August 26, 2018. This day should have been a celebration. Our first year wedding anniversary. Like in almost every cliched romantic comedy, we decided to celebrate in the most romantic city in the world, Paris.
We woke up early and took the metro to Place du Trocadero. The goal was to get some epic pictures of the Eiffel Tower before the place became congested with tourists. The view was stunning and the look on Amara’s face melted my heart.
I’ve watched this clip a few times now and every time I see my wife’s joy, my heart skips a beat.
What happened next was truly a nightmare. Long story short we were the victims of theft. Our camera, my wife’s phone and her bag were stolen. Upon the realization of what had happened, her spirit totally shattered and the tears flowed relentlessly. This wasn’t sadness, this was despair and it almost broke me too. I told her that we had only lost material things that could be replaced. Of course I knew I was speaking the truth but in that moment I’m not sure I truly believed it.
Upon the realization of what had happened, her spirit totally shattered and the tears flowed relentlessly. This wasn’t sadness, this was despair and it almost broke me too.
The bag he stole was my wedding present to Amara. I had to save up for a while to get it. I even had friends run around Toronto to find it for me and we got it engraved with her new initials and our wedding date. Even if I buy another one, I can’t replace that bag. Amara bought the camera and lenses to help kickstart her blog Azarya Lifestyle and this one. We poured a lot of energy into editing pictures and video production. To have our primary tools taken away from us on our first big trip for the Escape Manual was so hard to take.
We ended up spending our anniversary at a police station.
Now that we’re back I can finally reflect on the experience and feel my own pain, I couldn’t then. Amara’s happiness is my objective in life and I tried everything to get her to smile and make the most of the epic trip that we planned together. The only way I could do that was to be super positive even if I didn’t want to be. The way I thought about it, if I let our despair grow I let him steal more than just memories and objects. I’d have let him steal my faith, which was unacceptable to me.
The way I thought about it, if I let our despair grow I let him steal more than just memories and objects.
But Paris didn’t make it easy. There are police and military personnel everywhere. There’s distrust in the air. The first thing the police asked us about the thief was: “Is he Arab?” That showed me a place struggling to deal with terrorism and inclusion.
All that said, I’m so proud of my wife. She picked herself up and the next day we went back to the scene of the crime and took the pictures we wanted to take. We toured Paris and delved into Parisian cuisine as we planned to. We didn’t do everything we planned to do but we made it work. We didn’t let this defeat us.
Paris is a beautiful city. There’s no denying that. It is also a romantic city. But the police said to us “There are too many thieves and we have no hope of finding your stuff.” You have to be careful in Paris. Watch your stuff! This isn’t exclusive to Paris, you have to be careful in any city. There are people who prey on those trying to live their best lives, trying to embrace the romantic allure of Paris. If you’re not careful they’ll take your dream and turn it into a nightmare like they did to us.
Don’t let them take your dream away from you.