“Hey, Chuck, would you like to go to Paris?”
Four years ago, I was offered an opportunity from my business partner Ms Shi. A group of her clients from the fashion industry were about to set off to Paris for a fashion exhibition and she thought I could be the perfect guide to turn their otherwise work-led trip into one full of inspiration. I was too ecstatic and started to research right away. There’s always a call in my brain, which is to go explore and share the wonders of the world with more people.
The calling only got stronger when before we were to depart for our Parisian adventure, the borders were closed suddenly and international travels were suspended for one year, then two years then three years, to a seemingly indefinite time. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Arc de Triomphe had popped into my dreams again and again.
It was too surreal when I raised up a glass of champagne offered by a French house keeper who learnt that we flew 16 hours to finally make it to France. The scenes surrounding me had appeared in my dreams, too: the ivy growing on the historic white facade, the cobble stones beneath my feet, the elegantly composed Eiffel tower in the distance. And oh, the city of lights. “Cheers!” I toasted to my friend. The bubbles in my glass were like fireworks shining sparkly.
No matter how many times I had imagined things in my mind, seeing Paris and feeling its impulse with my own eyes is magical. The first thing that captured my curiosity was the trees along the pathways. On the exuberant lush sentinels were clusters of upside down ice-cream-cone-shaped pink flowers. The otherwise bland greenery was embroidered with pink patterns. I followed the manicured paths and arrived at the pearl of the crown: the Musée Marmottan Monet. I was dropped into a world the artist created, feeling the breath of the lights and shades on the canvases. The artist, finding so much inspiration in Paris, loved the city. Staring at one of the works painted with the artist’s iconic Impressionist style, I saw something familiar. The trees in the background were dotted with different shades of pink. Aren’t they the same trees that I appreciated on the street? The trees that captured my attention did the same to Monet too. The trees are like the spirit tree in Avatar, connecting with it brings analogical feelings that cross generations. I felt that I was looking at the city in the eyes of the artist. Time stopped. An overwhelming emotions overcame me. And I noticed that by the artwork is a window, through which I saw the same tree, occupying the view with lush and pink flowers.
Paris is for everyone. At a subway station where we were waiting for our train, doors opened and various people disembarked, different races, skin colors, dressing styles and ages. But Paris is especially for the ones who have romance running in their blood. Walking past the well pruned garden of the Rodin museum, I saw two lovers taking a rest on a bench, the girl half lying against the back of the bench, reading her book, with the boy laying his head on her lap, dozing, and listening to music on his headphones. Behind them was the famous Thinker statue. The gentle afternoon sunshine extended the shadows and prolonged any love stories under its mercy.
From an intruder to an insider, our admiration of the city grew. On our last day of the trip, we decided to spend the remaining day as a true Parisian, an incurably romantic Parisian. We went to our favorite bistro and dined al fresco. Champagne was quickly served. The sunshine gilded the bubbles with gold. Several birds landed beside us, pecking on bread scraps and dancing a satisfied dance. The lovers hand in hand walked past us, leaving only crisp laughter. The newspaper boy held up the freshly published news, peddling around, with extreme exuberance on his smiling face. The locals who also take the outdoor seats enjoy their gathering time, watching the people and getting themselves watched. The champagne played its role and our moods were boosted. We didn’t watch a romance movie. We were in one.
Missing Paris is a long lasting symptom. I keep being reminded of the wonders the city offers, among which is the hospitality from a flight attendant with Air France.
On a detour to Roma, our flight was severely delayed. A flight attendant greeted us compassionately. “We feel so sorry for the delay. But Champagne can be a good idea, can’t it?” She was holding a bottle of champagne, pouring a glass and handing it to me. Her kindness was infectious. The two hour flight saw her trying her best to make the flight a pleasant one. “I hope you will enjoy your journey in Roma. But of course, I hope Paris is still your favorite.” She said good bye when we landed.
Our returning flights departed at 6:30am. Lining up with sleepy eyes, a familiar passionate voice broke out. “Mr.Chuck Chen, what a coincidence. Nice to meet you again.” It’s her. I just couldn’t believe she remembered my name. She picked up my hands, jumping like a happy kid. “So tell me, did you enjoy yourself in Roma? Which do you like better? Paris or Roma?” she asked genuinely. “I did. We went to a lot of places of interest. But you know what, Paris still rates the top.” “Yeah, we won!” She raised up here arms in the air.“
Mr, Chuck Chen, I hope we can see you again very soon. Paris is always waiting for you.” Said she when we arrived at CDG airport. I said goodbye to her. And I know for sure I will come back. I lost my heart to Paris.
On the flight back to Guangzhou, what happened in Paris reeled fast in my brain. Before I set my feet in Paris, I just simply wanted to make the long-delayed trip happen. I didn’t expect I would be inspired so much. There are great cities and there’s Paris. It’s so charming that I dream one day soon we can join the vibrant scene and become part of it.
I turned on the screen. The movie on the front page was Mrs. Harries Goes to Paris. What a coincidence. In the movie, Mrs. Harris took signs and treated everyday as her lucky day. She tried her best, got to Paris, purchased her dream dress and made her dreams came true. “We need our dreams. Now more than ever.”Paris is for dreamers. And I think I am one.
In the upcoming summer, we pay tribute to the calling to discover wonders around the world. Our favorite artist Nicole was enlisted to take up the vision design and had our beloved mascot Watermelong take a flight to discover the infinite. To inspire and get inspired, LC is always a good idea.