By Robin Kaye
For those of you who haven’t been following the blog long, you probably don’t know that my husband is not the most romantic guy. Actually, I usually say he’s about as romantic as a stump, and really, what’s romantic about a stump? Nothing. Now don’t get me wrong, he has other great qualities—he’s a Domestic God after all, which in my book, counts for a lot. However, when it comes to the cards, flowers, chocolate, and gifts thing he’s so not into it. For Valentine’s Day this year, I received a kiss and an “I love you.” Although nice, it’s no big whoop since I get those the other 364 days of the year too. Still, there was one day in our twenty + years of marriage that he actually did something romantic. In fact six years later, I’m still pinching myself. Really. Though after such a huge success, I think he’s under the misconception that he’s still on the positive side of the romance-meter, and according to his calculations, is good for the next nine years.
At the time, our children were 11, 9, and 7 years old. My DG and I had never been away from them any longer than overnight–not at the same time at least. Well, that’s not exactly true, there was the time we moved across country and drove the moving van with our car and dog in tow—which I can attest is the least romantic thing imaginable.
My husband had a conference at Disney World and thought, since he already had a hotel room paid for, that I should come along and we could spend the evenings together. I called Nancy, my dear friend in Seattle, and asked if she would come stay with the kids for a week so Stephen and I could have a semi-vacation together. I sent her a ticket to Maryland, and she flew down a week before the conference so we could spend some time together and she could get to know the lay of the land so to speak.
The morning after Nancy arrived, Hurricane Ivan was heading toward Florida, and Stephen learned that the conference was canceled. He called to give me the bad news just as I was leaving for the gym. Needless to say, I didn’t take the news very well. I think my exact words were “I don’t care if we have to stay at a Motel 6, we are going somewhere.” He asked where I wanted to go, and being the smart-ass that I am, I said “Europe is lovely this time of year.” I hung up on Stephen, cutting off his raucous laughter…
I dragged my butt to the gym to meet with my trainer, who I not-so-affectionately called Nazi Kevin and spent my time doing dead-lifts, sweating, and cursing under my breath since I really hate sweating, when an announcement came over the loud speaker that I had a phone call. The normal heart attack ensued, after all, I was out of breath, sweating, my heart rate was already in the danger zone, and the only good excuse I knew should interrupt my half-hour of extremely expensive torture was that someone I knew must have dropped dead. Dread followed me up the steps on silly putty legs, where I was able to take the call in an office. I wiped the sweat from my brow, took a deep breath, and asked who died? Stephen said that no one had died, and quickly covered his ass by asking, “How does Paris sound?” After assuring me that it was in fact Paris, France, he was talking about, I told him that Paris sounded amazing. He asked “How does Paris sound leaving from Philadelphia airport at 7:00 this evening?” I told him it was doable. Definitely doable.
By this time, it was about 10 AM, and we had to leave the house by 3:00. I ran home, dragged my poor, jet-lagged friend, Nancy, out of bed, and proceeded to take her to all three of my children’s schools. I pulled them out of class, told them Mommy and Daddy loved them and we were leaving for Paris. I re-introduced them to Nancy, who they hadn’t seen her in over a year, and then took Nancy on a brief tour of the area pointing out the hospital, the kids’ doctor’s office, the veterinarian, and the grocery store. When we arrived back at the house at noon, I wrote all the notes she needed in case of emergency, packed for both my DG and myself, and Stephen and I were out the door by three.
We stayed at an amazing 4-star hotel in a beautiful section of Paris, right on St. Germain (just two blocks off the Sein.) We had no plans, the only thing I insisted we do was to go to the Museum D’Orsay—my favorite museum in the world. We did that and so much more. We walked through almost every neighborhood in Paris, and laughed our way through the Sex Museum, checked out Moulin Rouge, and climbed to the top of Basilique du Sacré-Coeur. And I’m not talking about just the steps, which were bad enough. I’m talking about the top of the dome through a dark and scary stairway —being married to a builder does have its downside.
We walked along the Champs-Elysees and stopped for espresso and gelato on the grand boulevard. Even though I despise crowded elevators, I showed my husband how much I adore him by going up two, count them two, very crowded elevators to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower to look down at the City of Love.
We ate at romantic cafés, walked through Pere Lachaise Cemetery on the only cloudy, drizzly day we had, and visited the graves of Oscar Wilde,
Marcel Proust, Édith Piaf, Théodore Géricault,
Isadora Duncan, and Sarah Bernhardt.
We took in the Louvre and did our best to cross every bridge over the Sein.
It was an amazing trip but by far the best thing about spending five glorious days in Paris, the City of Love, with my husband was that I remembered why I fell in love with him fifteen years before. I just hope it doesn’t take me another nine years before I can do it again.