Our First Valentine’s Day In Paris


Believe it or not, the very first Valentine’s Day that Leon and I ever spent together was actually here in Paris. We’d only been dating for about three months at that point, but Leon had some work to do here in February of 2005, so he asked me to join him in Paris for two weeks over Valentine’s Day. I agreed with one condition. I made him PROMISE me that he would not ask me to marry him while we were here. I know that sounds crazy, but I was afraid we would both be swept up with the romance of Valentine’s Day in Paris, and I didn’t want us to rush into marriage before we were absolutely sure we were ready for that.

You see, I’m not a “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of girl at all. I’m much more of a plodder. Since Leon was used to my inner control freak at this point, he happily agreed to that condition. He promised me that he wouldn’t propose, and we flew here for the holiday.

The weather in Paris for the month of February can be cold, dark and very rainy. But for those of you who want to visit, rest assured that there is no time of year, nor any weather when this city is not romantic. It’s magical that way. When people are coming to Paris for the first time, they tend to worry that the weather will be bad and spoil their trip. My reply is always the same. “Rain or shine, Paris is still Paris.” There’s just something in the air that floats over everything, leaving a rose-colored haze of romance in its wake.

Given that it was February, we were especially lucky with the weather. It was sunny and gorgeous every single day — but one. You guessed it…Valentine’s Day was dark, dreary and achingly cold. There were so many black clouds in the sky, it felt like twilight even at noon. Not to be deterred, Leon came up with a plan for the day. We would visit the Arc de Triomphe and then wander down the Champs Élysées doing a little window shopping. (A Texas girl getting carte blanche to shop all day? The man is a genius.)

When we arrived, we just huddled there under the shelter of the Grand Arch for a while and thought about how great this trip had been. Each day was better than the one before. As the clouds grew darker, we started walking down that beautiful boulevard, just peeking in shop windows and enjoying the day. Suddenly, in the window of a little jewelry shop, I spotted a gold Eiffel Tower pendant and squealed like a little girl. I thought it would be a perfect gift for my mother. But seeing how excited I was, Leon changed my mind. “Nope,” he said. “This is going to be for you.” Then he led me into the store.

We chatted with the sweet man behind the counter, and Leon told him that he wanted to buy the pendant for me. Then the little guys eyes started to sparkle and he rummaged around until he found a beautiful, red leather jewelry box etched in gold. He placed the pendant inside and wrote out some sort of certificate. (I have no idea what that was about. It was all in French.) When we stepped back outside into the darkness of the afternoon, I giggled and said, “Show me! Show me!”

Now, hand to God, this is the absolute truth. As Leon brought up the box between us and opened it to show me the pendant, suddenly one of those dark clouds split apart, and a beam of sun burst through. It was like a spotlight about ten feet across — with us in the center of the circle. The timing was so surreal that we both just started laughing. Then Leon caught my eye, smiled and said, “I know I promised, but it ain’t getting more romantic than this. So always remember this is where I asked you, and this is when I asked you. And you can answer me anytime you like.” At that point I got all weepy.

But of course, my inner control freak kicked in. I must say, I came up with what I thought was a brilliant compromise at the tiime.

Me: “OK. We can be engaged for 24 hours. That way, we can have the big, romantic Valentine’s evening, but we aren’t committed to anything when we get home. What time is it?”

Leon: “Four o’clock.”

Me: “OK then, we are engaged for the next 24 hours. And tomorrow at 4 pm, it evaporates.”

Leon (laughing): “Whatever makes you happy, honey.”

Me: “I love you so much.”

Leon: “I love you, too.”

And then we went on with our lovely day. We had a beautiful dinner in a quaint, out of the way restaurant that actually had a live accordion player just like you see in old French movies. We walked arm in arm along the Seine, cuddling together to stay warm and stay close. Later, when we got back to our hotel room, we stood on our tiny balcony and stared out at the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower while we talked about life. It was a perfect day.

The next morning, Leon took me shopping at Galeries Lafayette in search of a ring suitable for a 24-hour engagement. We found one. I still have it and still love it. Anyway, as we were riding on the escalator, Leon looked at his watch and said to me, “Well, it’s 3 o’clock. In one more hour, you’ll be free. How does it feel?” I thought about it for a minute and said, “Hmm. Not as good as I thought it would.” And that’s when he fist pumped the air with both arms and shouted “YESSSS!!!” at the top of his lungs. I really do think that was the moment I knew I was all in.

We’ve had other Valentine’s Days, of course. And I’ll tell you about them some day, but this one is still my favorite. Because this was the one where even though I was afraid, I knew I couldn’t let him go. That was the moment when I found my faith…and my future.



11 thoughts on “Our First Valentine’s Day In Paris

  1. Yes, I’ve heard this story before, but it may be the single best proposal story EVER. I’m so happy you said yes to the trip…yes to the 24-hour engagement… and yes to the lifetime extension!!! You and your Leon were destined to be together and it inspires me to be around you both. You are what God had in mind when He said “two shall be joined as one.”

    Liked by 1 person

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