Many a morning while inching along the Sagtikos Parkway heading to work I have dreamily gazed past my steering wheel and wished I was somewhere else. Paris often comes to mind as a pretty good alternative, my wife and I happily strolling down the boulevard in search of a fresh basket of croissants and a café au lait.
Incredibly two years have gone by since Lori and I were in Paris in April 2017. As an Army brat I had been there before, but it was my wife’s first trip (I am still regularly reminded that I chose Disney World for our honeymoon).
It also didn’t help my husband point score that for many years my long-suffering much better-half had pleasantly smiled and waved goodbye as I headed out the door for yet another exotic Navy Reserve adventure while she stayed behind with the kids.
But this time it was going to be different. I was away on a yearlong deployment to East Africa (2016-17), when my command announced that it would be approving requests for “96-hour leave.” Well, I was in Nairobi, she was in Islip, and I figured what better half-way point for a four-day rendezvous than Paris.
It didn’t take much persuasion to get Lori on a plane out of Kennedy Airport. Before we knew it, we were actually there, walking up our long spiral staircase to a cozy little Airbnb apartment in Le Marais, one of Paris’ oldest neighborhoods, filled with quaint shops, cafes and narrow winding streets.
In preparation for the trip I had gone to a Kenyan shop (no Home Depots) and purchased two brass locks; I had read somewhere that it was a romantic “thing” for couples to attach a lock to one of the City of Lights' many bridges as sort of a promise to return. Well, for Paris I was going all out: lock on a bridge (check); picnic in a park; dinner on a riverboat; the cabaret (hey, I only had 96 hours).
It turned out, however, that every other tourist in Paris had the same idea; no bridge we crossed had room for a single lock. Finally, up on Montmartre, by the beautiful Sacré-Coeur basilica, we were walking down a stairway and I figured this was my last chance, so I clipped my lock to the railing. The rest of the trip was amazing, but before long Lori and I were saying our goodbyes again, me heading east and she west.
Two years, six months and a couple days ago later, I pulled into the driveway and my lovely wife met me at the door with an amazing smile. “Guess what we got in the mail today?” Lori asked.
“More bills,” I replied.
“No,” she said, “a postcard, from Paris!”
Apparently another hopeless romantic, a woman from Manhattan who happened to be walking down the same steps on Montmartre, spotted our lock. She read my note taped to its side: “I have been in love with you for 30 years. I will kiss you again in Paris in 30 more; Jim & Lori Singleton, Islip, NY.” She took pictures, designed an amazing postcard and found our address. Thanks to one thoughtful postcard, Paris and all its wonderful memories came flooding back one evening into a home in Islip.
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