“When good Americans die, they go to Paris.” -Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
I’ve wanted to see the Eiffel Tower ever since I was a child. I had heard that it lit up the Parisian sky every night, its golden lights reaching for miles. And that, maybe, you’d be able to see the man made diamonds on a clear day as far as France's countryside.
But I have only heard such things. Never seen.
Except a few times in movies and television shows. I’ve seen the Eiffel Tower in Funny Face as I watched Audrey Hepburn dance around the streets of Paris, singing “Bonjour, Paris.”
Sometimes, I’d join in. I’d sing “Bonjour, Paris” like I had been.
But I’ve never had the chance to say goodbye. Much less hello.
On occasion, I think of what I would do, what I would wear, the people I’d meet, and whether Parisians would snicker at my terrible French if I had the chance to go.
If I had the chance to see.
But would I sing like Audrey? Probably not.
I think I’d want to be a bit like Blair Waldorf in Gossip Girl: walking around like I knew what I was doing, where I was going. Always confident and dressed to the nines, carrying around brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton courtesy of my rich parents.
In reality, though, I know I’d act like that silly American wearing a beret atop my head with a cigarette in one hand and an entire baguette in the other. But only for a short time (minus the baguette. That would definitely stay. I like bread too much).
I’d probably be more like Emily Cooper in Emily In Paris: Lost. Confused. Ready to see all of Frances’ monuments and eat all the French food that I can. And my fashion choices would most definitely be questionable at times.
But, the thing is, is I’m not Audrey. Or Blair. Not even Emily.
I can’t go to Paris, or anywhere for that matter. COVID-19 made that impossible.
I was meant to study abroad, to see the world. It didn’t have to be France.
The experience meant more to me than the destination, and if I can’t experience the world, I’ll have the world experience my subpar photoshopping skills instead.
First and foremost, I know I’d walk for miles, wearing my docs or my filas, everywhere I went.
I’d go to the Louvre.
I’d see the real Mona Lisa, face-to-face. Not a replica. I’d look at the painting that I had grown up seeing plastered on the walls of every Italian restaraunt I’d been to growing up. I’d see sculptures like the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo - and others that I’d read about in my Art History book my first semester of college.
Then not long after, maybe I’d stop by a café and ask for a coffee, or a tasse de thé if I felt extra confident. I’d get a croissant, or two, because I’d heard that on the streets of Paris they were made fresh. Not at all like the ones my parents had bought when I was a kid in the bakery section of the local grocery store.
The Palais-Royal would be next.
A royal palace, something I’d never seen.
I’d think of how some of the members of the House of Orleans had lived here for some time, hosting extravagant parties and court gatherings. I’d feel a bit like I was in some historical fiction novel, roaming the gold adorned hallways, walking up flights of marble stairs, and looking out to the Jardin du Palais-Royal.
But something would be pulling me away from all of this. I would see it peeking over the buildings in France, calling my name. My feet would begin to move, faster and faster. I’d come here for this; I’d come to see one of the wonders of the world.
The Eiffel Tower.
It is there, and it will always be there. When it is my time to go abroad, I will see it.
And it is times like this that I realize I am nothing but a dreamer.
I know I could go anywhere, really. London. Stockholm. Berlin. Prague. Even Moscow.
I could go anywhere...
With my imagination, of course.