"I love Paris. You're in the capital of the world." Montmartre, Paris, France

"I love Paris. You're in the capital of the world." Montmartre, Paris, France

Sam Salhi in Montmartre, Paris, France

“After working as an Engineer for most of my life, I finally followed my dream to become an actor”. Montmartre, Paris France

COS: “Thanks for getting me set up with all of this”

“No problem! Enjoy Paris and let me know if you need anything. “

COS: “Thanks…What do you do besides manage this apartment?”

“Oh, I’m a comedian and actor.”

COS: “That is really cool man…so, you help manage this for a friend so you can follow your acting pursuits? How long have you been an actor?”

“About 13 years, I started when I was around 30".

COS: “You started acting at 30? That’s amazing! What did you do before?

I worked as an Engineer after University. I always wanted to act, so I figured I’d give it a go. I did and never looked back. So, here I am!

COS: “Okay, we have to talk…what’s your story man?”

Sam's Flat. Montmartre, Paris, France

Sam's Flat. Montmartre, Paris, France

I met Sam in Montmartre, Paris. He was managing a flat that I happened to rent through a German equivalent of Airbnb. I decided last minute to take a train from Cologne to Paris for the week. My German friend and I were online and booked the room at 11:00 PM, snagged some train tickets, and I was off to Paris the next morning. Thank goodness Mike was there online with me, as I speak ZERO German. But, I digress.

The train ride was amazing as per usual in Europe. I met people from four countries on the three-hour ride and had quite the conversation about international politics and the best places to visit in Paris.

I arrived and hopped in a Taxi. Again, my language skills were called into question. I also speak ZERO French. That’s 0 and 2 on my language score. I showed the taxi driver my phone which had the address of the flat prominently displayed as I suspected there was no way I’d be able to pronounce the street names, much less a complete address.

I arrived at the flat and was greeted by Sam. He had such a cool vibe and was just really nice and down to earth. After a handshake, we had a short chat about the contract and all the details were addressed. He asked me where I was from and what brought me to Paris. It was difficult to communicate as neither of us spoke the others language well. We sorted it out as best we could. Sam made a pile of brochures and re-ordered them such that his highest recommendations for me were at the top of the pile. He was such a nice dude and had an interesting “air” about him. So, as I often do when I meet someone interesting, I asked him “what’s your story man?”

Sam studied engineering at the École Polytechnique Universitaire de Lille in France, and went to work for the next 7 years as an Engineer. I was fascinated. In our culture, not too many people leave a career like engineering to start acting at that stage in their lives. Although working through the language barrier took a while, he explained to me that he worked hard after University and decided he wanted a different life. So, he started acting and in 1994, performed for the first time in an amateur theater. After three years of working on his craft and participating in local Theater, Sam decided it was time to go for it. He moved to Paris to begin his new career as an actor. The rest is history.

Since then, he has appeared in several Theater productions, films, television, and has done dubbing work for foreign films.

Needless to say, I was impressed. It takes guts to leave a career and just follow your passionate curiosity. What about security? What about a future? The answer from Sam… “Life is too important to ignore what you love and what you want to do. We must live it and enjoy it. Friends, family, and experiences are more important than anything.”

I agreed. After a handshake goodbye, I started my Paris adventure.

On the third day of my stay, a big storm was heading into the area. I had logged dozens of hours on the streets of Paris working on my street photography hobby. I’d seen Sacre-Couer, Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and logged a good 30 miles of walking the districts of Paris with my camera and an overloaded sense of wonder and excitement. What a place.

A little worn out and ready for a day of rest, I sent Sam an email. I figured I’m in Paris, it’s amazing here, I’m a photographer, he’s an actor, and…it’s going to rain so much there is no way in hell I’m going to be outside all day tomorrow. So, I offered to shoot some photos for him if he needed any for his book. He was so gracious with his suggestions and tour planning for me, it’s the least I could do. And, I wanted to hear more about this guy anyway. So, it seemed like a great idea to me.

Sam replied to my message and was all in on photos. He was thankful I’d even offered. Again, just a really cool, humble guy in general. He invited me to meet him and some friends for dinner. It was 9:15 PM. But, hey…”when in Rome”, err…ummm...I mean Paris, right?

I arrived at the restaurant a couple blocks from my flat. Sam and a group of people were sitting on the patio and there was an open seat for me. I was greeted by hugs and several people speaking the best English they could with their charming French accents adding to the vibe of the night.

After a couple bottles of table wine (which was incredible by the way) and some amazing food, I was informed that the group wanted to show me around Montmartre. It was VE day. I had never heard of it. Victory in Europe day is celebrated on a day in May to honor the countries involved in freeing Europe from WWII. The French celebrate it robustly. That’s the only way I can begin to describe the rest of the night.

Sam and his friends showed me so many places that I couldn’t remember the names of them if I had taken notes! And, as an American on VE day, I couldn’t pay for a drink to save my life. The people were just amazing. The bars and nightclubs were absolutely amazing. I’ll tell that story another time.

I arrived back at my apartment at 5:15 AM. Only 6 hours from our photo shoot plans. No, 5:15 AM is not a typo. Yes, it was one of the most memorable nights of my month long Europe trip and likely one of the most well deserved hangovers of my life.

I met Sam at his home to shoot photos. He remodeled an amazing place in a 15th century building. It was like something from a movie. Great style and décor with a vibe that matched the laid back yet sophisticated nature of its owner. He showed me some of his work and gave me a tour of this amazing building.

We had a few laughs and a couple cups of much needed coffee, shot a few photos and exchanged stories of our travels. I thanked Sam for the tour of Montmartre and headed back to the flat to pack for the train ride back to Cologne.

I told Sam he really inspired me as I was in my 40’s and starting this project because I was passionate about it and had no idea where it would go. I just loved what I was doing. His reply, “if you love doing this, you should do more of it”. I often wonder where in our journeys we forget the importance of pursuing our passionate curiosities and end up just sticking with the original “plan” or status quo. Passion is a fuel. Passion is a catalyst for growth and change. The dynamic of loving what you’re pursing increases your capacity to stick it out through thick and thin. If we stick with what’s placed in front of us, or the “low hanging fruit” of convention, we may miss out on an amazing journey. Joseph Campbell said, “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” Well said Mr. Campbell…well said.

Sam handed me a bottle of red wine and said, “thank you for the photos, enjoy the wine and the rest of your time in Paris.”

I took this advice.

 

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