“-And before you stands a world treasure, an international landmark, recognized by almost anyone,” I overheard a tour guide recite to her band of faithful followers as she led them towards this towering structure. I stood at the base of this skeletal monster in silent disappointment. The sky only contributed to my sullen mood, reflecting a dreary grey color acting as the perfect camouflage to the brassy building. As if the scene wasn’t dismal enough, hordes of street vendors, crowded around, suffocating me with the air of cheap tourist trinkets.
I had imagined a much grander performance from the Eiffel Tower. It always appeared in my mind painted with the romantic imagery of fairytales, but instead of blue Parisian skies dotted with perfectly formed pearl white clouds, I saw a tarnished building zigzagged with multitudes of daunting metal steps, and nothing else. In spite of my broken illusion, I soon found myself in line with hundreds of buzzing tourists, all overly enthusiastic about the climb ahead of us.
After aimlessly staring off into space for what seemed like an eternity, I found myself at the head of the line. Handing the worker my ticket I passed through the swinging gate and began my assent. Step after step I climbed, my feet constantly banging against the cold steel steps, protesting every motion. Voices of different dialects blended together creating an inescapable lullaby that enhanced the monotony of the journey and my dreariness. Eventually, the lullabies became nothing more than distant whispers as my feet become idle- I had reached the top.
Surveying the world beneath my newly conquered peak was like seeing something in color for the very first time. Everything looked so different! The sun escaped its prison of clouds and illuminated the world below bringing the city to life with its rays of light. Cars crawled through the city’s cement veins and I could feel the metropolis breathe as people bustled about. From the ground everything had appeared lifeless and stale, yet from this apex I could see the tourists and venders all contributing to the symphony of Paris. How could I have missed this pulsating city while walking its streets? Before arriving at an answer, my mind asked, “what else have I missed?” What in life had I overlooked because I saw only grey skies and tarnished iron latticework instead of the possibility that lay beyond them?
My final imagines of the Eiffel Tower came the night we left Paris. With only the moon and a few dimly lit streetlights for an audience, the tower put on its show. At exactly eleven o’clock it erupted in an intricate dance of lights. With the black sky as its stage it revealed graceful movements that any dancer would envy. Then almost as soon as it had started it ended, and the humble tower resumed its ordinary look. I smiled at the tower knowing it had tricked me with our first encounter, I took it as a money sucking tourist trap, but how mislead I was.
I left Paris that night with a few cheap trinkets and a new perspective. I feel as if my trip has allowed for me to be more accepting to the world around me and not just take things as they are.
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