The First Love of My Life Was an Unexpected Surprise

Love is such a seemingly simple word yet an entirely complex concept. I wasn’t like most of the girls my age. By the time I was 13, much to my dismay love had swept through my middle school like an infectious disease. All my best friends were coupled up at lunch with bright eyes and young hearts, while I was still awkwardly figuring out who newly teenage me was.


One particular day in English class I remember asking my friend Katelyn, “How did you know when you loved your boyfriend?”  She replied, “You just know when the timing is right.” So, then I asked, “Well what does love feel like?” She replied again, “It feels amazing, you’re happy all the time and always full of butterflies.”


The cynic in me chuckled but the inner romantic in me was eager to experience that feeling.


Flash forward to my college years and I can proudly say that I’ve experienced my first love, but not in the way I expected. My love story began in the posh French town of Cannes. 


This town was everything I had imagined Europe would be like and I was in heaven.  While my trip there started off rocky, I had a little too much cheap French wine the night before, when my friends and I stepped off the train into the sunny spring day I was instantly enamored by the city’s beauty. 


I felt as if I was transported into a dreamy French boutique. The buildings were perfectly designed with pastel colors and precise ornate detailing and the cobblestone streets were filled with laughter and joy as the people dined at cafes.


My friends and I fell right into place, spending our day shopping at the many boutiques, hiking to the highest point of the city, and finally ending it on the beach with red wine in hand. When the sun started to set, we decided to be adventurous and have our picnic on these gigantic cube rocks at the pier. Once we settled down, I distinctly remember looking out to the rocky waves and feeling an overwhelming sense of serenity flush through my body. My stomach was heavy with butterflies, and I couldn’t shake the happiness I felt despite the aches and pains from the cheap wine I had the night before. It was in this moment, while my eyes were mesmerized by the purple, orange and red hues painted in the sky, that I knew what Katelyn meant.


At the age of 20, I had found my first love – travel.


One may think, “How can a city or a hobby be your first love?” I know it’s uncommon, but the definition of love is “an intense feeling of deep affection,” which in all my young adult years; no person had ever given me like Cannes had.  Don’t get me wrong, my love and appreciation for traveling does go deeper than just seeing pretty sights and drinking French wine.


I was the first in my family to not only travel so young, but to travel to places that my relatives could only dream about. My great, great aunt Elvira has always told me stories of our family’s history and I can still hear the emotion in her voice as she talked about the day Martin Luther King was assassinated or the disheartening stories about not being able to go to simple places like the community pool because of her color. I cherish these stories, because they remind me how hard my ancestors fought for me to live out my dreams and desires. 


So, if you need me, I’ll be chasing my first love all over the world.


Tell us about the first time you fell in love travel in the comments below!


Chantell Highsmith

Blog Contributor


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