I think I gave about ten personal introductions my first week in France. In each one I would explain where I’m from (So-Cal Represent!). I’d explain my professional pastry experience (ZILTCH!) And finally, I’d explain what I’m doing here (cue endless, nonsensical rant): Blah blah blah, I’ve wanted to pursue pastry my whole life….Blah, blah, blah; I really admire French chefs….Blah, blah, blah; the butter is supposed to be really good here. I suppose I just fed each room full of strangers a ton of bullshit.
In truth, there is really only one explanation why I’m here: Love.
Yeah, yeah I do love pastry and butter and everything French, but that’s not what I mean when I say love is what brought me here.
First off, I’m pushing 30. Most people my age are eager to buy houses, further their careers or have kids…and while all those things will come in time (I promise Mom!), I have had pastry on the brain for a while now. Studying in France, the mecca for pastry aficionados has been at the very top of my bucket list for years and the one person who was most aware of this was my husband.
Together, we’d chat this up over a glass of wine after particularly stressful days at work. I’d give every excuse under the sun as to why I shouldn’t do it: “It’s expensive” “What if I don’t get accepted?” “I can’t quit my job!” “I’m too old” “I can’t just leave you here working, while I go off to France for three months!” But my husband, the unrelenting optimist, would just shrug his shoulders and say “You should just do it.”
One day, several months after putting this idea off, he called me over to his desk. There, neatly folded, was my ENSP application filled out and ready to be signed. We exchanged grins and I gave my John Hancock.
When I received a joyous French phone call a few weeks later, he was right there next to me, cheering me on. He downloaded Duolingo on my phone and bought me a strong enough power adapter for my hair straightener (so very important!). He booked our flights and calmed all my pre-travel jitters. He wiped the tears from my cheeks on the day that I left and he told me how great I would be. “This is your dream,” he told me.
And he was right. Now I’m here living the sweet life of butter and sugar and flour; so very far away from my home and my husband. He’s still working nine to five to support this (rather expensive) dream of mine; yet each night when we call each other he’s still eager to hear all about the wonders of pate sucre and how horribly I burnt my caramel. “I’m so proud of you” he’ll always say.
So husband of mine, I know I can’t be there with you this Valentine’s Day; but every day, every hour I’m at this amazing place so far away- I’m grateful for the love that brought me here. When I roll out my dough, when I pipe my butter cream, when I pull those freshly baked tarts aux pommes out of the oven; I think of our love and your sacrifice. It makes the sweet life that much sweeter.
Je t’aime beaucoup mon amour!