“When this falls off, you will find love.”
And old woman handed me a thin anklet with three blue beads on it. I glanced at it through exhausted eyes. My dad and I had just spent all day in Old Towne San Diego, which is bustling with Mexican markets and freshly made tortillas. At that point, I really only wanted a burrito.
“It’s only $1 for you. You will find love,” she pressed.
Well, I do like the color blue. I fumbled around in my wallet and dropped four quarters into her hand. I didn’t put the anklet on until after I had eaten, was well-rested, and had nothing else to do. Although I love good luck charms, this one was a little out-there.
This was four months ago, in the beginning of January.
On the last day of our stay in Paris over spring break, my “love” bracelet fell off. I stared at it for a second as it layed on the ground. I certainly wasn’t in love with anyone. Yet, I had just had a life changing vacation in Paris.
I glanced up at Ivy.
“Kels, you fell in love with the city,” she smiled.
Thank God for cheesey friends. She was right.
Ivy and I both had spent our entire lives pushing away fairy tale ideas while secretly wanting to believe in the magic and love of them all. In a way, reality had tied a hankerchief around our eyes, but never completely concealed our senses.
Paris is living proof that those magical fairy tales do exist, in real life.
But more about that later…
It’s a city obsessed with the concept of beauty. It sets up this perfect, ideal world in which lacy balconies should of course overlook gardens of tulips, and where fluffy white dogs trot aside immense marble sculptures on the streets. Snails are served with style, and incredible taste, while la crème brûlée clearly has the best taste under a glimmering Eiffel Tower.
Paris was everything, and so much more, I could ever imagine. We went to The Louvre museum and were blown away by every single corridor, ceiling art, and sculpted wall. That doesn’t even begin to cover the artwork inside. Once again I realized how much history does matter, and how much dedication thousands of humans have put into artwork and beauty for thousands of years. We saw the Mona Lisa, and walked by Napoleon’s personal items. The list could go on and on.
A city that believes in beauty, simply for the sake of beauty, and nothing else…. Proof of magic #1.
We stopped by Notre Dame, which proved to be my favorite cathedral in Europe thus far. There, it was chilling to realize that those people who had spent their entire lives to build such a beautiful place really loved and believed in God. Believing in someone enough to love them is a risk. Having enough confidence in an idea to let it flourish requires courage. Yet devoting every bit of your existence to a power you have never met is something almost incomprehensible.
And there we stood, in 2012, feeling like we were about to be swept into a purple crystalized heaven because of them.
We did nothing, and those with so much faith 800 years ago asked nothing of us now. They believed in creating beauty for the god they loved. Regardless of if the universe is swept with unknown powers, or only with crumbs of lonely stars, that passion alone is an idea worth love.
Love strong enough to construct Notre Dame…. Proof of magic #2.
We made crepes with nutella thanks to the local supermarket, and had a picnic in Marie Antoinette’s palace pond in Versailles. The grass was lush and tall. A horse drawn to it’s owner by a single rope munched under a tree nearby. The lake was dotted with ducks and swans.
It was all so beautiful, and we fell asleep in the sun for an hour after our picnic. As dreams of real life started to invade my nap, I woke to the fairy tale we were in. I couldn’t ask for more.
Finally the Eiffel Tower – and the belief in love.
We Found Love in a Hopeless Place - Rihanna accomponied this moment for us.
Ok, so maybe Paris is the furthest thing from a “hopeless place” in this universe. Yet, as Ivy and I listened to this song (and all of our other favorites) at the very top of a glittering Eiffel Tower at night, we saw before our eyes something we had just begun to rediscover.
And we’re not just talking about some future, dreamy, romantic love here.
Instead, we realized that everything we had pushed out of our lives – the belief of magic, beauty just for beauty (and not efficiency), and the idea of love for life and for ourselves- was now drowning every feeling within us. It doesn’t matter what others consider “realistic”.
This was our reality.
A man proposed to his girlfriend a few feet from us, and delighted strangers snapped photos while clapping and smother the couple with hugs. Paris quietly bustled below us, and the hundreds of strangers (whose minds were undoubtedly noisy with thoughts) moved silently as black flickers. All those worries were insignificant and muted up here.
All we saw was beauty, love, and art in this city.
It all taught us that even in this world that likes to point out the negative and incorrect, those three things can still exist.
That moment taught us to find love… in a hopeless place.
…Proof of magic #3.