Lowered to the Floor - My Family Travels

The architecture of the buildings kept our heads tilted upwards; the city was beautiful with its history and design. Walking the streets of Paris, France was quite different from my small hometown in the United States. The glorious city had elegant streets lights placed strategically along the way, ancient clocks designed hundreds of years before hung over the roadways. Painters and artists lounged along the sidewalks displaying their work, street vendors sat with their memorabilia objects waiting to be purchased by the onlookers. The feel of the city allowed for us to be swept away into a dreamlike state at the awe that we were actually in one of the most impressive cities in the world. Amongst all the shops and little restaurants, there were bakeries on every corner and thousands of people walking the streets daily.


The beautiful scenery was changed, however, as the clouds kept the sun’s brilliant rays hidden away. There was something different about this particular street as we crossed the lines in the cement squares. The lines of people began to slow and curve around a certain spot on the sidewalk. Straining our necks to see what was going on in front of us, all we could see was that the people were clearly avoiding something that lie ahead.

As we approached, it was quiet amongst our family; all that was left was the quiet murmuring of a woman on the ground. Covered in head to toe with darkly hued clothes of purple and blues, she was bent at the knees lying on the ground with her head down to the floor. Arms out in front of her body, she was gripping a small white and discolored mug, and only a few coins sat in its cavity. Her dirty clothes covering only the top and middle of her arms revealed old, wrinkled hands and wrists. A cloth covered her head as well, but scraggly white and gray hair pieces hung out in disarray all around her face and neck. The sadness that this beggar woman had experienced in her life was clearly exuded by her ashamed appearance and stature.

Next to her sat a scraggly looking canine, lying down with his nozzle resting on its front legs and paws. The dog’s eyes followed the people passing by. The direction of our destination was halted, the people passing by, however, continued on their way just curving their paths around the beggar and her animal companion. They didn't look at her, not one glance was noted. The people kept their eyes forward acting as if there were nothing in their path. My uncle looked down in sadness; the quiet murmurings of the old lady seemed to become louder to our ears. We could not just be another few people that passed by with our heads turned the other way. Reaching into his pocket, my uncle walked towards the lady and placed some money in her mug. It would be enough for several meals, and the dog next to her lifted his head to look at us. Still murmuring with her head kept towards the ground, people continued to pass by and nothing had changed. We had one final look at the woman and continued forward.

Living in the States, I have seen many homeless people asking for anything to help them, however, this woman in France was different. She was hunched on the ground; her head was lowered to everything else around her. The state, in which she had placed herself, broke our hearts.

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