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Back in college, one of my Philosophy professors lectured wildly about love once. He asked the class if we believe in “love at first sight.” Everyone shrugged, puttered with their phones: no, not really.

“But what about coup de coeur,” a girl said, and even with my limited French I knew instantly what she means. A coup d’etat means “the sudden overthrowing of a state” and so I thought: “the sudden overthrowing of a heart.”

My professor asked if that wasn’t the same thing and she said “Well, not really, I don’t think so, I think they have distinct meanings. I am not sure if you can truly love someone without really knowing them but a coup de coeur,” and here she made a sort of gesture to indicate abruptness, or shock, “I think that really happens.” 

That reminded me of how once I watched a man walked out of the elevator and everyone else in the room went into soft focus and then fuzzed out and disappeared, and how I can keep replaying that moment in my memory like it’s on a film, and I decided she was right. I looked around and the entirety of the class was staring at her, and a couple of people were nodding, but everyone had sort of gazed over. Not the antsy, Twitter-checking inattention of earlier, but all of us in some other room or city or across stated or an ocean, seeing someone for the first time, all over again.