December 31st 2003, what better way to ring in the new year then in Paris France! Champagne bottles in hand, chugging, belching and celebrating while venturing through the streets, being careful not to get blasted by the heavy arsenal of fireworks that were being set off in every direction in Champ De Mars (the park surrounding the Eiffel Tower.)
Six days of beer,
snow, crepes, cafes, croissants, Versailles,
Notre Dame, the Louvre, and sex. Lots of sex because…no kids. I was on an adventure! Happy and carefree with the love of my life.
With the fifth night upon us, My boyfriend exclaimed, “this night has to be extra special, let’s have dinner on the Eiffel Tower!” This suggestion sounded AH-mazing to me, I mean, when were we ever going to be in Paris again? Reservations were made and we hopped on the subway to our unforgettable dinner.
*disclaimer- I’d like to note that being the young and inexperienced international traveler that I was, no outlet adapters were brought along for this vacation. This meant no hair dryer or flat-iron for my wavy, frizzy mane. I should also mention that I packed no elaborate, dress to impress clothing in my suitcase. The only solution for my hair were braids, and for my attire? Jeans. Not my first choice for this outing…not even my third.
We arrived at the base of the tower, confirmed our reservation and up the elevator we went. My boyfriend’s hands were incredibly clammy and his face was flushed. I assumed it was a fear of heights. The moment the elevator doors opened, we were in awe. Gorgeous ambiance and an unbelievable view of the iconic lights of Paris. We were promptly seated and served pink champagne. Sparkling, sweet, dry deliciousness. We spoke of our dreams and how fortunate we were to be in such a historic place all while holding hands across the table as we waited for our six course meal to begin.
American’s like their personal space. let me rephrase that, I like my personal space. The French apparently could care less about personal space. As our meal progressed, we became what I like to call “elbow to asshole” with other diners. Tables for two with just enough space to eat and sit still but it didn’t matter, we were eating inside the Eiffel Tower. The cigarette smoke wafting from virtually every table including the woman smoking just two feet from me hung thick in the air. Again, no matter, we were in love and the joy from the meal and the moment took precedence.
Before dessert arrived, my beau was holding my hand tightly from across the table, stroking the tops with his thumbs; something he hadn’t ever done before. I didn’t know if it was anxiety from claustrophobia or the pink champagne getting to him, but I was calm and continued to talk about how awesome the trip had been. As the waiter brought the dessert, in the quintessential gleaming sliver domed dishes, he placed one in front of each of us and proceeded to remove the lid on my boyfriend’s dish. This revealed a gorgeous and gooey apple tiramisu. I patiently waited for the man to remove my silver dome thingy…because I wanted that decadent layered perfection in my belly, but he did not. Just as my confusion was starting to set in, my lover scooted closer to my side and squeezed my hands. This was the moment that the waiter removed the lid to my dish to reveal a flawless, glossy, white box with a stunning pear-shaped diamond engagement ring in the center.
His hands and lips trembling, he began to speak. “I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. You make me a better person and you make me happy. Will you marry me?” I responded through tears, my voice cracking “yes! Oh my God yes! Of course!” I knew one day I would marry this man, but now it was official. In an instant, everyone in the restaurant became family. The entire room broke into applause. “Woo hoo,” and “Felicitations” (congratulations) echoed throughout. Complete strangers were venturing over to sneak a peek at my new semi permanent accessory. Grown men were patting my now fiancé on the back and delving out firm handshakes of happiness and approval. The woman to my left embraced me and kissed my cheek, all the while holding her cigarette inches from my face but I didn’t care. The energy in the room was incredible.
5,525 miles from home and it was just the two of us. There we were getting engaged and no one was around when it happened. No family or friends were present to celebrate in this memorable moment of our lives. Only complete strangers. Kind, supportive, and cheerful strangers in the unforgettable city of lights.
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