite forceful. But I must add, while I could sometimes gather some amount of sex appeal and flirtatious confidence to talk to boys I liked when special circumstances called for it, being anywhere in the vicinity of this one had me weak in the knees and stupid in the brain. The first time I spoke to Garett Scott Smith went something like this: we were to line up in front of the black board during our Texas government class (I don’t remember the occasion), and so, I gathered every ounce of my courage and walked up to Garett, and stood to his immediate left. After a few seconds of senseless thinking, I looked up and said “Wow… you’re so tall! Uhm.. How tall are you?” And those were my first words ever to Garett Scott Smith. A proud moment.
Other attempts encompassed understated classroom gazing, hallway seductive smiling, gentle Facebook interaction, befriending his entourage, striking casual conversation between classes, choosing seats just to be put in the same group project, you know, the usual. None of it got me any sign, I mean, ANY sign of the slightest interest. Never had I quite ever felt so ignored (okay, not entirely true, but you get my point).
Now, was I truly in love with the boy? Yes and no. To be honest, with myself most of all, I mean, I knew nothing of him. He certainly felt magnetic to me, and I was smitten by his intelligence (he spoke little in class, but when he did, it was something ingenious and knowledgeable). I couldn’t have helped but tell my family and close friends about the mysterious sexy dude who captured all of my attention during class. Yet, it seemed like we weren’t clicking. It just wasn’t happening. But being the romantic that I am, it was kind of nice to have this movie-like fantasy about a complete stranger I could daydream and muse about. It certainly made school a little more stimulating.
Two years went by. There was even a sort of climax that last semester of our program when a classmate had a fairly animated party with some people from our class and some of his own friends. I’d actually gotten pretty inebriated. You know that thing where people light a shot on fire then drop it in a beer then chug it? Yeah. That. I don’t know what it’s called and I’d never done it, and it completely annihilated me. Well, Garett wasn’t at this party of course. Somehow, I got a guy friend who knew him to call him, and invite him. But Garett said he was actually hosting his own little get together and couldn’t come. And then, he invited us. I mean, receiving the news that we were about to be in Garett Scott Smith’s house, enter GSS’s VERY OWN inner world was just an overwhelmingly sensational hallelujah kind of moment. And when we finally made it there, I was just on a cloud. Drunk on a cloud that is. And all of this to say, even in my fearless and liberated state, my reaching out was fruitless. Not a single palpitating incident took place.
After this, we both went to different universities. I went to a private school to study fashion merchandising, and he went to a Texas state university to study biomedical engineering. Boyfriends and girlfriends ensued, respectively. And life went on.
My last Summer before graduation, I went to New York City to complete a three month internship in public relations with Alexander Wang, actualizing one of my most passionate dreams. It was around this time that one day, out of the blue, Garett messaged me on Facebook. It was a casual few sentences inquiring about what I was up to in the Big Apple. And from this simple exchange began trickling down increasingly long conversations on everything, from music to film to philosophy and a little on our personal lives. Quite frankly, there was nothing romantic in there, and all these years later, he wasn’t on my mind anymore. But in a curious and friendly way, we suddenly had so much to share! We discovered common interests, including our love for writing. To this day, Garett and I write each other the most ridiculously long prose.
Soon into my fashion internship, I realized that, this job, and this industry, would never fulfill my heart’s deep burning desires. Neither would living in New York, an absolutely extraordinary but hectic city that had my nervous system a little too stimulated. I thus decided to move back to France. I’d moved from France to the States when I was thirteen, leaving me with a longing sense of unfinished business and the instinctual need to reunite with my family and culture. I’d made the choice to move to Paris right after graduating in December. Though I’m a Southern girl and love the French Riviera region through and through, I’d been to the capital more recently and fallen in love with the most fascinating and legendary beauty that is Paris.
A couple of months before moving to Paris, a new energy emerged within me. I was completely elated to be moving out on my own, beginning my first big girl job and starting a brand new life back in my homeland, which I had missed terribly for seven years now. I felt incredibly good. Just happy and radiant and on-top-of-the-world kind of good. I was unstoppable.
Another feeling came up: this was the time to bring closure to my American life. So much had happened and been learned through my time in Texas, and it was time to celebrate and bring this chapter to a truly and satisfyingly conclusive end. Which made me realize that, if there was anything I needed to do to be fully free, or anything I wanted to do for the hell of it, for the fun of it, for the risk of it, it was now or never, and I had nothing to lose. This newfound boldness enticed me to see some old flames and to partake in some amusing shenanigans. When it dawned on me: the ultimate: the GSS. I just couldn’t leave the United States of America without spending some time, one on one, with the one and only. By now, we’d been writing for months, and it had never come up to actually hang out, even though we just so happened to live a bare 15 minutes away from each other. But I knew it had to happen.
The funny thing is, about a month earlier, my mom had spoken some foretelling words that had sparked a little curious question mark in my heart. One night, I was sitting out on the back patio with my mom, my brother, and two of his girl friends. Each person was openheartedly telling their life’s biggest love story with a passion and realness worthy of such sacred late night talks. When it came to me, I began to talk about my ex-boyfriend, when my mom suddenly interrupted me and said, why don’t you tell us the story of Garett Smith instead?
And so I did.
And there I was, some weeks later, about to ask this mythical protagonist of my life’s story (only unbeknownst to him), to spend some time with me face to face.
Now, this is another moment I remember crystal clear. I was sitting on my laptop, down on the blue coffee table I used as my desk. I’d written back a long message on our habitual topics, and was ready to close down my answer with a request to hang out. As I began writing the question… I was back to being a twelve year-old school girl. It was completely impossible to formulate this simple sentence. Not in a way that was cool enough anyway. I ran back and forth to my (younger) brother’s room, asking him for advice. Demanding that he spell out exactly word for word what I should say to him. When we finally came up with the perfect phrase, words and syntax and smiley face and all, as I hit that “Send” button, I literally began unabashedly screaming and jumping up and down in an irrepressible need to let out the insane amount of energy that had built up in the preceding moments. It was kind of a happy dance too. But in that psycho French girl kind of way.
Stay tuned for Part II and some pictures of our early dating days… (There just weren’t really any adequate era-relevant pictures for this article, except for those secretly snapped classroom shots, but, let’s face it, you and I aren’t quite intimate enough for that yet; soon enough though! For now, some photos taken on my birthday last month before we headed out for a wondrous date day of adventures.)
Love, love, love aplenty!