Waking at her student chic apartment – read: sofa-bed propped up by bricks– I looked out the window to see a plum view of the Eiffel Tower. We were in the 15th arrondissement (so it does exist!).
Going for coffee at a popular cafe in the morning, we passed an elaborate memorial commemorating the Jews killed in the Second World War. It had large soldiers in white stone.
We walked to the metro and said we’d contact each other. This required us to exchange details. Alas, my phone had been on 4% for an eternity and I now looked to see it was dead.
Therefore she took my number and vowed to ring: once I recharged the phone, I would have her number. Or so I thought.
An hour later, I dutifully plugged the phone in, only to realise – shock, horror! – there was no trace of a missed call. No problems, this being the Internet age, I’d just stalk her online and contact her electronically.
Well, yes problems. The main one being that I had only a vague idea of her name, based on a hazy memory of what I’d read on her letter box.
So, I’ll search on social media: the go-to place for Internet stalking. There’s a wealth of social media sites, but if you don’t know the name of who you’re looking for, the results are generally going to be poor.
There was nothing for it but to wait for a solution to present itself.
By Monday, no news.
Tuesday, usually the last day for call backs, no word either. I decided to take action.
On Wednesday, after a work meeting nearby, I checked Google maps to see the rough area she lived. Somewhere near the Eiffel Tower, 15 minutes from the café, and near that gaudy war memorial.
I hopped the metro to a station not far from the Eiffel Tower and hired a bike. Working in concentric circles, I spiralled inward until I found… the WWII memorial. I must be close!
Within minutes I found myself in front of her door, helpfully ajar. Walking into her lobby, I found her letter box – and surname – and left her a note.
That night in bed my phone pinged. I’d received a text message. It was her.
Brilliant! She’d received my letter!
“So, you got my letter!!!!” If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in communication, it’s that nothing screams understatement than exclamation marks.
“The one in your letter box…”
She fired back: “I gave you three days to call. Then my ego got the better of me and I thought I’d message you.”
We lined up to meet later that week.
During the Second World War, more than 13,000 Jews were rounded up in Paris by the Vichy regime and their collaborators (French included) and sent to death camps.
But thanks to that memorial, I now had a second date.