This is a story for T.
It is a fairy tale but it is also a true story. It is a story about a place -- Paris -- and a secret dream.
It is about the power of a wish, and that wishes do come true. Sometimes they come true quickly, and sometimes they take a while longer.
Once upon a time there was a girl with brown hair and blue eyes, and she went to Paris with the studious college boy whom she would marry the following year.
The girl had never been anywhere before. She had gotten her passport especially for this trip.
She was 24 years old and had never done anything special in her life. She just lived her life without thinking about it one way or another.
And then one day, she was in Paris.
The flight was longer than she expected it would be. Dragging her luggage through Charles de Gaulle airport almost made her cry because her suitcase had no wheels and it was so heavy after all of those hours in the plane. Since she had never been anywhere before, she did not even think to use a suitcase that had wheels on it. She just used the suitcase her mom and dad had. It was old.
She and the boy were too tired to talk. They figured out how to get to the RER train and then to the metro and then to the 5th arrondisement, where their cheap hotel was located on a narrow alley.
They dragged their luggage up three or four flights of stairs. She lost count of the steps. She lay down on the hard twin bed and fell into a dead sleep.
When she woke up, the sky was pink. The sun was setting.
The boy was still asleep or tired and didn't want to go out. So she went by herself. She didn't really know where she was going, but before she knew it, she was on the quai of the Left Bank, looking at Notre Dame Cathedral.
The entire sky was glowing pink and orange with the setting sun. Notre Dame was so beautiful and she had never seen anything like it in her life, so she started to cry. She was frozen to the spot where she stood. People walked around her.
One day or the next, the brown-haired girl was walking along the Quai de Bourbon on the Ile St. Louis. By now the rhythms of Paris were not so foreign to her.
She stopped at 19, Quai de Bourbon. There was an engraved plaque to the right of the blue enamel-painted doors. The plaque was dedicated to Camille Claudel, a talented sculptress and mistress of Auguste Rodin. She had lived in this building. You might know where this building is.
One of the enamel doors was ajar. The girl could peek into the courtyard behind the door, into the serene garden that was hidden to the rest of Paris and to the world. A grey cat watched her.
She wanted so badly to go through the gate. But she didn't dare. She stood as long as she could and looked and looked at the sliver of the garden that she could see until she felt uncomfortable standing and staring and then she walked away.
But in her heart she wished so hard that someday she would be back, and then she would walk through that gate for real. She would be brave.
The girl married the boy. Years passed.
She thought about Paris and the pink sunset and the blue gate and the secret garden. When she closed her eyes, she could see everything just as if she was there, it was that real.
More years passed. The boy that became the husband became the ex-husband. But that is another story.
She didn't think about Paris as much as she used to, but when she did, she thought about the garden and the blue door and the cat.
And then the girl met another boy.
And this boy had a key.
This boy sent her to Paris with the key and told her to go and enjoy herself.
The girl stood before the enameled door.
She had the key.
She unlocked the gate. And she walked in and closed the door behind her.
It had taken fifteen years but she was there.
Her wish had come true.
And that is a true story.
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Thursday, April 3, 2008
This is a story for T.