There is a small Eiffel Tower that sits on our mantel, maybe 5 or 6 inches tall. One of my best friends and old college roommates was living in Europe, so the other roommate and I went over there to stay with her. We all went on a jaunt to Italy and then Ashley and I headed to Paris for two days of trying to squeeze in as much France-i-ness as we possibly could. It started with the Eiffel Tower, of course. We went all the way to the top and at a little gift shop up on a middle level, I bought a set of coasters with scenes of Paris and this tiny Eiffel Tower.
I’ve never been much into French decor, but this token is one of the things I have that I treasure greatly because it brings back memories of an adventure, of the Louvre, staring tiny Mona Lisa right in those mysterious eyes, seeing Winged Victory for the first time at the top of a massive stone staircase, running past DaVinci and waving, hoping I’d come back to appreciate him more, of pastries and crepes and hot chocolates, of getting sneered at in a cafe because we couldn’t read the menu and, Heaven forbid, asked a question, of parks and flowers, and crossing a roundabout, nearly losing life and limb to see a fountain, of standing before the splendor of Notre Dame and sitting on old pews listening to the mass, getting a sore neck from staring transfixed at the rose window, of staying in a hotel room the size of a shoe box and having to squish against the wall every time we needed to pass each other. There was so much we still weren’t able to see, but I’ve always wanted to go back even though the city was dark, the buildings were covered in centuries of grime, and the people were a stark contrast to the open welcome we received in Italy. And yet, there is something about Paris that enchants, leaves a mark etched in your soul.
I’m so deeply saddened that a city of such beauty has endured such violence within its walls this year. I have nothing to say which hasn’t already been said, just a feeling of emptiness in my gut. The world is in a sad state and I often feel helpless as to what I can do about it, so I sit home and stew, getting angry at uncharitable people who feel we should turn everyone in need away from our borders, yet this accomplishes nothing. However, the season of thankfulness is upon us, so in spite of the horrors in our world, every one of us has the ability to look up and be thankful that we are alive, that we are here to experience what this earth has to give us, whether that be joy or sorrow.
Tomorrow we head to the mountains…from whence our help comes. Nature seems to be the best kind of solace, a balm for the wounds of humanity, opening its arms, arresting us with its beauty, and reminding us of how very small we are. I feel absolutely desperate to get away from here, to be in the middle of nowhere, to look out and see nothing but peaks for miles. We had decided to “opt outside” before it became a thing, and the idea of being away from civilization even for a small patch of time amidst days of frenzied consumerism, makes my lungs and heart feel less constricted and able to breathe easier. Weather/elevation permitting, we’ll be hiking a few trails along the AT where I will either die from happiness or a hungry bear or muscle fatigue…
Through everything the people in our lives make life worth living, connection with others, a brief word spoken in a hard time, a soft touch in a lonely place, and I could not be more thankful for the ones in ours. There are so many who I think about and haven’t seen in years, childhood friends, family members far away, people from church at home…who all at some point poured lovingly into my heart, and even into Rob’s heart too. You are noticed and loved more than you know! There is a young woman I grew up with who I still think of as being two years old, who is backpacking all over the place and figuring out her way in life. Another childhood friend who came out and lives proudly as the individual, beautiful person she is. Women from church whose words of wisdom still ring in my ears, whose loving hugs I can still feel around my arms. High school friends who have gorgeous children, who I used to sit next to in chorus or play volleyball with, who now have successful, fulfilling lives. Family members who live far away who we would kill to have dinner with once in a while. And of course, my best friends, scattered all over the country whose voices always sound like home.
Thank you for being perfectly you, for living so beautifully, and here’s to much joy on Thanksgiving and much happiness this season!!
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