This is where everything changed. At sunset, on a rooftop bar in Paris, the first night of our honeymoon. We were the only people in the place drinking whiskey; everyone else held drinks that matched the sky that night--an aperitif called the Aperol spritz. It sounded more like a dance than a drink. Later in the week, I developed quite an affinity for the bright orange libation.
We were surprised at how quickly we felt homesick in Paris. As a first time international traveler, I hadn't anticipated the loneliness that came with not speaking the language by which you're surrounded.
This loneliness prompted the choice of whiskey which prompted the conversation which changed everything.
A few blogs back I spoke about our decision to have a year of fun in a bigger city. Specific plans were put on hold to focus on the wedding, but other than that, we were full speed ahead to make the move this fall. We were excited to see where Ricky could go professionally, if I could successfully move my business to a larger city, and to meet new people we hoped would remain lifelong friends.
Then we saw a group of jovial people on our hotel rooftop in Paris. They seemed to be celebrating something. The gregarious gentleman in the straw fedora had command of the crowd, perhaps he accomplished something. Or maybe this was a welcome home party. He moved through his crew with confidence and ease, readily doling out hugs, laughs and kisses.
"They look like they're having a good time," I said, a bit wistfully.
"I bet people look at us with our friends at home like we're looking at them," Ricky observed.
We both got quiet for a bit, taking in the sun setting over our home for a week. We could see Sacre Coeur and got our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower from where we sat. The heft of the moment brought tears to my eyes.
"What if we didn't move?" I pierced our silence with my broken voice.
"I'm not sure that's a decision we should make on the first night of our honeymoon on a rooftop in Paris," my continually left-brained husband tightened the reins on the conversation.
Then he added, "I wonder if we're so determined to leave because we're afraid to stay, because we think we're supposed to leave."
We got quiet again. A burst of collective laughter drew my attention to the group of celebrating friends.
"I love our life in Morgantown. I kind of want to watch it grow, see what it can become, see what WE can build there," I touched Ricky's knee as I presented my case.
"I love it, too." Ricky swings from being a man of too many words to a man of too few, but I let it slide this time. We had a honeymoon to enjoy.
We didn't talk much more about the move while we were in Paris. In fact, we didn't talk much more about it at all until we were having dinner out weeks later at one of our favorite restaurants in Morgantown.
"We should probably make a decision," one of us, I can't remember who, said.
I cut to the chase and said, "We aren't moving, are we?"
"No, I don't believe we are," Ricky simply concurred.
And that was that. Our decision to stay. It took looking at our beautiful life in West Virginia from a rooftop in Paris to realize we already have everything we're searching for.
When she moved to West Virginia, a friend's mother told her, "bloom where you're planted, darling."
That's what we're doing. Ricky and I have big, beautiful dreams for ourselves, our family and our state, and we want to make them real HERE, where we are proud to say we were born and raised. We have skills and talents that we think West Virginia deserves to have here. We love our home state, and want to be small part of its bright future.
Happy West Virginia Day! We are so happy to be--and remain--West Virginians.