For our first wedding anniversary, we took a side trip to explore Paris during one of Ash's European music tours. Neither of us had been there before, and we had a fabulous time walking along the Sienne. We drank wine, ate good food and had lovely conversations with Parisians and other American tourists. We heard a friend of my husband's music playing in one of the restaurants we grabbed a small meal in. We wandered sometimes aimlessly, sometimes with purpose. We visited the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and sat having long conversations with strangers about politics and children and life. Everything about our little side trip was perfect. We fell in love with Paris.
A couple of years later, Ash had another European tour that included a show in Paris. I had to head to meet him on tour for a long weekend over the Thanksgiving holiday after he'd been gone for a few weeks because I had a job that wouldn't allow me to take my PTO. I met him in Amsterdam, and we traveled to Paris together.
We revisited the Louvre and some of our favorite areas from our first time in Paris. On the day of Ash's show, he had to spend time at the Venue with the show promoters and other musicians setting up, preparing for the show or whatever it is that musicians do together before a big gig.
I spent the day alone, walking through Paris. We had some gifts we wanted to get our mothers so I visited local shops and headed back to the Louvre museum shop for some extra gifts and souveniers.
Our plan for the show involved me getting ready on my own and Ash returning to our hotel to head to the venue with me. As I strolled down the street, day-dreaming of a time when Ash and I could move to France so he could tour more permanently, I picked out buildings with cute balconies and plants as potential future residences. I don't speak French, and suddenly I found myself surrounded by a large group of people that were shouting. I didn't know what they were saying, but I gathered they were angry. The group started moving towards a building and I couldn't move from the middle of the mob of people.
I panicked for a second. Why didn't I try to learn more French? I began to throw my elbows around and eventually moved through the crowd and resumed walking only far more briskly than I'd been before. I still found myself deeply in love with Paris.
By the time I headed back to the hotel, showered and got ready, I heard from Ash and much like most music related events something had changed and he wasn't going to make it back to join me before the show. I'd have to hop in a cab and head across town to meet him at the venue.
I headed downstairs and as my feet were about to leave the lobby, an employee of the hotel asked if I'd like them to call me a cab. I figured why not? So they called for a cab, and I waited a few minutes before I saw my ride arrive. When I first sat down I noticed the meter said almost €2 already. I didn't think much of it, and I gave the driver the address of the venue. He pulled out a huge map and said over and over that he needed more time to find it. As the cab started to drive away, I noticed the meter now read €12. I interrupted the conversation he was having on the phone.
"Why does the meter say 12 Euros?"
"I started the meter when the hotel called me. That's how it works."
"I understand, but I'm not paying for you spend 15 minutes looking on a map and talking on the phone."
At this point, he pulls me out of the cab and brings me to the front desk of our hotel. He screams about how I'm American, and a few American families in the lobby stared on in horror. I calmly told the hotel I wasn't willing to pay for him to look at a map because even after all that looking he wasn't sure he knew where the address I'd given him was located.
The incident ended in the cab driver leaving and me wandering the streets of Paris in shoes I'd never worn before with heels that were much too tall for cobblestone roads. I wandered until I found a cab stand because I realized I couldn't just hail a cab wherever I wanted. The new cab driver knew where I wanted to go immediately. We had a great conversation, and I spent the ride admiring how beautiful Paris looked at night.
Once inside the venue, it was spacious, and Ash took a few minutes to introduce me to some of the other musicians and friends of his that were there. One couple he introduced me to was a promoter and his partner. Ash had toured around with them over the last few weeks, and I had seen pictures and heard so many stories about how awesome they were. I immediately connected with the woman, Virginie. She was vivacious, warm and had an energy that you only sometimes see in person. Love flowed through her, and the love between the two of them radiated from their pores.
After that night, I kept in touch with Virginie aka VeeOne. When we'd get tagged in photos of her holding a heart or when they sent in a picture of themselves to be included as one of the interracial couples in Ash's video for Strange Kinda Love, we remembered France. We remembered how happy we were. We remembered how happy they were. We thought about love.
Virginie died last year, and I know her heart lives on through the love she shared with so many people. I'd love to take our kids to Paris so they could feel the love that's there. I'd love to remember and laugh and love again in Paris.