by elizabeth stokkebye
Seventeen and in Paris on my own.
It was my first encounter with the city of love and I was fortunate to stay with an aunt and uncle, who both being workaholics, left me with oceans of time to explore. I hurried out the door to experience the vast world of Paris with its majestic architecture, its towering cathedrals, its world-renowned art collections, its peaceful parks, and its crowds of people.
The air was spring like, mild and sunny, although I was spending my Christmas holiday away from my home in Denmark. Traveling by myself in a foreign world filled me with a sensation of pure freedom. I remember how my breathing felt different: effortless and silent but steady and consistent. It was breathing devoid of depression and anxiety. I breathed without past or future and let the air be present.
Walking along grand boulevards beneath a blue sky sporting white clouds I felt my loving heart circulate blood through my veins.
On my way past one of the many cafés lining the wide sidewalk, my sway caught the attention of a street performer playing his violin. As I danced by him he let go of his instrument and started to sing Ne me quitte pas. I stopped, turned around, and listened to his chanson. Was he performing especially for me?
My youthful disposition was romantic and I was attracted to him. At the same time, I could hear my mother’s voice: “I’m so proud to have brought up a good girl!” I didn’t move. When he was done with the song, he waved me over. I blushed but followed his hand. He grabbed mine and kissed it. I felt the touch of his soft lips. My skin everywhere reacted by turning prickly and my breathing intensified.
“Ma Cherie,” he whispered.
All of a sudden my body felt heavy and I pulled away. Caught between wanting to leave and wanting to stay, I sat down on a bistro chair.
“Please, I need a minute,” I uttered.
“Bien sûr!” he smiled.
He put his violin to his neck once again and with closed eyes, he played the sweetest melody riding through the air and penetrating the toughest disposition.
Paralyzed, I tried to think. Should I leave or should I stay? My sense of freedom had slowly vanished which made the decision so much harder. The guy was cute, romantic and talented.
A waiter came over and I asked for a café au lait. As more people gathered around to listen to the soft music, I started to relax. He didn’t sing again which made me feel special.
Immersed in the music, I let go of time. Slowly, the morning faded, noon hour came around, and with his violin case full of money, he sang out:
“La dernière chanson!”
From his slender body came Que je t’aime and I didn’t know where to look. My gaze fell on a young woman advancing hurriedly towards us and embodying a sense of pure joy. She stepped right up to my singer and kissed him on the mouth.
HAVE YOU SEEN THIS?