Bonjour,he said as we passed each other, shoulders grazing. 

I whipped my head around to see a man: tall, weathered, and with eyes like fire on me. Normally, I would've ignored an advance, faced the ground, and carried on with sightseeing—but he was different. 

During a month of blissful hedonism in Paris, I enjoyed the freedoms of being single, lavishing myself with flings and champagne by the bottle. I had bought a one-way ticket to France, intent on one thing only: to create memories that would follow me into my late twenties. Part of this process was to stay unencumbered, to be unattached to another person. Love was not in my plans, but lust, desire, and pleasure certainly were.

So when this handsome stranger with an unplaceable accent (which I incorrectly guessed was Italian) whispered a greeting to me on an ordinary Monday afternoon, my heart leapt like a bad romantic cliché. Knees weak, breath short, I searched for this stranger among a crowd of strangers at Notre Dame cathedral, but became concerned that he had already left. My strong reaction to this potential loss was startling—who was this man who had already, with one simple "bonjour," captured me?

Finally, my eyes landed on him and his on me. We had been searching for each other, so our faces betrayed relief that we hadn’t missed the opportunity to meet. When we began our introductions—and I realized he didn't even speak broken English—I decided that he’d be a fling, nothing more. Although there was a connection beyond what Id experienced before with a stranger, my mind was saying: fling, fling, fling, save yourself.

Je m'appelle Zoe,” I said, the lie sliding off my tongue too easily. 

Jardin du Luxembourg?” he responded, gesturing at the metro. In spite of myself, I said, “Oui.”

So we walked towards the metro entrance, en route to the Luxembourg Garden, me with my fake name and him with his determination to not let something as silly as a language barrier stop him from going on a first date.

I didn't expect that from Luxembourg, we’d go for coffee, make our way to the Eiffel Tower, and end up back at my apartment already in love. I didn't anticipate that the most unlikely person would turn out to be the one. Who would have guessed that commitment-phobic and relationship-averse me would fall in love with a man who couldn't speak English, and was from a country I had never heard of?

Two days into our new relationship, I knew I had to tell him the truth.

Two days into our new relationship, I knew I had to tell him the truth. 

It was becoming clear that this was not going to be a passing thing, that I had gone from very single to very much in love in an amount of time that seemed equals parts incredible and ridiculous. But I couldn’t tell him outright that I had lied about my name—not because I didn’t want to be direct, but because we didn't share a common language. Horrifyingly, I told him over Google Translate, typing the words in rudimentary English, while hoping that the translation would make sense.

When he finally understood, a look of heartbreaking disappointment took over his face. I felt sheepish, but sure that it wasn’t that big of a deal. He didn't agree with that assessment. He talked to me slowly in French, and I tried to understand his anger. He kept saying I wasn't serious, that I was playing with him, that he felt stupid I had lied to him. There was nothing I could say or do except apologize, try to ease his fears, and tell him I was serious about us.

He found my behavior morally questionable. Who could blame him? If I discovered two days into a budding relationship that I was falling for a man whose first words to me were lies, Id have a difficult time recovering—if at all.

But we did recover. His reaction, as surprising as it was, endeared him to me even more. I realized how deeply he respected truth, the honor of your word. It showed me who he really was, and I was embarrassed that it had shown him who I was, too.

From that moment on, we fell in the kind of love I previously thought didn't existthe kind that became an endless passion, a meditation on the way the heart wants what it damn well wants regardless of how you feel about it. We're married now, that silly name thing in the past, a little anecdote we bring up occasionally.

 And sometimes, we talk about how Zoe would be a great name for a daughter.