Here I am, on the 2nd Floor observation deck of the Eiffel Tower. I'm not including the picture of Serena crying hysterically because she had wanted to go to the 3rd Floor (or "summit"), unable to even enjoy the delight of being so high above the prettiest city in the world, and I'm not including an image of Emme sitting on some stairs feeling sick. I'm also not including the picture, taken a few minutes after this one, of the girls eating slices of pizza at the cafeteria on the 2nd Floor - surprising only because it was one of their favorite meals of the whole trip. Instead, I'm going to just post this single photo of myself enjoying the 360 view of a sunset in one of my favorite cities. Not thinking about the 20 years it's been since I stood in the same spot or worrying about when I'll return. Just being there, memorizing the moment.
Since it was close to 10 at night (isn't it cool that the sun sets so late on summer nights in Paris?), we waited for the tower to "sparkle" at the top of the hour. When it's dark, hundreds of lights glimmer randomly on the exterior of the Eiffel Tower for about five minutes on the hour. As it glittered, we opted not to squish ourselves back into the elevators and instead walked the 300 or so steps down to the ground, bathing ourselves in the light of one of the world's most famous landmarks.
Back on the ground, Marlowe begged for a cheap illuminated Eiffel Tower. I'm so used to saying "no" when my kids ask for this sort of stuff that we were halfway to the taxi line before I really looked at her and realized that this could be the one thing to help her remember the moment. There were dozens of vendors prowling the base of the Tower with light-up Eiffel Towers and shooting glow-in-the-dark toys high into the air like airborne jellyfish that would flutter slowly to the ground. I stopped one of the vendors (they're interesting, too: many of them are of African descent who have immigrated to Paris to sell trinkets on top of small blankets or sheets that they lay onto the ground at various landmarks; when the police arrive, they gather up the corners of the blanket and take off with their wares as though they were just walking around) and bargained the price down a little. The glimmer of the mini tower and my daughter's face under the glow of the Eiffel Tower is one of those things that I don't think I could forget. I actually went back and bought another one for Emme (Nina didn't want one), hoping that this new "night light" will remind them, too.