The Salt

The Salt

The salt


“Love one another and you will be happy. It’s as simple and as difficult as that”
Michael Leunig

Ordinary people, extraordinary love.
It takes an extraordinary mix of courage, daring and optimism, to leave behind your country and all that you know in the pursuit of big love. Each week we recount tales of Franco-international couples who followed love across borders.

Welcome to our tales of Wild Love.

Chapter 1: 
Jo & Josselin 
Together since April 2015

We met in Chartres, in a steamy local dive bar called ‘La Rustic’. I’d spotted him in town, a few days earlier, a rare young face in a sea of middle-aged, cashmere-wearing bourgeois. Emboldened by cheap beer I confidently informed him that; “je t’ai vu dans ton vélo” (I saw you inside your bicycle). It was exhilarating. Our love was born in a series of drunken, magnetic encounters, contrasted with stilted, sober catch-ups in the cold light of day. It grew in stolen kisses between the frozen stalls of the Christmas market at 3am. In slow afternoons spent under the weeping willow tree along the river Eure, and sweet, confusing conversations in the dark corners of La Rustic. We’d professed our feelings to one other in many a hazy, evening encounter. But buoyed by the giddy sense of anonymity that comes from living abroad, I decided to write him an old school letter. 

He never wrote me back, but something changed between us and we became Jo & Jo. A few months later we moved to Paris. My family’s reaction was one stoic of bewilderment. They accepted my decision but they didn’t understand it. They couldn’t comprehend why I wanted to pursue something that was, in their eyes, so foreign and fraught with difficulties. My parents both immigrated to Australia in their twenties from Hong Kong. Whilst they admitted to understanding my desire to pursue the exotic, for them, Australia was the holy grail. How could I possibly want to leave?  It took me a long to time convince my parents it wasn’t anything they did or said, that made me want to leave the country that they had worked so hard to bring us up in. Rather, that it was thanks to them that I felt brave enough to embark on this crazy French adventure.

Homesickness is a slow, looping evolution. Unconsciously, day-to-day I think I repress the enormity of it... its weight gets lost in the daily rush. I’ll forget how much I miss people back home, then speaking with them, all of a sudden it rushes back and it leaves me feeling winded. In the early days, existing in the discomfort zone became my drug. But its highs were temporary and with every new hurdle, I began to long for home in all its comfort and familiarity. Today, ‘home’, for me, is wherever you choose it to be at that particular point in time- where you choose to make new memories, and not just live off those of the past. It’s not viable otherwise. This doesn’t preclude you from holding on, dearly, to your origins though…
My sense of national identity is something living and layered. I am essentially a mille-feuille (multi-layered French pastry), with the structural layers of the pâte feuilletée of my Australian upbringing, joined and held firmly together by the crème pâtissière, of both my Chinese heritage and French adoption. All in all, it’s deliciously messy and good for the soul…

It’s paradoxical, but it’s the things that I love most about France, that I also find the most infuriating. In France, the right of individual expression is held above all. It’s both vexing and endearing. Here, your right to protest is sacred. You can get up on your soapbox and advocate for your cause or for another’s, you can drink in public places, street art is abundant… Expression is the highest virtue and, for the most part, it’s not detrimental. This spirit however, also filters down into the realm of administration. The infamous bureaucratie. Processes are carried out, and protocols applied (in and of themselves quite rigid) according to individual interpretation. As such, two identical situations can have drastically different outcomes- yet both will be unquestionably correct, and accepted as such. It is delightfully perplexing.   

It has been a long, tough (at times, too tough) journey, but every part of it has been worth it. I reconcile any feelings of loss, by reminding myself of how lucky I am to have the freedom to voluntarily split my heart between two opposite ends of the earth.  Love is rarely the happily ever after neatly tied with a bow for us in movies. It’s all the messy, gritty, ugly moments you wrangle with. Love, is that despite it all, both of you, free to walk the other way if you so wish, choose to sift through the muck together.     


Our love story in a word:

 Binary (he is Jo-sun and I am Jo-moon)

‘Je t’aime’ or ‘I love you?’:

Je t’aime the very first time, now, I love you

Your advice to someone in your situation?    

Feet first, love. Jump in wholeheartedly, if that’s what your heart is telling you to do. It could crash and burn. It could be something wonderful…..