I kissed my hubby goodbye February 15th. He’s on a mission to intercept his father and SURPRISE him for his 75th birthday.The kicker?
His father’s in PARIS on a weekend trip with his girlfriend. And he doesn’t know his son’s about to surprise him.
My husband doubled up on work the past two weeks and for the month to come, banking on the fact that his father is as predictable as ever.
“Are you sure your father won’t change plans? Move hotels? Do something spontaneous—?” Like you? I thought, as I asked.
“He won’t change plans. Or hotels, I’m pretty sure.”
Even if he did, I still thought it might be worth the try. My husband had mentioned a number of times in recent years that given that we lived a continent away from his father he might only see him a handful of times more in his life. This is one of the underestimated hardships of the immigrant story.
I wanted to do what I could to make this surprise story happen.
So, I’m waiting, rooting my husband on from home, my virtual base camp from which I write and armchair-travel between trips.
It’s funny. We prefer adventure travel in wild places, over crowded European cities—even those in which we’ve lived. We’re not so much Francophiles as we are practical. What’s practical about Paris you might ask?
Charles de Gaulle Airport for one. The destination is easy to get to with frequent flier miles and puts us within a few train hours of my German husband’s family outside of Frankfurt.
So I hesitated to publish another post about Paris. But in reality this isn’t about Paris as it is about distance, expat romance, love of family and surprises.
See, I should have known what I was in for when I married a foreigner. We each had in our possession tattered and stamped-up passports when we met. Our first Christmas together, I left Alaska, he left Germany. We met in New York and traveled to Montreal.
But somehow after we moved to Europe and back and had children I felt left behind. I felt like it took years for me to get my traveler’s feet back under me and catch up with him again.
But I did. We did. Hauling our babies in car seats to the wild coast of Costa de Sauipe in Brazil, the flanks of the active Volcano de Arenal in Costa Rica, and holding hands with them as we climbed Mayan Ruins on the Guatemalan border to Belize.
But I remember reconnecting with my husband most in Paris. Paris, where ironically I’m sure my second-born was conceived. (No wonder she LOVES Paris!)
But for our first trip without kids, I had spent weeks with Mischa’s family in Germany. Kissed my then tween-agers goodbye, leaving them in the hands of the birthday grandfather mentioned above and boarded a train for Paris to meet my husband.
It felt like something out of a Dan Brown novel. My husband could not have timed our itineraries it better if he’d tried.
As I walked from the Metro toward our hotel, pulling my roll-aboard behind me, who emerged from the opposite direction on the street?
We embraced like secret lovers and sauntered toward our hotel, giddy with our accidental timing.
I hope he has as much luck meeting his father tonight.
The surprise will be worth it.
As I told him over the homemade dinner of anti-pasta I served on Valentine’s: “Your father only turns 75 once. Go. Go. Go. I’ve got things covered here.”
I can’t wait to hear about how surprised my father-in-law is to suddenly see his now-US-based son in Paris. I’m as excited for that Skype call as I was getting off the Metro back then.
Have you ever showed up from long distance to surprise someone? Or celebrate a birthday?
How was your surprise received? Or were you the home-support team for such a surprise adventure?
What thoughts went through your mind?