I dream of Paris.
I dream of champagne sparkling towers reaching into the night, viewed from boats crossing the inky water of the Seine. I can feel the cold wind biting beneath my layers, my skin still warm from Africa, not used to this sky that whispers of snow.
I dream of sunlit mornings strolling past Notre Dame between stalls selling wares that rival Portabello as scents of brioche and strong café merge together to make my stomach ache with longing. I stop at the cathedral and let my eyes be drawn to the wonders that lie without, nevermind within. The stone carved faces that adorn the building, always watching, always judging; the delicacy with which they have been carved astounding me more than the coloured glass ever could. The staircase spiraling upwards towards the gothic skies holding views that steal my breath.
I dream of getting lost within the winding halls of the Louvre, the portraits becoming my companions, the walls becoming my home. I think that we’d fare well, Mona Lisa and I, the enigma of her smile to keep me guessing, Milo’s Venus poised for dancing. I’d whisper my secrets to them while I uncovered theirs, though I’m sure it’d take more years to whittle them down than I have left to live. I’d sleep below high ceilings, gilded and glinting, or beneath a pyramid of starry sky.
I dream of Paris, though it’s been half a lifetime since I visited, nothing more than a bored child, unwilling to uncover the beauty that it held. What I would do differently if I were to return, and what I wouldn’t change. I would wander the streets until the early hours of the morning. I would live off baguettes and frequent the Moulin Rouge every other day, just to say that I’d walked the footsteps of those that have passed. I would breathe in deeply to know that my lungs are filled with the air of art and food and wine. I would spend my days watching the people – the tourists, the locals, the sellers of flowers and trinkets – and seeing how it is that they experience the beauty of the city of love.
I dream of Paris. I dream of returning one day, though I have no idea when that will be. They are only dreams, but they are dreams that keep me pushing forward, that keep me dreaming. They are dreams that remind me of when things were simple, when life could be as easy as taking a stroll along the Seine, when the world was beautiful and filled with love and joy and art. I’m scared that when I return to Paris, my dreams will turn to nightmares, my strolls becoming nothing more than empty walking without seeing, the Louvre nothing more than dust, Notre Dame nothing more than stone, the wonder of a child lost to my sad eyes. I dream of Paris, and I hope that it will still be there in the morning.