My friend and I stepped out of a foreign taxicab and amiss the dreary, but soothing intermittent rainfall, I found myself standing in a place that can only be felt when seen.
London to Paris, a somewhat short train ride, was the destination. My friend and I, desperately collecting and re-orienting ourselves, strolled out of the train station. Mind that fact it was at night, in a foreign country, with no phone service, with just backpacks, some luck and a map. I remember finally discovering our little French hotel (actually my friend did all the navigating), cutest thing I’ve ever seen. It was pushing 10 o’clock, and all we wanted was to go straight to the Eiffel Tower to see the light show. The concierge in broken English, took out an extremely touristy map and explained to us where to walk and how to find the Metro. Needless to say, the machines that spits out tickets for a metro ride was an epic fail. So we said, “Screw it!” and we tracked down the first taxi we saw.
I saw the tower in the distance, as we got closer, it weaved back and forth from my vision as buildings blocked its sight. I don’t even remember seeing any buildings that night for all my attention and excitement was for the tower. The taxi driver got us there in about 7 minutes flat, complimented our ‘cool’ American accents, and dropped us off. I opened my paisley pink umbrella and stood underneath it in awe, how I felt so small. Yes, that lattice iron tower was magnificent ( much larger than I realized) and almost more breathtaking under the slow drizzling rain that added to its ambience. But what struck me more than the tower itself, was the sheer fact of where I was standing.
Staying in London had the same effect on me, but exponentially less. Here in Paris, it wasn’t just another city or another landmark. It wasn’t just another field of grass and dirt soaked in the heavens cries. It was something more than myself; it was something diverse and stimulating.
Then, I pulled my phone out of my pocket, and I snapped my first picture. So what, the ground was muddy, and my new sneakers were pristine white! That didn’t stop me from walking in every direction around the tower. Out of everything swirling and living around me, I do remember one particular and vivid thought, “Take it all in, live in the moment, because in 24 hours you’ll be on that train heading back to London, so remember this”. That was the first time I ever took a mental picture in my head and that memory is more powerful than an digital copy.