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Wednesday, February 26, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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That’s Life: Paris vacation designed for two

We hadn’t planned on going away for our anniversary, even though it’s a major milestone. Before my next column runs, Curtis and I will hit the quarter-century mark of marriage. To be clear, this doesn’t mean we’re old. It means we were young.

Still, something about that number makes me feel older than I feel. We’ve been married more than half our lives. To top it off, our eldest turns 21 this week.

Between her birthday and Christmas, this season has so many celebrations that we usually opt for a low-key observance of the day we tied the knot. A hike in the woods, drinks at our favorite restaurant, or even take-out and a movie rental.

But then, I got some vacation time and suddenly we were searching the travel sites for an out-of-town anniversary excursion with little lead time. We quickly eliminated warm locales because they offered as much bang for the buck as a waterlogged sparkler.

After comparing packages for a couple of hours, we whittled the affordable options into several diverse domestic destinations and exercised the marital art of argument and agreement. They go hand-in-hand, like lovebirds.

But before booking our meet-in-the-middle vacation, we looked at last minute deals, discovering we could celebrate our silver in the city of light, city of love for less than most of the stateside trips.

“What do you think?” I asked Curtis, when I found the fare. “It’s a long way for a few days.”

“Let’s do it,” he replied.

Between work, activities and all the December festivities, we have little time to spend in anticipation or planning, so we turned to our friends for recommendations.

“If you were going to spend 3 days in Paris this month, what ONE thing would you do?” I asked on social media.

Curtis told his colleagues.

By the next day, we’d been lent books, given lists and offered enough itinerary options to fill a couple of months abroad. It’s a rare person who can limit their suggestions to one.

But after almost 25 years of marriage I’ve learned if you inhale every morsel of advice, you’ll feel full but unsatisfied. This applies to almost everything, from vacation planning to child rearing. A marriage is a micro-culture, made up along the way as you blend your lives together.

While we solicited and appreciate the recommendations we’ve received, we’re not bound by them. We’re only bound to each other. Our anniversary trip only needs to please two people.

So, we’ll sift all the good options and ideas, selecting only the ones that fit our days and desires. The rest we’ll set aside, for another trip or eternity. We plan to savor pieces of Paris, not consume it whole.

Most of these decisions will be made in the moment, through the marital art of argument and agreement, untethered from an itinerary and others’ expectations.

This includes the alert emailed by our State Department this week, keeping us informed about the “heightened risk of terrorist attacks throughout Europe” and encouraging us to be cautious and vigilant.

This will also be weighed, though not unduly. We live in an unsafe world, it’s true. While it would be foolhardy to ignore that fact, we wouldn’t be living if we let the possible bad keep us completely from the possible good.

So, if we opt to traipse between attractions like the tourists we are, we’ll enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and tastes as well as each other.

And if we wish to walk the sidewalks of the Seine for hours instead of gazing into the gaze of the Mona Lisa, we won’t have wasted an opportunity, we’ll have honored ourselves.

Jill Barville writes twice a month about families, life and everything else. She can be reached at

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