Crossroads: She Moved to Paris for Work—and Stayed for Love


Looking back at my life, it’s eminently clear that there was never a grand plan in play.

I was, however, certain of a few things that probably unwittingly guided my decisions as opportunities arose. I always wanted to be a journalist; I was definitely pro-marriage (even though the first time it didn’t work out as we had hoped); and my daughter was a planned pregnancy.

Then, several years later— post established/successful career, baby and divorce—along came a major fork in the road, requiring one of the most important decisions I had ever made.

A sort of fuzzy occasion presented itself—an interview with a New York Times editor who said he would make introductions and recommendations on my behalf to the editors at the International Herald Tribune in Paris, noting that he was relatively certain they would hire me.

At the time I had a perfectly good job in New York, an eight-year-old, a mother who was dependent upon me, and three very large dogs from the Bedford, New York, ASPCA. Really, would it be reasonable for me to even consider such a nebulous adventure when I had so many responsibilities?

Then I remembered one of my favorite French sayings: “It’s better to have regrets than remorse.” Never mind if some argue that it’s merely a game of semantics. I thought I wanted to live my life, as much as possible, without one day looking back thinking, “I wish I had . . .”

I decided that a compromise would be the best approach. We would move to France for two years. Andrea would learn to speak French, my mother would not be separated from us, it would be a phenomenal professional experience for me as well; as for the dogs, they would be happy wherever we lived. All of the above turned out to be true.

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They hired me on a contractual basis as its style editor, the Chicago Tribune tapped me to be its Paris correspondent, and the Knight Ridder newspaper group asked me to cover the Paris ready-to-wear collections. The freelance just kept pouring in. Then, thanks to Marian McEvoy—a friend from our Women Wear Daily days who was the editor of French Elle while it was still in Paris—decided to move back to New York and recommended me to succeed her. Things just kept getting better and better.

After six months, Andrea was speaking perfect French, my mother was settling in, and my career was in overdrive. Because of the dogs it was impossible to live in Paris, so I found a thatched roof cottage in the country west of the city. All was right with the world.

One evening, the English-speaking parents of one of Andrea’s new friends invited me to a dinner party, promising that there would be a guest who had recently moved to our village from Paris and spoke fluent English.

The guest was a stunningly attractive architect some 20 years older than I and, I learned later, a confirmed bachelor. The latter information didn’t interest me because I was on my two-year agendawhich I was convinced would take me back to New York and some glamorous job in the fun-filled world of fashion.

The confirmed bachelor asked everyone at the table for their telephone numbers because, he said, he planned to have a dinner chez lui and invite us, along with friends of his from Paris. I later learned he had no intention of throwing a party; it was a ploy to get my telephone number, which he used three days later to invite me to dinner. From that moment on, not a day passed that he didn’t call.

He was in a relationship when we met. He broke it off. He told me he loved me. I was falling in love with him. But nothing was going to keep me from my two-year program.

My mother loved him, my dogs didn’t particularly like his dog, our new French cat liked everyone, Andrea was ambivalent, and I was happy.

Then it appeared that I would be offered the job as editor of Elle when it moved to New York. I told him about the exciting news. He said, “That’s wonderful; would you take the job?”

I told him I would. He asked if there was anything that would keep me in France.

You see where I’m going here . . . a much wider and more complicated fork in the road appeared on the horizon.

He proposed. I didn’t hesitate. I had always loved the idea of love, but until I met Alexandre I didn’t understand what it could be. As he put it, “Love is simple, evident. I’ve been waiting for you. Being together makes everything better.” Indeed.

Now, nearly 30 years later, I often think back in wonder about that first fork in the road, the one that led to the major bifurcation that changed absolutely everything in all of our lives.

No plans. No remorse. No regrets. I’ve been lucky and I’m grateful every day.

For this story’s companion piece, see Susan Lapinsky’s “Crossroads: Nice Was Nice, but . . .” And read more about Tish Jett’s adventures in Paris and about her book Forever Chic.—Ed.


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  • D. A. Wolf May 13, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    What a glorious story. (How ever did I miss this just before Valentine’s?)

    Well, I’m delighted to read it three months later, and more convinced than ever that we must view our lives as an adventure, and go with the gut, especially when it’s in sync with the heart.


  • Trinjia Dell'Aglio May 13, 2015 at 11:17 am

    Such a great story! So brave of you to pull up roots and move, but such a wise thing to do as well. Very inspirational!! Thanks for sharing.

  • Andrea February 13, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    AMORE. How wonderful ! Thanks for sharing this beautiful story

  • Barbara Lilian February 12, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    I just loved reading how you came to France and fell in love. Stories like this make my heart flutter. I remember my daughter asking me how did I know I loved her Daddy, and what did falling in love feel like. I told her she would know when she met the right person. Looking forward to seeing your new updated blog. Enjoy your trip to Paris with Sharon.

  • Cynthia February 12, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    What a wonderful story of love and adventure. It gives me courage to jump head long into life.

  • Karena February 12, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Oh Tish this is a wonderful article and I could not be more thrilled for your love and your success!!

    The Arts by Karena

  • Lisa February 12, 2015 at 10:51 am

    So lovely, to find real love, the kind we hear about but wonder if it really exists.

  • Janice February 12, 2015 at 7:43 am

    Beautiful! Nobody believes in love as much as I do, and I’m always happy to see people that I really admire have the delightful adventure of falling, headlong…