I’m a sucker for a good story. I live for them. The tuna steak I’m currently eating is seasoned with herbs and salt I bought at an open-air market in Nice just over a week ago. I crushed them in the muddler I also bought there from an old man that spoke no English.
My house is filled with all sorts of trinkets like these. I’m wrapped in a tartan blanket I bought in Scotland. My wine rack is filled with bottles I’ve collected from around the world. I smile and smell my hands every time I wash them because my soap is made from the fresh lavender in the fields of Provence.
To the naked eye, my house probably appears to be a mismatched collection of knickknacks without a theme. But I don’t care, because they all tell a story.
When I sit down to write these blog posts, I typically am typing ferociously because the story is already in my brain well before I try to tell it. And while I have dozens of stories I could tell about my time in Paris, I won’t lie- I've had a hard time trying to think of the story I want to tell about Nice. I didn’t leave feeling like I learned a deep lesson. I didn’t have an “ah-ha!” moment that opened my eyes to something. I’ve looked back on the trip several times over the last week to see if there was something that I missed.
But through the process of looking for “my grand story” I realized that there were dozens of other stories. Sure, they aren’t milestones in my life that shook the earth. But they’re still stories worth telling.
For starters, Sarah is one of my very best friends, and we had never been to the beach together. But now I get to tell the story not just about our first beach trip, but that it was in Nice- the freaking French Riviera. How’s that for starters?
I get to tell the story about how we took the train to Monte Carlo and went vintage shopping. How she bought a Valentino coat and I bought a Burberry trench. How we looked at each other in disbelief and laughed on the train ride home that either of those items were in our bag and now belonged to us.
There’s the story about how we asked our cab driver to take us wherever he recommended once we landed at the airport. How he looked at us like we were crazy, because we literally had no plans and no idea where to go or what to see in Nice. How he literally dropped us off in the city center and we got lost in the streets with no agenda.
I get to tell the story about how we couldn’t find a Nikon store in Paris to save our life (the converter blew Sarah’s camera battery and she needed to buy a new one) but we found one at 1 in the morning on a side street in Nice because we were on a hunt for crepes and gelato and laughing too hard to be even close to tired.
I get to tell the story about how we chased down a cab at 4:30 in the morning in front of the Eiffel Tower to catch our flight to Nice, and then how we flew back to Paris still in our bathing suits the next day.
I get to tell the story about how the last time I went swimming this summer was in the Mediterranean Sea with a belly full of shrimp scampi and rose. How I danced in the water while Biebs was blasting in the background (Let’s all pause for a moment of silence to reflect on HOW GOOD “What Do You Mean?” is).
There’s the story of me peer pressuring Sarah to finish her shot of limoncello after lunch, the story of us drinking a bottle of wine on the beach and both falling asleep on the towels we bought the hour before, the story of us walking along the rugged coastline at sunset to find a spot to eat dinner-- of us chatting with a couple who was traveling the world and hearing all about their stories. And there are countless other moments I could go on and on about.
Nice didn’t change my life, but it made my life a better story. I’m guilty of wanting everything to be magical. I’m a dreamer, a hopeless romantic, and a believer that anything is possible. This year I’ve realized how much God is teaching me, and it brings me great joy to share those stories. But I don’t want to be so preoccupied looking for those grand moments and realizations that I miss these simple pleasures that are making my life more beautiful. Because those are still stories worth telling.
Sarah and I pray Ephesians 3:19 a ton: “that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness that comes from God.” I think that’s what Nice was for us. It wasn’t mountains moving or lessons learned. It wasn’t where we had our deep conversations about what God is doing in our lives. But I can say with complete confidence that in Nice, we lived life to the fullest- the fullness that only comes from the Lord. I’m so thankful for the random assortment of stories that were born there— that I get to add them to my prized collection. I’m thankful that I got to experience them with my best friend, and that we can laugh about them together for years to come. And I'm thankful that I get to share these moments with anyone else that's willing to listen. They're some of my favorite stories to tell already.