Friday, November 14, 2014
The sun, with all it's rosy colors, was just coming over the horizon as the plane descended into Paris. I was drinking in the morning rays of brightness as most everyone slammed their window shades shut, hoping for a few more moments of sleep. I was too excited to think of sleep. Anxiously I leaned forward and back, straining my eyes to see through any remaining open windows. A quick glance around revealed a crowd of passengers that regarded this glorious morning arrival in Paris as calmly as one might wait for toast to pop from the toaster. I settled in to enjoy my excitement solo. Smugly I decided I would enjoy it on their behalf. It felt very much like taking a delicious dessert off someone's hands. "Oh, you don't want it? Here! Let me take that off your hands. All the more for me!"
When I caught my first sight of the Eiffel Tower from the air, bathed in purple sunrise splendor, my excitement knew no bounds!
Paris: a classy city of dichotomies. My eyes were enthralled with the lovely architecture, flowering window boxes and cozy cafe's. My nose was assaulted with the occasional stench that inevitably plagues big cities. My ears were drawn to the soul moving resonance of Notre Dame's bells pealing out the hour. My body was often surrounded by the press of humanity that flocks to this City of Lights. Though braced for rudeness, I continually stumbled upon a deep kindness in local Parisians that astonished me. At the end of the day, when I summed up her pro's and con's, Paris still shone with a charm and beauty that was undeniable. Every garden begged to be explored. Every bench practically asked to be sat on. Every bakery enticed with thoughts of fresh bread.
At each and every turn, during my exploration of Paris, I was carrying on a lively inner conversation of discovery.
"A bridge! I've always wanted to see the bridges of Paris!"
"O look! A castle! No that's not a castle...it's just a beautiful building that looks like a castle, like ALL the beautiful buildings in this city!"
"Dodge the asian tour group."
"Wonder if I can see the Eiffel Tower from here?"
"I'd sure like a crepe..."
... so on and so forth.
Some of my thoughts were less touristy and more filled with profound contemplations. Often, while silently riding the metro I wondered at the fact that all the people around me were carrying on their own inner dialogue, yet in a different language. What might their thoughts sound like to me? What might my thoughts sound like to them?
Because of it's fame as a place to vacation, Paris is a melting pot of cultures like none I've ever experienced. An afternoon of simply watching people would be exceedingly fascinating.
There is something freeing and spectacular about seeing a city from up high. The Eiffel Tour is striking and iconic, yes. But let me say, the view from it is far more striking and lovely! I was sore for days after tackling it's many many steps, but the memory was priceless. The weather that day had been positively miserable. Cold. Umbrella destroying winds. Driving rain. We were just about to call it quits when the sky cleared and revealed an evening of balmy breezes and a freshly washed, blue sky. It was perfect!
When I was 15 years old I distinctly remember dreaming about the Louvre Museum. I took every virtual tour online I could find, willing myself into the scene with my powerful imagination. Walking it's halls was surreal and awe-inspiring. The masterpieces of people long gone are still there, inspiring the masses of people that pass through every day. If a legacy of art could make such an impact, how much more powerful the legacy of a life of faith? Deep thought.
We took a reprieve from the bustle of Paris. Out of all my time in France, this day will forever stand out. After the noise and crushing masses of Parisian streets, the unbroken stillness of the french countryside was a taste of heaven. Without another person in sight, we wandered the gardens of the Chateau. The chestnut trees were blooming. It started to mist a light rain. The air smelled fresh and ethereal. I kept breathing in as deeply as I could, eyes closed, trying to imprint the smell and moment into memory. It's still there. I think it always will be.