We came across this famous site on our one free day before I left this grand city, for though the other days were perfect in their own way, we were all ready for a day dictated only by the whim of our wishes. It is Sunday and we are far from the only people taking off to escape into the older streets of Paris, where one must keep a wary eye, for the danger of getting lost in shadows of another time is close and tantalizing.
Despite I and my dad thoroughly enjoying the so “not tourist’s” atmosphere of our stay here we are excited to see the tall, magnificent architecture of Notre Dame, where my mind quickly thinks of the Disney movie that always left me with a hopeless urge to cry. But hopelessness has no place here, for all is strength and awe as we crane our necks to see every delicate detail, which I believe could never be perfectly possible, as the building is full of small, subtle secrets curves and creations. Oh how I wish I could have sat for hours just to look.
I take in a breath, the sun is shining so bright, so hot (well…for December, and for a girl from the frigid tundra of Michigan) I walk down the street in tall suede boots and am surrounded by people who make my heart feel oh so full. That’s my dad there, the scarf he has no idea how to wear tossed over his shoulder. He strides a few feet ahead, immersed in conversation with one of his business partners and good friend who is also our host, along with her husband who always seems ready to take us to the next great site, or to show us the next hidden treasure. And just ahead of me is their daughter, who reminds me that there our other teenagers who are bigger than just the world they inhabit, that I am not alone in the love of dance, words, and conversation, and ohhhlala does she have a good sense of fashion as well. Whatever may be the stereotype of the French…well perhaps it was founded somewhere, but from the moment I walked through the door these kind people have made me feel at home, and full of the excitement of new experiences, and new ways to grow. Whether they were teasing, laughing, explaining, or learning something new alongside me and my dad. This is a place, a group of people, I always wish to hold in my heart and visit again, and again, and again. Whether the visit is a dream, hard to hold, or the rock solid strength of future memories with ever the possibility to be made.
And now the river flows beneath us, my bag swings in my hand, grazing just slightly across the ground, my eyes and mind distracted by the blinding light surrounding and filling us. The sweet comfort of laughter tickling my ears, and the breath of an accordion kidnapping me and taking me back to far away times. Where young people dance in the street without a care, where women’s mysteries are undiscovered, and a man’s strength known, yet not constantly shown….. Ahh but then I see the motorbikes and cars zipping past, hear the buzz of cellphones chattering like angry birds (Ha, get it?) and my eyes are open. Here I am, in the 21st century.
Our hosts scoff, fondly, when they see this and I’m pretty sure I saw Fred actually wrinkle his nose. “Only for tourists.” They laugh and we watch as a couple ‘padlocks’ their love together and turns for a kiss that while, yes, so cheesy…. kind of sort of still melted my my own heart. So I crouch down by thousands of strangers hearts, wondering if they are still whole or if some have been broken or lost between the years, and… I think I wouldn’t mind being a silly tourist and turning the key in the lock of my heart, attaching it to my own special someone. A fragile hope of locking away the doubts and the distance, atop the bridge where I first experienced what love could look like in the city of blinding light. But love is not to be locked whether or not it is forever. So I’ll take a deep breath and do what I can…I will hope, I will dream, and I will be foolish, as all those in love are.
As she said “Funny faces are always better.”
There is time for everything here, whether it be with sophistication and poise or the wildness, accompanied so often by youth, and excitement we hope to never forget how to feel. After all, no matter what, I love sometimes best those times where I feel like I’m six years old again, with not a care in the world.
It was the kind of taste that leaves you wondering…how can someone not believe in a higher power? It glides onto the tongue with a lavish kiss, rich with flavor yet still cold as ice should be. We strolled, laughing with chattering teeth, the consequences of indulging our taste buds in place of our bodies heat. But I promise you, it was worth it. As was every dessert digested in those few days. And I can say, with out even the hint of lying, that I have no regrets of my time in Paris, except for…. when will I ever have time to see every bit of this city in my one lifetime?
“Oh, you look so beautiful in the city of blinding light.”-U2
And I felt so. Really. We say thank you when people compliment us, some of us laugh and pretend confidence oozes from our being…but then there our those moments, so genuine, when you don’t need someone to tell you, you don’t need to see it. Because you feel it.
And I did.
That day, staring up through the great construction that is the Eiffel Tower….I paused to think, not about whether my hair was perfect or if my mascara was clumping, but about how beautiful I felt inside. And I don’t think I have ever felt that exact way before. When lights twinkle in the eyes of the people around you, and you know you stand at a place so much bigger than yourself…that is when it’s easy to pause and soak it all in, to reflect such grandeur, such light, be it for minutes or decades.
Thank you Paris, thank you for expanding me, for letting me grow, for showing me the world that is so big. I forget sometimes, walled in my own caging mind every so often. And you have blessed me with a reminder I won’t soon forget, if ever. I’m ready now. I don’t know for what, but whatever comes I’m ready. I will open my mind, I will laugh, I will love. And I will be back soon to see you, City of blinding Light.