There are certainly worse ways to spend an evening than watching the sun set while sipping Champagne on top of the Eiffel Tower. It was the end of my first week in France and I was starting to understand.
It didn't really matter that we could barely breathe because the still-icy winds of Paris in the early spring were gusting as the sun went down. Or that I wanted to climb to the first level using the stairs and immediately aggravated an old track injury in my knee, which caused me to limp around for about 48 hours afterward. Things like that only make moments like this more vivid.
I think life has great episodes that are meant to fuel you through the worse ones and remind you that below everything, the mundanities and shitshows of normal life, there is actually meaning to be found. Sometimes the ones that are meant to be significant actually are. Sometimes famous things actually deserve to be.
There isn't much more ubiquitous than the Eiffel Tower, and being there, touching the metal – realizing it is in fact a tangible object and a lot bigger than your shared cultural memory had you expect – is like meeting Mickey Mouse and finding out he's an actual rodent who can talk. Your mind is too busy for questions or doubt, you just shuffle off to the side and buy the plastic mouse ears, kind of in awe at what you just witnessed.
And then: what's this, at the top here, outdoors, 900 feet over Paris? A champagne window? While the light show begins? Please, take all of my petty cash for two flutes of okay Champs. It's about proving it's possible, just diving into the moment from the high platform.
Paris is beautiful, but you know this. The Eiffel Tower is special, because it has always been shown to you as if you should afford it some reverence. It's easy to brush off until you're there, freezing, clinking around a metal observation platform with people from every corner of the earth, all happy, all finding validation that some things actually deserve to be a big deal.