His To Shatter
cloud. It
wasn’t fair that my parent’s pathetic relationship or the insidious
verbal abuse of my college boyfriend should keep me from exploring
my sexuality and discovering what I wanted from a relationship
myself. I resolved to be my own woman in Paris, whatever that
meant. If I wanted to go out dancing every free night, then I
should be allowed to. If I wanted to make eyes at a cute Frenchman
across a crowded cafe, I should be allowed to.
    I had started slowly on this new journey
toward freedom from guilt and shame. I didn’t want to jump in too
fast and scare myself, or let something like what had happened back
in New York occur again. There were so many layers of shame and
distaste separating me from the rest of the world. Years of living
in fear of my father, in resentment of my mother, had created a
barrier that was shielding me from some of the most exciting
aspects of life. It would take a lot of coaxing to bring those
walls down.
    So, I started challenging myself little by
little. When we were out to dinner, I started accepting first a
half glass, then a full glass of wine. I learned how to let alcohol
be a part of my life without being overwhelmed by it. Soon, it was
commonplace for me to share a bottle with the girls after a long
work week, camped out on my wood floor, trading anecdotes about our
travels and experiences so far. With so many new things happening
all around me, it was exciting to fold in this new element to my
    It took a little more self-encouragement to
start considering men along with my wine. I had very little
experience with sex, and less with casual flirtation. The only
casual sexual experience I’d ever had had ended very badly. I had
had an orgasm, sure, but waking up with a disgusting hangover and
crippling sense of shame was not exactly the best post-coital
experience. This time around, I wanted to discover the joy in
flirtation, the fun that could be had with a member of the opposite
    Dara and Ashlee were with me every step of
the way, as wonderful friends and excellent wingmen. I would point
out men that caught my eye during our trips around the city, and
they would help me find excuses to engage them in conversation.
Soon, I was doing this all on my own. When we went out to the
clubs, I would dance with men, accept their drinks sometimes, and
then part ways at the end of the evening without panicking. I
didn’t go home with any of them, or bring any home. That would have
been too much, too soon—like downing a whole bottle of wine when a
glass would suffice.
    The summer flew by, and soon August was
drawing to a close. I couldn’t believe how much I’d learned, how
much I’d grown since arriving in Paris. I truly didn’t want the
summer to end. But nothing gold can stay, as they say, and I had to
face the fact that soon I would be on my way back to the states.
Not that New York was a shoddy replacement for Paris, but The City
of Lights would always have a special place in my heart.
    * * * * *

Chapter Nine

    * * * * *
    During our final two weeks in Paris, the
three of us girls wrung every drop of excitement and experience
that we could out of the city. Ashlee's ensemble performed a
beautiful collection of one acts, I was commended at my internship
for the excellent work I had done, and Dara was speaking flawless,
beautiful French. To celebrate our successes, we planned an evening
out at the insanely popular nightclub, la Passerelle. It was a
gigantic space that had just opened up at the heart of the city,
and we’d been dying to check it out since we first heard of it.
    Getting ready to head out that night, I was
so proud of how far I’d come that summer. It wasn’t just my success
at work that was exciting, it was the fact that I was comfortable
with myself in social situations in a brand new way. I looked at
myself in the mirror as I arranged my hair into a tasteful up-do. I
had found a beautiful emerald green cocktail dress at a vintage
shop in the

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