Arry leads me into the apartment, holding hands, fingers interlocked snugly, and gives me a soft sexy smile as he guides me into our new abode’s wide, high-ceiling hallway. I’m tired from our journey, drained, achy, and need a long soak in the tub from being on a commercial plane for hours, but we’re finally here. I can push off the heaviness of my body and bones and sink into our home with a huge sigh of relief. It’s finally happening. After weeks of hard work, stress, and panic to get us here before my new term starts. I’m drained and exhausted, yet tingly with anticipation.
Paris… our home for the next year.
Our little adventure while I go to school and take steps toward the dream I have in my sight. He’s moved heaven and earth to make sure this happened, and I couldn’t love him anymore for it if I tried. It’s our reality. It’s my future.
I glance around as he drops our flight bags on the floor with a gentle thud, both from one hand. They slump by his feet, practically sighing with the same relief of a tedious journey’s end, reflecting how we both look. We pre-packed and sent everything we wanted ahead of us and traveled light. All we have are two tiny bags, immense exhaustion from a long ass, an eight-hour flight from New York, and a desire to take it all in.
The flutter of excitement, the tingles at getting shown around for the first time since we bought this apartment, rise within me, stirring me from my travel fog. Peeking my attention as my lungs fill with renewed energy at seeing all the new and shiny for the first time.
We sent someone Arrick trusted to scope this place, a quick sale based on videos, pictures, and real estate inspector’s valuations. This is us seeing it fully decorated to our specifications, taking it in all its real glory, and seeing it in the flesh for the first time ever.
The grand entrance and ornate French moldings give me crazy excitement. It’s so quaint as you walk into the little half-closed entranceway, with its high ceilings, pale creamy walls, and highly polished wood floor the darkest color of mahogany brown. It’s reminiscent of a dream home in a romance movie set in a past era of Paris.
I can’t wait to see how it looks in its entirety now that our designer has made it ready for us to move into. Hours of showing her designs, ideas, and color palettes. Pouring over a million design brochures, Pinterest images, and endless sleepless nights while filling out mood boards for her. Furniture websites, soft furnishing samples, and art …
I blink as I take it all in, in one wide eye sweep as we turn into the open plan of our main living room and pause… Blink twice… blink again. My face is stilling as the visual turns me into a stony-faced statue of not impressed.
My face and heart drop spectacularly, like a lead weight, to my stomach as I take in the massive sitting room before me, and my mood completely shoots out of orbit. Excitement dead, happiness murdered, tears prickling because I am so damn tired, and this is not the sight I expected to see before me. This has the same effect as systematically being sucker punched in the stomach and head with great force.
It’s nothing like we agreed, or what we chose together, what we spent hours, days, and weeks picking and bickering about and giving to that overpriced, garish outfit-wearing, so-called designer. I can’t believe I endured her smarmy obvious flirting with Arrick endlessly for all this shit I now see before me.
I slide my hand out of his as I stop, rooted to my spot, temper simmering irrationally, and spin around with a frown that fast overtakes my face. Feeling like bashing him over the head with anything I have to hand and cannot stop the bubbling of a “Sophie overreaction” at something Arrick did to upset her.
Yes, I need to get that crap under control, but he is so damn infuriating sometimes.
This is pretty much a replica of Arry’s apartment before I moved in with him. Same neutral tones and a comfy casual vibe. Masculine, New York apartment in a French building, and nothing at all of the things I chose. He has eliminated the “Sophie” from the “Arry and Sophie” love pad. And I’m on the verge of sobbing my little broken heart out. I want to bawl in a “my boyfriend’s such a mean dickhead” kind of heartbreak. This apartment doesn’t feel like my welcoming new home, which I expected to embrace me with delight. Instead, it feels like a bachelor pad and a zone made just for Arry alone.
Where are my sparkly fairy lights, fluffy throws, and romantic scatter pillows? Where are my oversized lanterns filled with candles and cute things on the shelves? My choice of prints on the walls or even the couch I chose? Where are my goddamn silver Unicorn sculptures?
“What’s wrong?” Arry turns and appraises me, bewildered, and does a double take around the room as if he is looking for the thing that makes me unhappy. He is clearly blind to what’s missing and sees only something he obviously likes.
I’m pissed that he doesn’t see it at all. That he looks completely surprised that I would have this sort of reaction to the bland man pad laid out before us in all its minimal, stark, and unhomeliness glory. I’ve never seen grey look so boring.
