notre dame

In planning my first trip to Paris, I didn’t care about seeing Notre Dame. I’d read so many descriptions of it by the likes of Dumas, Hugo, Zola.

How could Notre Dame be so special? I thought.

We landed at Charles de Gaulle the day before Thanksgiving 2003. I was shellshocked from my very first trans-Atlantic flight. While MTM snored beside me, I contorted myself into every position my cursed economy class seat allowed. I never even napped, people, and I was pissed upon landing.

Europe was gray: overcast sky, spitting rain, bland customs agents, so-so train. We boarded with our bags and emerged from the dark tunnel onto a sunken railway line littered with trash and graffiti.

I flew all the way to Europe for this? I fumed to myself.

MTM pushed us off the train at Gare du Nord. “We’ll walk to the hotel from here. It’ll do us good.”

“I’m too tired to walk,” I whined. “Can we just find a bench and sleep right now?”

Humanity bumped past us as MTM dragged me from exit to exit, stair to stair. “What was wrong with that one?” I demanded when he backed up, stepped on my toe, and pivoted to another opening at the opposite end.

After three false starts, he finally, mercifully picked a stair and started up, with me bitching my way behind him.

The stair yawned into a park. Misty air hit my cheeks. Clouds parted. The sun came out and shined like a spotlight on the hulk of stone to my left.

“Notre Dame,” I breathed, tears coursing down my face. “I’m really in Paris. Not reading about it in a book.”

Because a few things are better than any book. Like seeing Notre Dame for the first time.

Good Lord. We look so young.

My solidarity and support go out to the French people as they mourn the destruction of Our Lady of Paris. I’m crying with you. With French will, vim, and vigor, as well as support from those of us she’s touched, she will rise again.

The view from the terrace at Institut du Monde Arabe by Jean Nouvel.

I may not be Dumas, Hugo, or Zola, but readers like my books. Check them out HERE, and buy them direct HERE.

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