I took a deep breath, filling my lungs with the clean foreign air a thousand miles away from everything I’d ever known. I looked out into the peaceful night, my eyes traveling over the tops of Parisian townhouses and the lit Eiffel Tower, illuminating the streets below. My mind soared out over the city, the crowded streets, the bustle of people, the smell of fresh baked bread, and the paintings sold on every street corner. There was adventure in this new place, awakening a kind of wanderlust I had yet to experience. I wanted to know what it was like to walk to the corner bakery every day to get baguettes, what it was like to walk under the Arc de Triomphe on my way to work, how it felt to swim in the fountains with the local children cooling off in the damp summer air.
At ten years old, a classmate asked me where I dreamed of going in the big wide world one day. Four years later, the answer to that question of childhood curiosity became the ground beneath my feet, the rooftops above me, and the hum of life in my ears; Paris.
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The next day, I stood at the base of the Eiffel Tower, marveling at its sheer height and beauty. A chilly wind whipped around me, causing goose bumps to cover my skin. The smell of crepes in the air was delicious and intoxicating, having experienced my first taste of one a few moments earlier. Vendors strolled about, holding out dozens of Eiffel Tower key chains dangling from long wooden sticks. I sat back and watched as they yelled out their prices in competition to the other merchants. “He has three for one euro? Mine are five for one euro!” On the outskirts of the plaza, there were a group of Arab women in long skirts and draping chunies, carrying what appeared to be post cards. I watched on as they talked to American tourists, trying to convince them that the postcards were from relatives needing money. The bustle and the happening s in just one spot of this extensive city fascinated me, like I had been given a glimpse of what the world looked like on the other side of world.
The rush of inner city Paris and all its inhabitants were such a change from my rural Indiana home life. I breathed in the life, the difference of it all. In my young life I had been searching for something beyond myself, something to inspire me and create a passion that I had yet to know. I turned and walked away from the plaza of the tower and strolled past nearby fountains. The local Parisian kids were splashing in the water, laughter ringing happiness in the air. As their parents looked on from picnic blankets sprawled on the surrounding grassy hills, I was hit by the simplistic beauty of it all. It was just another still July night in their lives, but for me, it was more than just another city in another place. It was the sense of adventure that washed over me, the relaxed atmosphere in the middle of the rushing city, and the life Paris seemed to breathe out of every surface. Years later, I am stilled inspired by Paris in its history and completely modern façade. That July night planted an everlasting wonder in my heart every time I looked up and saw the Eiffel Tower sparkling alone in a starry sky.
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