France or your partner. It’s a recurring theme of young love on television. We all remember The Hill’s Lauren Conrad’s ill-fated choice of choosing Jason, her then boyfriend, over an internship in Paris. However, I was surprised to learn that the France Conundrum dates back to 1998 and the first season of Dawson’s Creek. America’s sweetheart Joey Potter is forced between spending a year in France or climbing into Dawson Leery’s window night after night. Like Lauren, she chooses Dawson over France.
France seems to be imprinted on our cultural consciousness as a turning point in our young adult lives. And by “our,” I mostly mean the cultural conscious of twenty-something females who rallied for LC over Heidi and preferred Joey to Jen. Somehow we related to these women, and yes, their choice to pick love over France. We grit our teeth while simultaneously yelling at the screen, “Choose Paris, Lauren!” Perhaps we connect with these women because they are reflection of our own experiences with love and life during the vulnerable period that is our early twenties. Or maybe we relate because we’d like to think we’d choose France over love.
When I was 22-years-old, I chose my then boyfriend, now husband, over spending the summer in Wyoming working at Yellowstone National Park. Reading that even now makes my heart hurt because, oh, the adventure! I chose to stay in South Carolina for love. While I’m glad I did, I do wonder about that lost Wyoming summer. I imagine long hikes, vast wilderness and the sky high Rocky mountains. It’s hard to say I regret the choice since I’ve driven across the country three times. My life hasn’t lacked adventure or choice.
While Joey is obviously a fictional character, it’s worth pointing out that LC finally made it to Paris and has probably been there countless times since. Though the choice between France and love might be a youthful misstep, perhaps the lesson here is that we all end up in France or some far off land on our own timeline.
Unedited image originally from The Brooklyn Museum, used under Creative Commons.