“Any last words?”: Turning 22 in France

“I think that if we run backwards, we can make time go in reverse,” Annika told me.

“Okay,” I said. “We have three minutes until midnight, so if we want to do this, we need to go now!”

With that, Annika and I got out of our chairs where we were in the back of a bar called La Belle Époque, and as I began climbing the stairs, I looked back and Annika had already started moving in-reverse.

We emerged from the back of the Belle Epoque, traversed the bar, and found ourselves standing beneath the awning. It was drizzling–nothing serious, but enough to make us hesitate. Regardless, we ran out from under cover into the middle of cobble-stoned Place Plumereau and began running, forwards to avoid slipping. We ran a lap. Looking at my watch, we still had another 40 seconds to go, so we made another round.

10 seconds before it was officially the next day, we started walking, and I turned to Annika and asked her, “Any last words? Is there anything that you would like to say before you’re officially 23 years old?”

“Thank you,” she replied. “Thank you for sharing your birthday with me.”

I had been invited to Annika’s birthday by my friend Andrew who was invited. In fact, I had only had tea with the two of them one time. When I arrived with Andrew, Annika was surrounded by all her friends, many Germans, some Italians, and some French, and she greeted me as if the celebration had been planned for my birthday and not hers.

It was extremely nice of her, and I was completely taken aback by all of it, especially her response to my question. It was so simple, yet sincere, and heartwarming. I don’t know if I have ever met someone so nice before.

Thank you, Annika. My 22nd birthday in France couldn’t have been any better.



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