June 24, 2012

The Lightning Strike

French class has been depressing me - not only because I'm not very good at it, but also because the lesson plan takes concepts like "love at first sight" to teach grammar lessons like the difference between the imparfait and passé composé tenses.

In French, "love at first sight" is communicated through the colloquial phrase coup de foudre, which literally translates into "lightning strike."

When it was my turn in class to describe my experience with a coup de foudre, I had no choice but to tell the painful story of my LA guy who I was seeing before I moved here, who I first met when I spotted him across a crowded room during a visit to LA.

I had to retell the story, in French, of him suddenly disappearing, and not admitting he'd found a girlfriend until I asked him point blank.

And all my classmates pitied me, in French, for both my story and for my difficulty in recounting it.

Thankfully, that's not my only experience being electrified by the sight of another. Who knows if it's really love, but it's certainly more than lust. In coup de foudre encounters, rarely is the other person the best-looking person you've ever seen. There's just something about them - how they appear, how they act, how they enter the room - that you just love, immediately. In the story I told in French class, what attracted me most to him was his desire for me. But in the other cases I can think of - both within the last two years - what struck me most was an overwhelming desire to answer the question, "Who is that?" I didn't want to kiss them, take them to bed, or give myself freely to them. I wanted to know who they were, inside and out.

In the case of the one that got away, the one I left behind in NYC, I only got four dates with him before he dumped me and I moved to LA, before I ever got to answer that question. But he remains in the back of my mind as someone I could love, if only he would give me the chance. If only he didn't live so far away.

And now - as I've gotten better at moving on, at forgetting - lightning has struck again here in LA. I never saw him coming, but once he arrived, I could not take my eyes off of him. The night we met, I refused to leave his side. And now I find myself drinking the coffee he left behind in my apartment - now cold and bitter - just to feel close to him.

It's not love - no, not yet - but I am électrisée. I can't explain it. I don't know who he is yet. But I am finding out.

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