City of Lights

Right now I am thinking about Paris, goodness knows why. I guess when you’re mired in the everyday, boxed in by the tedium of work and adult responsibilities, it’s natural to yearn for a change of pace, a change of venue. Yearning is a good word here. It’s more than a wish, deeper than a desire—it’s a near physical pull, a visceral longing, a physiological as well as an emotional reaction to images that slideshow through the mind. Like: the Jardin Luxembourg, its fountains and grass and little black fences; Notre Dame and the muddy brown waters of the Seine; the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, monuments that stand not just for vanity, endurance, and pride but the human ability to transcend the ordinary, to connect to greatness from the swirl of mundane concerns.

Wouldn’t it be incredible if Paris were somewhere you could walk to, or drive to in half a day? But getting there is complicated—money, passport, time away from those adult responsibilities we were just discussing. 

Thinking about the future is a funny thing, almost like a hand in poker. What does the next card hold for me? Does it better my chances or leave me drawing dead? Will I make it back before this game is over? 

It’s been more than 20 years since I was there, but I can still visualize the elegant but grimy streets and feel the light touch of April sunshine and the sense of being far from home while also exactly in the right place. 

I don’t know. It’s the kind of thing that involves dozens of decisions, any of which could be the wrong one. I think for now, maybe, it is enough not to fold this hand, not to discount this yearning.


Richmond, VA

Alexandra DuckworthComment