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The Paris I knew was the most heterosexual city imaginable. It was a kind of forced indoctrination into boy-girl coupling, with people draped all over each other everywhere you went. I had no idea how to find a respectable lesbian community, or any kind of community for that matter. So, in spite of my horror of American crassness, I kept loneliness at bay by hanging out in cafes with other American students, making one coffee last an afternoon and smoking cheap Gauloises. It was a puzzle, how to make French friends.

I also dated men. It was distasteful, and unfair to both them and me. The first year I fell into a liaison with Jean-Pierre, a friend of my French hostess. He was much older and had a good job and enough money to take me to nice restaurants. I hated the sex, and I’m ashamed to admit that I stayed with Jean-Pierre because it was the only way I knew to experience Europe from the inside.

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