Paris, l'Opera. 2010.
It doesn’t take much. A deserted street at dusk, with the summer sunlight lingering on the upper floors of a row of buildings and the sidewalks down below already deep in shadow, may get some old movie in our heads rolling again. Since we are ordinarily better at forgetting than remembering, it is often a mystery why some such sight has stamped itself on our memory, when countless others that ought to have far greater meaning can hardly be said to exist for us anymore. It makes me suspect that a richer and less predictable account of our lives would eschew chronology and any attempt to fit a lifetime into a coherent narrative and instead be made up of a series of fragments, spur-of-the-moment reminiscences occasioned by whatever gets our imagination working.
Paris is, and will likely forever be, my memory trap.
I think it was that way before I had even been there the first time. But it was our second time, although our first together, which hangs in my mind most often these days.
After stashing our bags at the hostel mid-morning, we snuck out and wound our way through the tightly cobbled lanes of the Marais. The air was crisp, with a cool blueness settling over the rooflines. I can't seem to remember anyone else being out. In my mind, the streets were impossibly ours.
Each with a white-specked brioche tucked into a brown paper bags at a quiet boulangerie, we found a place to sit by the canal. The cobbles were warm, and the roughness didn't bother us. Our teenage knees and travel-worn legs dangled. We couldn't help ourselves but to grin.
We were here.