The traffic uproar from the once bustling rue Rivoli –
has scattered down to such a level I can hear the sounds of pedestrians talking away. August is the month when all Parisians leave on holiday and the city becomes home to a much smaller population: tourists.
Everyone is going to the Jardin des Tulieries because there’s a Fête Foraine (a fair) with a ferris wheel, rides and all the bells and whistles of automated games. At the same time, there’s a peaceful calm that’s setting on the last days of summer at the park. A sluggish tempo of nature when even the tiniest buzzing of bees catches your attention in what is mostly a quiet, uneventful day.
I nonchalantly give into the childish pleasure of riding a swing and buckle into a hanging pink chair.
It rides blissfully through the slow wind, and I can see the blue rooftops of the city, each tiny balcony with flower pots, the jaunty blue skies that make my eyes squint and the Eiffel looking like a postcard. As a writer, I’m often in search of “ah-ha” moments like these when you discover something – or rediscover, which is rather more sensory because of the nostalgia of a recovered feeling.
Watching from a distance the green lawns of the gardens and the Louvre, I recall how it felt a few years back when I walked through Paris for the first time. I had arrived by train and dreaded to look outside my window fearing that Paris would not meet my expectations. I thought if Paris was not to be how it had always been described in all the books there would be no hope for a heaven on earth.
But there they were, the Parisians dressed in black drinking coffee on the terrace speaking French on an avenue that looked like a photo in my book. There were the museums with paintings I had learned about, and the trees by the river as if painted by Van Gogh.
I passed by polite French children wearing shiny red shoes and the sound of darling French accents floating to my ears.
I caught the sight of a couple touching and kissing with tender affection like they only do in films.
Thereafter I crossed the bridges with the love locks, and the shimmering river, experienced the smell of baguettes, and I walked for miles securing the beauty of a dream that became my reality. I was living for the first time the words of Hemingway, “If you are lucky enough to live in Paris when you are young…”
Sometimes we experience an exploding happiness when achieving a dream we’ve chased so violently, other times we end up unearthing a slow sense of joy that derives from gratitude. It was a day in August with blue summer skies that I fell in love with Paris, and it looked just like today. I am watching the rooftops in slow motion, and I am reminded that indeed it is lucky to live in Paris, no matter how much time goes by.
How human it is to forget the special attributes that we love about a place or a person once their charms are no longer a surprise. How important it is to woe in a little romance, to fall in love all over again with what we already have.