It was Bastille Day weekend in Paris, and I had just finished watching the national parade on the Champs ElysÃ©es. My roommate from the study trip, Ashley, stood next to me with her hand shading her eyes. She was on her tippy toes trying to see over the crowd that had gathered outside of the metro station. The rain had finally subsided after two weeks of downpours, and I tied my aqua-green cardigan so that it hung around my neck and so my bare shoulders could get a touch of sun.
I had embarked on this six-week study trip to Paris through UCLA’s Travel Study program as a culmination of my French studies. I took French throughout high school but never thought I would actually make it to France. Needless to say, that summer of 2007 felt surreal. I was living a life-long dream.
After the parade, Ashley and I took pictures on the Seine and walked along the Paris Plage. The river sparkled like diamonds, the clearest I had seen it after all of the rainstorms. Instead of rain boots and dark jeans, I could finally wear one of the many airy summer dresses I had packed, accompanied by a pair of flowered flats and of course my trusty aqua-green cardigan.
When boarding the metro to our hotel, I placed my cardigan down on the seat so as not to ruin my white dress on the dirty public transport, and we bumped along on the noisy train until we arrived at our stop at Place d’Italie in the thirteenth arrondissement.
Tired and ready for a mid-morning nap, we stepped wearily off the car. I took one step before realizing my shoulders were bare, and turned in time to see the metro doors slam in my face. My cardigan was still lying on the metro seat. I panicked, knocking on the train’s window, and a middle-aged gentleman tried valiantly to open the train doors from the other side. The long drone of the departure bell sounded and the train left.
Two days later, I took the metro to the end of the line and went to the lost and found. There, I tried my best in French to describe my sweater to the clerk…”Euhh…une chemise. C’est verte et bleue.” The lady didn’t know whether I was talking about a blouse or a folder…in French “chemise” can mean both things. Finally she understood and went back to check. No luck.
I went back to Citadines that day sans the cardigan but still filled with excited anticipation for the rest of the weekend to come. I do recall that it was the best three days I had in Paris – three of the most poignant days of my life.
Though I don’t miss the cardigan so much anymore, I do miss the time in my life it represents. I do miss Paris and the feeling I had while walking along the sparkling Seine, an aqua-green cardigan wrapped around my confident, yet curious dÃ©colletage.
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