This is the first story in a four-part series
about the 15th anniversary trip my
artist wife and I took to Paris.
There we stood; waiting in line at the Louvre. I had bought her an annual membership for our anniversary, in part, to avoid this.
Five minutes earlier we had passed through the member’s entrance at the Louvre. I had flashed my subsidiary membership card, and we breezed through the metal detector.
Once inside, however, we had to swing by la Société des Amis du Louvre (Friends of the Louvre Society).
The society’s reception office is tucked away across the giant main foyer from the main information desk.
As soon as we rounded the corner to enter the office, there it was… the line. A line we had to wait in. There was no way to avoid it.
* * *
Heading to Paris from our western Canadian suburb would be a difficult and long trip. It would be an 18-hour journey, including the drive to the airport, two flights, and an agonizing four-hour layover in between. It would also be an eight-hour timezone difference, which would wreak havoc on our circadian rhythms.
At this point, we had already flown to Montreal and painstakingly passed the time on our layover, which turned into a five-and-a-half hour layover due to a late-departing plane.
As we sat on our second flight 36,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, my artist wife tapped my right forearm from her window seat.
I paused the movie I was watching — “Ford v Ferrari” — and pulled out one of my earbuds.
As cool air blasted down on my face, I turned my head toward her. As I did so, she lowered her eyes a little bit.
“I forgot my Louvre membership at home,” she said.
I looked away briefly. It was at this moment that I noticed the paused scene on my movie. In that frozen frame, the main character’s car was fully engulfed in flames.
As I slowly digested the news my wife had just shared, I drew a parallel between the situation the race car driver found himself in and the situation my wife found herself in. Both sat stuck in a vehicle as the temperature turned up all around them.
In fact, I could feel the temperature turning up in my body as I contained my emotions.
We had flown about 5,000 km by this point halfway across the Atlantic Ocean and had spent at least 12 consecutive hours side-by-side.
“I feel terrible,” she continued.
I continued sitting silently in the middle seat of our row. Stunned. Disappointed. Exasperated. An overwhelming number of emotions percolated toward the surface.
“How?! You had one thing to remember,” I thought.
My thoughts raced. Some rational, most not.
What had felt like 15 minutes of thoughts racing through my mind was, in reality, about 10 seconds.
“There’s nothing we can do now. We’ll figure it out when we get there,” I finally said before shrugging my shoulders and turning back to my movie.
Then, in a merciful act, I put my earbuds back in and hit play to allow that race car driver out of the flames.
* * *
We had travelled over 7,000 km to Paris. And the membership could only be used at one spot in the entire world. We were there, but her membership was at home resting comfortably on our kitchen counter.
La Société des Amis du Louvre are the organization you purchase your annual membership through and we needed a replacement card.
So there we stood; waiting in line at the Louvre. I had bought her an annual membership for our anniversary, in part, to avoid this. That part had backfired.