The France Conundrum: Reflections on Young Love

The France Conundrum {}

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.

  • Courtney

    This post was written before all that. Fortunately or unfortunately, one of the perils of having a blog where you talk about your life is that it quickly becomes outdated. No sense in changing everything though because going through 400 entries would take forever.

    Sorry it took me so long to respond to your comment. This somehow ended up in spam :(

  • Erin

    Interesting essay. I also think of Rachel from Friends, having the huge opportunity to work for Louis Vuitton in Paris, and instead choosing to stay for Ross. So many of these decisions are less about “France or love” for me and instead more about “myself or us”. Sadly, I see women choose “us” over themselves most times. I’ve done it myself. And yes, things may work out in the end, but it does seem to be a cultural thing that we root for love rather than for the smart decision where a woman likely betters herself, but is alone.

    • Courtney Mirenzi

      I totally forgot about Rachel, but you’re right! Again, it’s like, just go to Paris, GIRL! GO! You just want to scream at the screen.

      That is an excellent point you made–it’s very “What I want” versus “What he (yes, usually a guy) wants.” And the guy is never supportive of the woman’s dreams. Apparently Us remains supreme and the individual suffers as a result. And how come the guy never chooses? It’s like, come on, cultural expectations! I think it goes back to what you mentioned, that women are expected to put “us” over “me.”

      I think it would be wonderful if we saw more stories of supportive partners who want their loved one to flourish. But I guess that would be more complicated.