Thanks to our friend Andrew Z. from Displays of Emotions! He has sent in a story on his bizarre yet exciting adventure across Europe, but he knows nothing can compare to his one and only home – Sydney. Yes, even as men, we should express our feelings in an unreserved manner.
A photo of Andrew and his mates under the Eiffel Tower.
When we got off the train, the air was soothing, more like spring than summer. The station was modern and bustling, but nothing stood out as familiar as of yet. The light was a muddled sheer golden with the looming clouds intruding the rays of sun. We stepped outside the train station to hail a taxi. Even in the fissures of sunlight, the architecture that lined the streets popped into gleaming sculptural shapes of grandeur. “Welcome,” we told ourselves in pure disbelief “to the city of lights and romance – Paris.”
We had come to Paris, with the sun slowly setting in an economy-class Eurostar train that travelled at speeds that were dizzying at ground-level. That was at the end of a week stay in London, where a girl I had met stole my heart – whose [inner] beauty is unlike any other – and lingered in my every thought. Not only did Europe have me under its whimsical charm, but so did this breathtaking girl whom I was missing. As Martin Buber says “all journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware”; she was my unsuspecting destination. A destination that shone brighter than all the cities we visited across Europe.
Finally we hailed a taxi. The stereotypes of aggressive European drivers are true for the most part. The driver whizzed through the disorganised chaos of traffic, gesturing rudely at other drivers every few moment, whether right or wrong. As we clung onto dear life, the city grew into life. Everything was soft, the cobblestones in the street shone like stain, the edges of the aging architecture were rounded and worn, the lamplights aged and almost romantic. There was no immediate correlation to Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, but nonetheless the beauty of Paris was something of its own.
On our first full day in Paris, the sky was a deep, cloudless blue. But in spite of the flawless weather, our bodies were weak…products of the extreme partying across Europe. Despite this, we fit in every French activity that was possible to cram into a single full day. We consumed delicate escargots to flavoursome macaroons. Walked and shopped the Champs-Élysées under the summer sun. Climbed the Arc de Triomphe, where the view encompasses all of Paris, the skyline littered with famous landmarks: the Eiffel tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre Pyramid. The orange tinge of a concluding day nestled behind the elegance of the Eiffel Tower, as we lay sprawled on the grass staring in bliss.
It seemed impossible to us, that we could have ever felt such happiness in a place so foreign to us all. When reminiscing the events of the past month beneath Paris’ most iconic structure [and celebrating our friends birthday], it was to the equally joyful sounds of our laughter. On our last morning, we were enwrapped in love: with Paris, with Europe, with my small travelling family and with our adventure. As I sipped my last Parisian coffee in the allure of the city before boarding a train to the airport, I thought about everything I’d be missing once we leave Europe. I knew I’d be back soon, but there was something I missed more than Europe. A revered place where the sun always shines, the ocean breeze flows, the birds tweet and chirp, the city lights dance upon the harbour water, passer-by’s nod and smile. “Home”, I smiled to myself.