The story of the Eiffel Tower keychain

Eighteen years ago, in 2004, I was given a keychain with the Eiffel Tower on it.


I had come to Paris that year on a whim to attend a conference called "Living and Working in France," hosted by the inimitable Adrian Leeds.

I actually have no idea why I decided to attend except that somehow, I had joined Adrian's email list, and the conference sounded really fun. She was sort of my hero: an American who had moved to Paris ... and decided to stay permanently.

At that time, my husband and I had been dreaming of having an apartment in Paris "someday." We had visited Paris on our honeymoon in 1997 (I had been here before, but it was his first visit), and for some reason we couldn't explain, it just felt like the place we wanted to be.

So when I saw the title of the conference, I said to my husband, Jeff, "Should one of us go? Just to see what it's about?"

We both couldn't afford to go -- one of us had to stay behind and work. Our daughter was in high school and needed one parent around, too.

We decided that I would go.

So in June of 2004, I hopped on two (maybe even three!) planes to get to Paris from San Luis Obispo, California.

I remember the conference vividly: wonderful speakers, really helpful information, great food (of course).

Listening to everyone talk about Paris real estate, I had no idea how we could ever afford to buy an apartment in Paris. But I took it all in and wrote pages and pages of notes.

And at the end of the conference, Adrian gave each of us an Eiffel Tower keychain, and she said, "This is for the key to your Paris apartment."


I cherished that keychain and everything it represented. I kept it in a special place in my dresser drawer, and I would look at it often.

Sometimes when I'd go on walks in my neighborhood, enjoying the nearby creek and seeing beautiful hawks flying overhead, I'd listen to the music from the movie Amélie on my headphones and hold the Eiffel Tower keychain in my pocket.

And often when I took those walks, I cried. I thought, "Paris seems so far away from me. How will I ever get there?"

At that time, I was still in the throes of years of post-traumatic stress disorder-type thoughts/emotions. I spent a lot of time feeling like my life was out of my control because of the trauma I had been through in my 20s and 30s.

I was 43 years old, and most of the decisions I made were just trying to get from one day to the next.

So the idea of making such a big life change seemed impossible. Even though I liked where we were living, I wanted something more.

I needed something more.

Little did I know that the "how" would appear in the most unexpected way imaginable.

More next time ...

A photo of us from our honeymoon in 1997


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  • @Juventina Thank you so much for being here and for reading/commenting. I appreciate it.

  • Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing.


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