I remember the first time I dreamed of Paris. I was in a college art history class – the first of many – sitting in a darkened auditorium watching images flash on to the screen. The Impressionists, the Expressionists – the glow of Renoir’s skins, the stroke of Monet. There was this swirl of history and imagery and I remember thinking, “One day I will stand and see these in person, in their home, in their city.”
I’ve been to Paris many times in my head. I’ve dreamed of it alone and with others. Ask me and I’ll tell you about sparkling, black lace skirts and cobblestones, street lamps, long stemmed, white, French tulips in brown paper wrappings and the imagined scent of a boutique hotel room. I could tell you of patisseries and street markets and blowing bubbles off the Eiffel Tower.
There was a time I thought I’d never get there. There was always a “couldn’t” or “wouldn’t” or “shouldn’t” in the way. I’d resigned myself to stop thinking about it. It’s a terrible thing to pack a dream away, especially one so vivid. But I did.
Best laid plans and all.
But then I read a story Gwyneth Paltrow tells about going to Paris with her beloved father at the age of 11. When she asked him why they went by themselves he turned to her and said, “Because I wanted your first trip to Paris to be with the one man who is going to love you for the rest of your life.”
I didn’t really understand that until now, but of course. Of course.
I didn’t think I’d get to Paris, but, as it turns out, I will. In April. My folks are taking us to London and Paris – and somewhere in that city, Dad and I are going to take a picture that will last a lifetime.