1977: I plan a three-month trip to France for the summer. I’ll spend two weeks in Alès with a French family, four weeks in Paris at the Sorbonne, and I’ll travel. I ask Davidson for funds and for credit. I get both. As night falls on the last day of exams of my sophomore year, I board a Trailways bus for Washington–I can still see that dark North Carolina night, feel the bus window cold against my cheek. In DC, I take a taxi to the airport, fly to NY, and then to Paris. I have a Eurail Pass and a red-covered Let’s Go Europe. My first night in Paris, I stay across from Notre Dame at the Hotel Esmerelda, which still exists. It’s a tiny room–I have to move a chair to close the door–and the window won’t lock. There are no cell phones, but my parents have my itinerary. From time to time, I wait at the post office to call home. When my boyfriend decides to fly over to travel with me for a few weeks, I ask him to bring me another sweater. At the end of summer, I have a week at home before heading back to school for my junior year. Somewhere along the way, my mother tells me the good guys go fast. And I believe her. On the next to the last day of the year, I voluntarily give up my freedom for love. Part Two, I hardly knew you.

40 days to 60


Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver