But it was all going by too fast now for his blurred eyes and he knew that he had lost that part of it, the freshest and the best, forever.
The book: Gatsby le Magnifique par F. Scott Fitzgerald
It’s chilly out here. Not as cold as I’d imagine of a European winter, but a gust of wind here or there still gives me the shivers. The wind is strong especially up here at the Butte de Montmartre, where one has to ascend staircase upon staircase to the peak, home of the formidable Sacre Coeur. The Christmas market is in full swing, scents of apple cider and mulled wine enticing the senses with warm holiday memories. I can’t tell if there are more people here than usual, but it does not matter, because as I’m standing there literally at the foot of the first place I felt alive only six short, long years ago, it’s just me and her. Sacre Coeur.
She holds good memories for me. Amidst her background, my friends and I waited for the sunrise over Paris one unfortunately cold night in 2007. Together we huddled, finding warmth in each other, but bitter all the same at cold, tenaciously holding on because we all agreed this would be a great memory one day. We were not wrong. It’s still one of my favorite memories of Paris, the seven or eight of us together there on that step, one blanket barely covering our shoulders, watching the sun rise over a blanket of fog in a city that serendipitously brought us all together and where we all said goodbye a few months later, promising to keep in touch.
The funny thing is, though, we all did keep in touch. It’s been six years, we we’ve all seen each other at different points in our lives, in different cities. I know six years doesn’t seem such a long time to continue to keep in contact, but I really admire our effort all the time. I hope six years turns into sixty.
Paris holds a really special place in my heart. That may be an understatement, but she is special and she is in my heart. At the beginning of the year, I’d never imagined I’d stroll down her historic rues, craning my neck at her balconies, each a work of art of its own merits. Have I told you that Paris’ balconies, each proudly showcasing a different design, are one of my favorite things to see? Her balconies first taught me to look up. She taught me that all I have to do is glance upward, and the world is immediately new, different, and fresh. I could stand still, in the same place I’d always been, and all I would have to do is look up. Just look up.
Now as I’m staring down at the screen, my fingers typing almost autonomously to the cartoons from the television in the background, all I can remark is how warm it is inside in this apartment. I’ve left Paris for Lyon, France, where one of my cousins also lives. I was invited into her home, a cousin whom I only met for the first time when her family visited New York this past October. We spent only three hours together in New York, first walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, then to Nam Wah Dim Sum Parlor, and finally to end up at Café Reggio, and now I’m in her home in Lyon. That’s the warmth of family, I suppose. They welcome you with open arms, even though you’ve never met or can barely speak or communicate in the same language. All that ties us is our kinship, and that’s still a concept I admit I still don’t completely understand because its power is unfathomable to me. People whom you may meet only once in your life, or maybe have nothing in common on the surface, but with whom you’re forever cosmically connected. And when you do meet, for the first time, or again after many years, the warmth of their presence is what surrounds you.
My family’s scattered all over the world, as are my friends, and all I’ve been doing over the past few years is voyaging towards them, one by one. This whole time I’d been thinking I’d been traveling to cities, to discover new sights or sounds. I fall in love with places. It’s true to a large extent, but what I’ve really been doing is traveling towards people, my people, seeking them out wherever they may be. I’m following the warmth of their home. I’m following their trail against the wind, with my head down at the ground in order for my feet to keep going, so that when I do look up, there they are.
Memory Moment Fifty One.
Next Week: Paris Est Une Fete par Ernest Hemingway