The French Connection: A real-life love story
It’s not your typical love story, but, despite all odds, it was meant to be. They met in college and their friendship evolved into what is referred to by today’s modern lingo as BFFs.
Her name is Elizabeth. His is Andrew. She grew up in Westport, he in a Philadelphia suburb. As luck would have it, they both chose to matriculate at the same university.
Time passed. Elizabeth graduated, leaving Andrew — a mere sophomore — behind. Their friendship continued via phone and emails, and long distance became de rigueur, as they inevitably disappeared into the vast unknown future of their respective lives. Elizabeth eventually married and has two children, Andrew (hmm) and Caroline. Andrew graduated, married a French woman, moved to France, and has children Alice and Mathis. Their lives moved on, and years passed.
Allow me to digress: Elizabeth is my daughter. Back in the 1980s, when I first met Andrew, I was immediately drawn to him. This would be the man I would choose for my daughter ... as if I even had a choice in such decisions.
“He’s terrific,” I told Liz.
“Oh, Mom, we’re best friends,” came her retort.
A good start, I thought.
“And, he’s a sophomore. I’m a senior.”
Ah, the younger man, older woman syndrome. How utterly delicious.
But because daughters rarely heed their mothers’ advice on such matters, the subject was quickly dropped, and the two BFFs continued exploring their friendship.
Long distance is a crafty intruder. Endless amounts of determination, planning and frequent flier miles are required for sporadic moments of time-limited gratification. But according to the quote by Henri J.M. Nouwen to which Elizabeth and Andrew subscribe: “How lucky I am to have someone special to miss.”
Similarly, I, a woman who has survived the loss of a husband, and knows the longing of distance, I, too, am no stranger to the swollen emotions of separation and aborted physical continuity.
More years passed. Elizabeth and Andrew found themselves alone once more: two single parents in two different countries, until serendipity swooped in and another door opened. And, as it was bound to happen, the love story took flight.
Fast forward to 2014, when my granddaughter, Caroline, was invited to enroll in a high school exchange program in France. Andrew offered to be Caroline’s “French Connection” should any needs arise, and the correspondence, once again, accelerated. Time — the great equalizer — stepped in to settle the matter. Ironically, and adding more intrigue to this scenario, Elizabeth was offered a job with a company headquartered in New York and Paris. She found herself a regular commuter between the two cities, and suddenly, “geographically undesirable” became “geographically accessible” as Elizabeth and Andrew’s friendship blossomed into “Une Affaire du Coeur.” (Thank you, Caroline.)
A few weeks ago, on July 14 — Bastille Day — the two BFFs, Elizabeth and Andrew, were married, the culmination of their unrelenting journey on a path well-traveled, thus merging past with present, and proving, once again, the old adage: “Love knows no boundaries.”
And so, to my daughter Elizabeth and to my new son-in-law Andrew — along with the resounding joy of Andrew and Caroline, and Alice and Mathis, I wrote this column in honor of you, and your unwavering devotion to a love affair so dearly won.
And, as it with every great love story that begins with “once upon a time,” the perfect ending is required. It is then, with deep satisfaction — knowing I was right all along — and with my fervent blessing, I offer you both the best of all possible endings: “And they lived happily ever after.”
Westporter Judith Marks-White shares her humorous views monthly in the Westport News. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at judithmarks-white.com.