I’m in love with this girl.

Don’t get freaky or weird.  She’s my daughter.  And I’m irretrievably, hopelessly, helplessly, lost in love with her.

outside her flat in Montmartre

She’s beautiful, but everyone’s kid is beautiful.  She’s smart.  Everyone’s kid is smart.  She’s ambitious, gifted, kind, generous, loving, spontaneous, and funny.  So is everyone else’s kid.

It just so happens that I am in love with this kid.

This girl, at age 20, packed a backpack (including her French/English dictionary and her hulahoops) and took off for a year in Paris.  Art major, French minor, University of Tennessee exchange program.  Her trip over in August incidentally included a week on the Midi canal with her very continental British squeeze and fellow college student, Sam.

Then her solo venture began.  Moving into her dorm and attending her classes, via Paris Metro, working out meals, money, communication, all independently.  There were calls home, Skyping for this generation,  but she was on her own in the City of Lights.

High priority was locating museums.  The Louvre.  (Corporate, too big, touristy, and overrated).  The Musee d’Orsay (impressionist’s dream).  The Quai du Branley (oh, mommy, it’s my favorite).

Then there was the food.  This girl is a dedicated vegetarian, moral, political, and nutritional (notwithstanding her trainer mother’s high-protein, low carb dogma).  She found markets and grocery stores, online sources for protein powder (a nod to her mom), local wine caves and tasting rooms, bakeries/patisseries – all she needed for surviving and thriving the big city.

a moment's reflection

And thrive she has.  I have just spent 3 days with this precious fruit of my loins, and it is food to my soul to say that she is as happy and as healthy as I could have hoped to have found her.  I see her in her 9 square meter apartment (no author’s embellishment), I see her ascending and descending her 6 flights of stairs several times a day, I see her interacting with merchants, tourists, Metro employees, street people, and I couldn’t be prouder.

She has embraced this opportunity to grow, learn, and develop with a fierce intensity.  She has immersed herself in the culture, the language, the lifestyle, and has done so with a spirit of adventure, and humor, and open-mindedness.

This was the one we worried about.  She comes from a family of physically adventuresome people.  She has athlete siblings, physically active parents, mainstream sports-minded competitors.  She has taken that heritage and developed it with her own twist into a performance-oriented sport of hula-hoop athleticism.  She has performed at Club Queen to the tune of, well, more euros than either her mom or dad make on an hourly basis.

Her “apartment” is a mess – a delicious, art-student, charcoal-paint-sketchbook-makeup-Metro-ticket-coffeepress-euro-pounds-dollars mess.  She has organic cilantro in the fridge and toxic cleaning chemicals on the shelf.  Bustiers, bras, and boyshorts on the shelf and flipflops on the floor.  You can see the Sacre-Couer from her window, and the balcony of a high-rise, uber-expensive apartment that she admitted she was jealous of.  She has art books, philosophy books, and journals on her bookstack, and Starbucks coffee in her grinder.

I love everything about this human.  I loved sleeping in her twin bunk with her for three nights, hearing her breathe, reaching over and rubbing her back and shoulder while she slept.  I loved her sense of humor when we youtubed funny videos that we cracked up over.  I loved having a tremendously significant moment with her at the bottom of a bottle of white wine about life and love.  I loved giggling with her in the catacombs when we got the security guard to break his own rules and take a flash picture of the two of us.  I loved that she cooked me a veggie burger after we chopped and diced and sauteed together.

Oh, the love of a parent for a child.  I would, without flinching, without hesitation, without thought, die for this person.  Her happiness, while only now indirectly related to me, is one of my ultimate goals.

For now, that goal is seen.  She is balanced, content, not without trials, but able to manage and find the moment as it presents itself to her.  She’s secure in her life’s philosophy, but still open to learning, growing, evolving, changing.

I’m in love with her.  I can’t get enough of her; I count each moment with her as joy.  Observing her journey is one the privileges of my life, and there are breathtaking seconds when I can’t believe I get to be her mother.

My precious girl, I could not be prouder of you.  Stay open, keep growing, don’t stop learning, trying, reaching.  You are spectacular.

My girl

Thanks for reading.