In 2011, Sophomore year in College, I realized I wanted to spend a year abroad. Unfortunately,time was not on my side (or so I thought at the time) so I settled for a summer program to study Italian in Florence.
That same summer, my cousin was to study in Paris, so I decided to head to Europe a month before my classes start to explore a bit and maybe score free accommodation at my cousin’s dorm in Paris. A week before leaving, I went to see my prosthetist, it was really hot and my prosthetic leg was not looking great. I needed a new cover if I wanted to rock shorts and mini skirts. Apparently, a prothetic cover-up takes two weeks and since I was pressed for time(mostly procrastinating) I was faced with the choice of wearing tights and long pants to cover not so great looking prosthetic leg or take out the old cover, exposing the metal leg. I had already bought short dresses so I didn’t have much of a choice. I knew it was going to be a tough summer with all the stares, comments and ridiculous questions. But most importantly I was afraid that no one would even approach me.
As I predicted, I had a hard time adjusting to my new look and wouldn’t go out without a friend or two to avoid unsolicited remarks. Although things were rough (emotionally)in New York, I kept myself busy preparing for my Euro Trip.
In Paris, I stayed at my cousin’s dorm at Cité Universitaire. One day as I was getting off the metro, a guy, Frédéric, approached me. I had on a short dress and a white blazer, he told me he was a photographer and if i didn’t mind would love to take some pictures. I took his card am promised to get in touch with him. I was set to leave France for Italy in a couple of days so we made plans to meet the next day.
First we went to a museum for a exhibition on fashion and fast cars then we had coffee. Frederic told me there was a beautiful garden and he wanted to take the pictures there. We went to Jardin de Luxembourg and as I was being photographed, a guard approached us only to inform us that taking pictures for professional purposes was not allowed, so we pretended we were a couple. The guard was amazed by my leg and proceeded to tell us stories of an amazing South African Runner who has 2 prosthetic legs (Oscar Pistorius, a Paralympian who later became my role model until he killed his girlfriend in 2013)
Frédéric and I remained friends and 3 years later, I met up with him and his girlfriend at a small Brazilian restaurant in New York City for a drink. We vowed not to wait more than three years for our next drink, Wherever he is now, I have a feeling I’ll see him soon.
Cheers to making friends abroad.
Check out Frédéric’s website- http://www.fbussiere.com/