do you remember the sunset over the city, the counting of seconds and the drowsy metro ride home? Can you still close your eyes and smell the crisp air? If you try hard enough, we can be back up there on the hill overlooking the city as it slowly lays herself to sleep. We had been in love before, but that night we fell in love the second time.
However, before you there was an empty day and me without you.
The streets were grey and confusing and I lost my way. It wasn’t as it is in movies. The city was not full of romantic little shops but bars after bars, and I didn’t fancy a drink. I had been looking for a snack for hours when I finally found a place to have one. It was cold and I had left my gloves at the hotel – earlier that day I had been sweating through my coat as I dragged my bag across the city in attempt to locate the hotel. The coffee was bitter but the pastry tasted like home, and as I left, I told them au revoir. The girl behind the counter gave me a smile and au revoirei‘d me in return.
A little bit of food in my stomach gave me enough determination to push forward. It was already dark, and I had been planning to be back at the hotel before dark, but I was in the most wonderful city in the world, so why waste any time? I couldn’t feel my fingers and my feet were aching, the cold made me hazy, but I swam through the streets and towards the lighthouse that could guide my steps.
The first time I saw the tower close by I lingered to a stop without even noticing my feet had stopped walking. It was breathtaking. You see, when you witness a monument you have only seen in text books and post cards before, it becomes so much more than a tacky tourist attraction. It doesn’t matter that millions of people have laid their hands on those structures before, or gazed upon its impressive heights, or walked those stairs. All that matters is that it anchors you to the spot. Before you were lost but now you are found, and you are in Paris and you can only be sure because the Eiffel Tower is standing right before you.
I strolled past men in thick warm coats trying to sell flashing miniatures to the passer-bys. I strolled through the tiny Christmas market set before the tower, and I strolled through the loose crowd hanging around the entrances. I walked under the tower and as I did so, I gazed up and felt alive even though at the same time I was a ghost. This was as good as it could get. I saw everything and no one saw me, because I was alone in this marvellous city and I didn’t mind because that meant I was responsible to no man or woman, and I could melt into the air and be part of the city, become an outsider and just scoop up the stories the unknown crowd lay on my feet.
For the next two days we took in the city bit by bit, but the first night’s impression never left me. It made me look at everything through the eyes of a maid in love for the first time. Is this a love letter to you or the city? I couldn’t tell. Does it matter? I have enough love for the both of you, and it comes from nights when I get struck by a little bit of magic.