From France with Love: Patrick O’Brian

Patrick O'Brian

Until April 2010, I was an older or mature student at the University of Ottawa.  I had dropped out at least twice since finishing high school, dealing with health problems but mostly a lack of motivation.  After several years working at the bottom of the service industry (call centres, restaurant kitchens, etc.) I went back to school and finished my degree.  I was now in that large group of new graduates who struggle to find a meaningful job, except instead of being 21 I was 31 years old.

In the summer of 2009, I had met a great girl through some friends; the main problem was that she was French, with no intention of moving to Canada.  I visited her at Christmas time, and we hit it off. She even came to visit me for Easter, and insisted we go to Niagara Falls. After a couple of months of frustrating unemployment, I went to visit her one last time, and it was then she asked me to come to Paris to live with her.  If I was unemployed in Ottawa, why not be unemployed in Gay Paree?  The job market in Paris is much tougher than in Canada, but I hoped my bilingualism would help me get a leg up.

As soon as I got back to Ottawa, I found a job doing data entry and lifting engine parts for a truck repair shop. I spent the next three months in frantic anticipation, trying to get all of my documents in order before going. My leaving was also a great excuse to see all the friends I had not seen for awhile. I may have drunk more during my last month in Ottawa than I had for years. Ironically enough, whereas I had been bored and grumpy in Ottawa before, I now felt a real love for my town and my friends.