This is the third story in a four-part series
about the 15th anniversary trip my
artist wife and I took to Paris.
I’ve been married to an artist for 15 years. In that time I’ve learned that inspiration will strike anywhere, anytime.
Just because I’ve learned that lesson repeatedly doesn’t make it any less surprising when it happens.
And it happened — boy did it happen — the first time we visited the Eiffel Tower.
* * *
I rolled over in bed groggily smashing the nightstand beside me as I hunted for my phone. The alarm had blistered through my ears a few moments earlier and I desperately needed to shut it off.
It was 11 pm back home, but I was about to start the day; our first full day in Paris.
After finally managing to shut the alarm off, I fell out of bed and pulled myself to my feet.
Starting my usual morning routine in a completely foreign place, I began to think about what the first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower would be like. Everyone has seen photos of the wrought-iron lattice tower, but seeing it live, in-person for the first time should be an indescribable moment.
I stumbled into the washroom, showered, dried my hair, and brushed my teeth.
While I was waking up with my routine, my artist wife was waking up with hers. And, thank goodness, the hotel room was stocked with a coffee maker and coffee. Lots of coffee.
We took our time that first morning, enjoying the fresh morning air blowing through our fourth-floor windows above a narrow Paris sidestreet two blocks from the Arc de Triomphe.
As we exited our room, the door gently closed behind us, joining the other two closed doors on our floor. As we walked down the spiral staircase on the dated black carpet, our anticipation grew.
We stepped through the front door of the hotel into the sunshine and onto the narrow Paris sidewalk beside the one-way sidestreet.
Kitty corner to the hotel entrance were two e-scooters; our chariots for this midday trip across the Seine River.
We jumped aboard our valiant steeds and wound our way through the Paris streets. Passing bakeries, flower shops, and open-air markets, we traversed our way through bustling city streets to Pont de l’Alma. As we rounded the corner toward the bridge, off to the left, just down the Seine was the Eiffel Tower.
Our first glimpse of one of the world’s most iconic pieces of art. Yes, art. It was originally a temporary art installation.
As we crossed the bridge, the tower once again became hidden behind some Parisian buildings.
But we knew it was there. And we knew we were close.
After parking our e-scooters, we walked toward Champ de Mars, a large greenspace extending southeast from the base of the tower.
As the trees cleared into the opening of the trampled, green grass of the greenspace, the tower stood stoically to our right. All around us, people packed onto the grass.
Nonetheless, we stopped walking and took in the sight. The presence of the hundreds of people around us melted away. It was just us and the iconic tower for that moment.
Or so I thought.
When I turned around, my artist wife had disappeared.
Scanning the people-filled grass, I spotted her beelining toward a clearing in the sea of humanity.
Quickly, I chased her down, reaching her as she plunked herself down cross-legged.
“Uh oh,” I thought. “There goes our plans for the rest of the afternoon.”
I had seen this scene play out before. She was inspired.
Pulling out her sketchbook and pencil, she started a rough sketch of the tower.
Pulling out my phone, I dealt with her sudden inspiration the best way I knew how: I began re-planning my afternoon. The only question, however, was how long she would be parked on that grass.
I leaned down, gave her a kiss on the head and left. I’m still not sure if she even noticed.
But such is life — and vacations — when you’re married to an artist. You have to give them the space they need when they get inspired.