Travels in Paris - My Family Travels


Shiny Golden Magic

Three things I miss the most about Paris:

1. Croissants
2. Naps at 4 o’clock in the afternoon
3. A sense of amazement.

The days are different in this country. Some may think this strange: After all, isn’t dirt just dirt? Aren’t trees and grass and sky the same everywhere? The answer is no, they are not. The trees now seem to whisper, “This is Paris.” The dirt declares “This, little girl, is Paris.” The very air seems saturated with the words, “Pairs, filla, Paris.” Everywhere I go, I am reminded that magic exists, that all I have to do to partake is to listen the trees. All I have to do to become part of the wonder is believe. And I do: I believe – believe in a city that speaks, believe in the magic.

Paris is golden, and the Eiffel tower is a diamond. She is resplendent, an omnipotent goddess, protecting all who see her. At night, she sparkles, lit up from within by her own radiance. As I climb, I admire her lights, her steel, her graffited beams. I wonder who her tatooers were, what thoughts they had as they climbed this colossal beauty. I wonder if, like me, they felt small and yet connected to the beating heart of the world by running their fingers over 100 year old steel. The babble of foreign tongues surrounds me, and that is almost as intriguing as the city sprawled out below.

Everywhere in Paris, there are words I don’t understand, but nevertheless, the feelings remain true. Sometimes words are not needed. I realize this when we’ve gotten inside the Louvre, and I see that this museum is busier than an airport. I realize that something must be drawing these thousands of people.

As I walk through the galleries, I realize what that “something” is.

It is empathy.

In the rich colors of centuries past, people see themselves. They see their hopes and fears painted before their very eyes. The sadness of the white clown, the confusion of Psyche, the triumph of the Winged Victory – we feel them as our own. There is one that stands out from the others. It is a picture of a boy, curled up on a cliff over the ocean. I cannot see his face, but I know his desolation. Even here, in the busiest museum of the busiest metropolis in the world, where thousands of eyes brush me every hour, I sometimes feel alone. I contemplate in silence.

But alas, one cannot go to Paris and linger in the Louvre contemplating a boy on a cliff. There is a certain pair of eyes one must see. I join the crowd and am moved along with very little effort on my part. I pass many other works of great art in my quest to see the most famous eyes in the world. And after being bumped, jostled, glared at, and nearly knocked unconscious by giant handbags, I see them. I, a sixteen year old American girl, am blessed by the sadhopeful gaze of Mona Lisa.

So, yes, trees are trees and dirt is dirt, but dirt in Paris is Wow. Most of all, Paris is shiny golden magic. By basking in its brilliance, my eyes were opened. I now see myself and the world in a whole new light: the golden light of Paris.

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1 Reply to “Travels in Paris”

  • RachelTaube

    I love that word, sadhopeful. Like a Joycian compound…I can tell you feel the empathy too! It’s true, Parisians just have a different way of life! MOntmartre is a great place to feel that empathy, or in the high turrets of Notre Dame.

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