|Photo by Paul Ferney|
I'm sure I was looking for reasons to be happy to be alone, because I was walking in PARIS: The romance capital of the world. I'm sure there were people kissing all around me, but I didn't see them. Not when I was so happy by myself! Eventually I got the d'Orsay and found my favorite artwork. I stayed an hour and then decided to go to the Eiffel Tower. It was my last day in Paris, and I still hadn't taken the elevator to the top. On my way, I stopped in a clothing store because I liked the bathing suit in the window.
I walked for a while until I finally made it to the tower. As I waited in line for tickets to the top, I noticed the family in front of me. A mom, dad, and two daughters. The girls were around 6 and 8 years old. American. The older girl was looking all the way to the top of the tower. It really is quit tall. Taller than the pictures make it look. And that's when she did what kids do best: cry. Here it goes, I thought. A meltdown. A classic case of parents dragging their kids around to too many events on vacation and wearing their kids out. I've been there! I was still on my
The parents of the crying girl waved me past so they wouldn't hold up the line as they figured out their plans. The younger sister was fine, so perhaps a debate was going whether to split up? Have one parent stay on the ground with the crier, while the other goes up with the happy child? I've been there too! But not today! I bought my ticket and turned around to see them still working things out.
That's when things changed for me. The mom was so nice to the crier, saying all the right things like, "It's ok, We can view it from here." And the dad too, "We didn't know you were scared. We don't have to go to the top." And the cryer, "Really? I thought you were going to be mad at me!" In that brief thoughtful moment, I saw them doing all the classic messy emotions that come with being with a family: Comfort. Guilt. Honesty. Love.
I am all to aware of being with a family or group can slow things down or make it impossible to do things. For this family, it wasn't going up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, one of the quintessential things to do in Paris. Surprisingly for me, when I finally got to the top, it wasn't that great. The elevator was cramped solid with tourist. The viewing area was just as crowded. The line for the second elevator to go to the tippy top was so long that I didn't even bother to wait. After taking a quick view of the city, I found myself wanting to get back on the ground. And as I was squeezed onto the elevator going down, I realized that family didn't miss out on anything and that they actually benefited from staying together on the ground. I hope they got an ice cream and took a ride on the carousel. That's what I'll do when I bring my family to Paris, I thought.
And as I started to make plans for my next trip to Paris, this time with my family, I knew I was ready to go home to be with Rob and Ella and even those sloppy, crying, ghostbuster loving twins. I missed them.