A Brief Recounting of Our Trip to France

I confess — I had to look up the meaning of evanescent, this week’s photography challenge. It means “soon passing out of sight, memory, or existence; quickly fading or disappearing.”

That’s describes my trip to France, I thought.

Life is already crowding out the moments I thought I would savor for a long time.

To hold onto the memories a little longer, I put together a two picture per day summary.

May 13 — Travel day

British Airways took very good care of us. At the urging of a friend, I upgraded both my father and my brother to each have a “Biz Bed”. Because we were traveling with someone who needed assistance (my father was in a wheelchair), we also got special treatment. I’m not exactly sure what all the little dots meant, but they were good. My brother and father got to eat in the British Airways lounge before the flight, while Bud and I had a quiet dinner in a little airport restaurant. 

It was pouring when we left Newark. This was my view out the window.

May 14 Arrive in France, make our way to Normandy

My sister and her husband met us at the airport.

When we finally arrived at Bayeux, we were tired and hungry. I had Croque Monsieur for the first time in my life at a little cafe a stone’s throw from our hotel.

May 15 Normandy

We loved everything about our hotel in Bayeux, the Villa Lara. This rabbit guarded the stairway door.

For our first day with our guide, he brought us to the Pegasus Bridge and the Canadian cemetery. Colin had so many stories to tell, but I think my favorite of all of them was here, of the bagpiper who played for the British troops.

May 16 Normandy

We had coffee every morning in a little sitting area off my sister’s room. I loved seeing the cathedral.

Among the places we visited this day was Sainte-Mère-Église where a paratrooper had gotten caught on the church steeple.

May 17 Normandy — then travel to Paris

The craters from the shelling at Omaha Beach were very impressive.

 

The view from a German bunker at Omaha Beach.

Then we drove to Paris.

May 18 Paris

We walked around Paris. Old and new stand side by side.

Dinner cruise on the Seine. The Eiffel Tower is pretty spectacular.

May 19 Paris

LaDuree — the macaroons are amazing.

Impressive art at the Petit Palais.

May 20 Travel day

The return trip. Waiting at the airport.

 

I’m easily amused. I thought “Salad Sauce” was funny. The flight home felt a thousand times longer — I looked for entertainment where I could find it.

May 21 Collapse

This was how we all felt the next day.

 

Anniversary

Today marks 35 years of marriage.

As Bud would say, “Holy Cow-ser!”

My sister asked at the beginning of the trip if there was anything special we wanted to do, I said, “Bud and I would like a dinner together, just the two of us.”

It happens so rarely. Still.

On our last night in Paris, we had that just-the-two-of-us time. We talked about asking the concierge to recommend a nice restaurant. We talked about riding on the top of a double-decker bus and touring Paris. In the end, however, we went for a walk.

If I had to pick a metaphor for my life, it would be a walk. One foot in front of the other, over and over and over — sometimes stopping to savor a moment, sometimes ducking and running as a storm blows through, but mostly just walking.

I’m so glad I have a companion for the walk.

If I had to choose a metaphor for Bud’s life, it would be a car. On one of our first dates, we went to see “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” The line was long to get in, and wound out along the sidewalk. As we stood outside trying to make get-to-know-you small talk, Bud started talking about a car. I can still hear him — “It wasn’t really a car — it was a work of art.” He described its leather seats and fancy wheels, and I had barely any idea what he was talking about.

For Bud, automobiles are a combination of utility and beauty. Bud embodies that combination — he is the hardest working person I know but he also pauses to appreciate beauty.

That night in Paris, Bud and I walked down the Champs-Elysées. We stopped at the Peugeot store — yes, there were car storefronts — and while I admired the beautiful ocean-y color of the car, he looked at the specs.

Then we continued walking down. Down, down, down — past the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais.

Earlier in the day we had walked there with my family and toured the fine arts museum in the Petit Palais. The Louvre seemed overwhelming to get to and tour with my father, but this museum was perfect for us.

As Bud and I continued our walk, we found a large event occupying the space between us and Les Invalides. They were preparing for the Paris ePrix, a Formula-1 type race using electric cars.

We walked down pit road. Clusters of people spoke with drivers and I wondered which of these was the Dale Earnhart Jr of eFormula. Bud studied the cars.

Years ago, as our metaphors clashed and life’s bumpy road put stresses on us, we went to see a counselor.

“You two approach life very differently,” she observed, “but you make it work.”

And we do. Both. Approach life differently AND make it work.

Because marriage IS a lot of work.

But walking or driving — it’s worth it.

35 years ago I could not have imagined being in Paris with Bud, but this walk through Paris, admiring the beauty of cars, was the perfect way for us was to celebrate our anniversary.

Then…

… and now