Monday, April 29, 2013

Taking Back Paris

Three years ago, I was laying in my backyard sun, listening to French language podcasts in anticipation of an upcoming trip to Paris. I spent days perfecting my bechamel sauce, delighting in the endless combinations of cremes and cookies for homespun French macaroons. I steeped myself in the culture as an appetizer for what I hoped to deeply taste on the other side of the sea.

I read a few books, and flipped through a travel resources of things to see and places to eat. I surely wanted to do the city right. But, in honesty, I was even more occupied with the company I would be keeping. I let all of my hopes for to-dos fade into the backdrop of a reunion with my boyfriend at the time, who had been across the pond for almost a year at that point. After a visit to his homebase, our plan was to take a four day Parisian detour. What a romantic idea, what a dream, right?

This is a cautionary tale. This is a story of sorrow and regret. This is a story of prayer for redemption.

The trip began with promise. A strong espresso at Gard du Nord, an impromptu accordion serenade on the metro, and a silvery sky started Paris and I off strong. But, within hours, a grumpy hunger tainted the mood. A subpar first French meal (which proved more of a disappointment than I could've imagined) and a heavy conversation lead us to a stroll by the River Seine. As I looked out on the river, and beheld the grey-washed City of Lights, I cried. A sniffly, embarrassed, looking-the-other-way cry.

Where was the magic? Where was the ease?

The questions I asked during the next four days, the additional tears I cried, and the inner turmoil I suppressed, all turned out to be more prophetic than I was willing to admit. I was in Paris, for Pete's sake. The city of romance. But, what was happening, if I'd been honest, was the very beginning of heartbreak. It was the first scrape in what ended up being a deep and painful wound.

Of course, had it been that obvious, I would have spared myself. But, the beauty of Paris blurred the truth. I was walking the streets of Montmarte, hand in hand with a well-dressed gentleman. I was standing in line, picking out macaroons at the very birthplace of the crispy wafery delight. I was experiencing little forgetful joys all throughout. But, underlying, I would be dishonest with myself not to admit a deep sadness.

Paris is for lovers. But, make no mistake, it is for life-long committed lovers. It's for those who've made a promise under God's love banner that come what may, covenant remains.

Sure, the city is a certainly the epitome of lovely. Even with the heartache and difficulty, the streets managed to charm me around every corner. The beautiful hours of sunlight well past dinner, and the full-flavor of wine-soaked steak. Yes, these are sweet memories. It is those memories that beckon me to return, to redeem a wearied heart, to put another nail in the structure of re-awakened hope.

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