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Magic in Unmet Expectations

It was our last night in Paris. My closest friend Karin and I had spent a week together exploring the city and we had saved the best for last. We had tickets to ride to the top floor of the Eiffel Tower at sunset.

La Tour Eiffel had been on the horizon all week long, and we had taken our fair share of funny pictures of it in small scale between our fingers as we explored the arrondissements. The excitement of experiencing panoramic views of Paris on our final night had been building all week.

We pretended to be as familiar as locals with the Métro system since we'd ridden it around the city for six days. It was a 30 minute ride with one change to make it to the Champs de Mars stop. Turning the heavy key to the door of our Airbnb apartment, we headed out, wearing summer dresses and jean jackets in anticipation of the selfies we planned to take.

After skipping through the turnstile, we hopped on the first train, then got off to wait patiently for the connecting train that would take us to the right stop. The electric sign told us precisely when the next train would arrive. 10 minutes, no problem! Then the sign changed. It would be another 10 minutes. "Okay, we will still make it." The sign changed again. Yet another 10 minutes. "Oh no. What should we do? Get an Uber? Hail a taxi?" It was a busy Saturday night. Would it be possible? "No let's just wait for the train," we agreed. "We'll run to the Tower if we have to." So we waited, and waited. The train never came.

I watched the time window on our ticket to the Tower lift pass by. We had missed it. Walking up the staircase to get above ground, I noted in the dusky light that the sky had turned gray. The mist began, rain was coming and I realized, we had forgotten our umbrellas.

We walked in silence in the direction of our Airbnb as the mist grew heavier, disappointed, and processing the unmet expectations of a grand final evening in Paris spent at the top of the Tower.

On the corner ahead, we spied a café, coming alive with locals escaping the rain. The waiters were busily lowering the plastic walls around the maroon colored awnings in anticipation of a downpour. Karin and I looked at each other, back at the café, then back at each other. There was one table left, let's run for it!

Five minutes later, we were sitting in the midst of local Parisians all ordering wine with baguettes and cheese plates to wait out the rain. The waiters lit candles and dimmed the chandeliers. The tune of a woman singing in French played through the speakers and mixed with the hum of the conversation around us.

We struck up conversations with a group of friendly Parisians at a neighboring table who didn't hide their curiosity with the Americans with wet hair. Upon hearing our tale of the no-show train they replied, "but of course, this is Paris!" to remind us that anything can happen in the City of Light.

Waiving their hands in the air, dismissing our misfortune, our new friends made a noble attempt to convince us the sunset would have been a disappointment because of the weather, and they reminded us that now we had a reason to return. As we drank more wine and shared stories between us, we found magic in that evening watching the rain pour down on the sidewalk just a few feet beyond our tiny bistro table.


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