All the sounds fade away as the doors close and suddenly I am apprehensive, unsure and excited all at once. The elevator is packed with people who have come from all over the world for this moment. No one speaks and in the silence I hear their steady breathing. But we are all too preoccupied to give much thought to each other. Because outside the windows of our tiny elevator is the city of Paris, sparkling in all directions as we ascend to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
As our elevator nears the end of its climb, the mood shifts. It’s strange how experiences can bring people together.
People begin to whisper excitedly to each other. One of the men standing in the back cracks a joke about his wife’s fear of heights. His wife hits his arm gently and smiles. Soft laughter fills the air. I meet the eyes of a lady standing behind my friends and we both share a smile. Everyone turns to look at the doors. Then we wait- holding our breath, reaching for hands to hold, hearts beating excitedly. As the doors open we exhale as one.
This is it. This is what we have dreamed about. This is what we saved years for. This is something we will hold onto forever. We surge forward, eyes locked on what is ahead. We are all in our own little worlds as we spill out onto the observation deck. I lose my friends in the crowd but I’m too focused on what is before me. It’s like being in a trance as I walk towards the railing and look out over the city. I’m almost afraid to blink- thinking it will all disapear if I look away for even a second. The wind dances through my hair and the cold bites through my jackets. I hardly notice.
Paris seems to have played a trick on me. This morning it was busy and hectic. The streets overflowed with noise and bustled with movement. But from 984 feet in the air, the Paris I knew this morning is gone. It is quiet except for the soft murmur of the people beside me. There are no horns honking. No people yelling. It’s peaceful. The roar of the city has died down as twilight settled in. It’s only a whisper now – soft and delicate.
The sky is dark and empty, no stars out tonight. Yet the city lights that stretch out beneath me have become constellations. Paris is a sky sparkling full of stars. It’s like the world has flipped. The stream of car lights and streetlights flow together and become the tail of a comet streaking through the darkness. The light that pours out of apartment windows and store fronts coalesce into the Milky Way. The haze that falls over the city reminds me of star dust. I envy the astronomer that gets to study this beautiful cosmic sky every night.
Paris shines rebelliously against the jet black sky tonight. The city refuses to be overcome by darkness. The whole city is sparkling and I finally understand why Paris is called the City of Lights.
This is the Paris that I will always remember. This is the Paris that will haunt me. The Paris that gave me the stars but put them just out of my reach.
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