“This isn’t what we chose?” I wave my hand around the room snappily, disappointment filling me up inside, and I know it’s such a dumb thing to get upset over, but this is supposed to be our first place together. Not just one I moved into and added my stamp.
This was ours. A half and half of us both. Our first real ‘let’s choose everything together from scratch’.
I spent nearly three weeks scrawling pictures of rooms and accessory catalogs to give to the stupid designer and bugging him at every opportunity with options. My cell and WhatsApp are jam-packed with the five thousand images I sent him at work daily and the ‘please kill me now and just choose whatever you want’ replies I got back from him. He kept telling me to go ahead and choose for us. He didn’t seem to care all that much and offered minimal input.
He clearly never fucking meant that, no matter how many times he sent it!
“Sure, it is… Pretty sure we told her to stick with the style of our New York place.” He glances around again innocently as he comes back to try and catch hold of me, but I slap his hand down with a satisfying thwack noise and walk off towards the low coffee table abruptly. Irritation is not good for me, and the last thing I can deal with when I’m pissed is him trying to get all smoochy and touchy and smooth it over without realizing what he’s even done.
He’s so goddamn dumb sometimes.
“We said similar… We picked stuff together! Furniture, décor pieces, a color scheme. Soft furnishings and art. None of that is here… Did you sign off on this shit?” I turn and flash him an angry look, gritting my teeth to curb the swell of stomach-aching disappointment, and his face drops slightly too. Finally registering how seething hurt I am by this.
I’m tired from a long flight and a stressful couple of months of cramming and packing in between all the studying I had to do to catch up with this school. They’re ahead of New York, and I had to spend my Christmas break doing homework more than celebrating. The only time off I even got was at his family party over Christmas; the rest was spent obsessing over getting our new home how we needed it to be.
I just wanted to walk in here and love it, feel like we were starting in a new love nest… but what I get is a slap in the face. An apartment replica of a time when I had no influence on the surroundings he existed in. A time when Arry was with another girl, and he had a whole future mapped out that didn’t include me. Where her shit taste and dull personality removed all the fun and sparkle from his existence, this somehow symbolizes a pre-Sophie time of Arrick’s love life.
“Baby?” Arry tries for another catch at my hand, and I move away prickly. Pushing some pebble display in a bowl away from the edge of a side table. It’s not even nice. I don’t even get what it’s for and don’t bother concealing the look of disgust at the tacky ornament from my face. I know I get more difficult when I’m tired, but Arry has no concept of the fact that you do not fuck with a woman’s interior design decisions!
“Don’t, baby, me… Is this what you want? It’s like you got her to repeat your other apartment and take everything that’s me out of it.” A tear hits my eye, and I feel stupid. I’m ruining our first moments in Paris with a dumb fight because I’ve just had my feelings stomped on massively. Arry glances around again and comes back to me, seeming a little somber, hand reaching out carefully as though approaching a wild beast ready to pounce. He has the grace to at least look wary and a bit guilty.
“Our apartment! … I didn’t ….”
I glare at him and don’t even let him finish
“Forget it. It doesn’t matter. I’m going to lie down.” My tone is deflated and, obviously, emotion torn. Even though it’s brimming under the surface, I don’t want to cry. I don’t want to fight. I want to get away from him and clear my brain; maybe after a nap, it won’t feel this huge of a deal. I move to the door, which I remember is the master bedroom from the floor plans, further down the hall, but he’s fast and in front of me first.
“That’s not what I did. She was showing me a bunch of designs and shit, and you were stressed already. I just okayed a color palette and said to make it like our home. I didn’t ask her to leave out anything you picked… I swear. I just asked her to tone down all the sparkly, fluffy unicorn stuff so you could add your own later.” He’s completely serious, giving me puppy eyes, and I shake my head at him angrily.
Tone down the Sophie?!?!?! What the actual ….
For the love of… Arghhhh
“What about the stuff I gave her? Things I wanted, things you agreed to? I GAVE HER THOSE! What about my feelings and choices, huh? What about the goddamn mood boards she made us fill up? And the items I bookmarked on websites! What the fuck was all that for? I spent weeks on those, weeks I should have been studying instead of doing crap I clearly never needed to.” I’m closer to tears now he’s stopping me, hating this dumb, stupid room as he slides his arms around me slowly, cautiously. He’s annoyingly calm and treading lightly, but it makes me madder.