I cried. Good thing I was on my prep hour when I saw the news because I sat at my desk and cried.
The loss is devastating, but for some reason I feel the need to apologize for being so upset…for being so “silly.”
It was “just a building” they’ll say.
And I am glad that no one was hurt. I don’t mean to discount that.
But she was not, she IS NOT “just a building.”
Paris was my first international trip. My first love. And you never forget your first love.
My college boyfriend, Dan, won the tickets at a U of M basketball game…right before Valentine’s Day. So that was my gift. A trip to Paris. I was in disbelief. Was this real? Was this really happening to me?
We went in August of 2010, and Notre Dame was the site I was excited to see the most.
We toured the cathedral one day and went back to climb one of the towers on another.
We couldn’t stay away.
I will never forget the magic of spotting her from the plane. A little miniature Notre Dame sitting on her island in the Seine. It was one of the most surreal moments of my life.
The monuments of Paris scattered around, like little Monopoly pieces on a game board.
I’ll never forget looking down and seeing her glow from the top of the Eiffel Tower at night.
Or what it felt like to stand in front of her for the first time.
Indescribable. Breathtaking. Surreal. Overwhelming. Gratitude. Shock and awe.
You know when your throat tightens, and you can’t speak, and tears are bubbling right underneath the surface threatening to burst through at any moment?
The beauty and the intricacy.
I could have stood outside and stared at her all day.
The sheer magnitude of it all. It’s incomprehensible how mankind even built such a thing starting back in 1163.
The stained glass and the Gothic architecture. There is nothing like it in the world.
Later I thought, “Maybe it’s just because she is my first…?”
But nothing has been able to compare.
She’s just dazzling.
Everywhere I went around Paris, I looked for her. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.
We walked along the Seine from Notre Dame to the Musée d’Orsay that day, and I kept stopping to look back…just mesmerized by the sight.
Notre Dame is magic. Sacred. To be near her is to be on hallowed ground.
It was a privilege to see her and to step foot inside.
I was going through an old time capsule a few years ago. I made it back in the 5th grade, and I was supposed to open it up when I graduated from high school. Oops.
There was a letter to myself and a few little trinkets inside. There were also some surveys inside that our teacher had us fill out. Mine said that the place I MOST wanted to see in the world was Paris.
Kind of funny, isn’t it? I forgot all about it. Back in the year 2000, I said that Paris was the place I wanted to see the most in the world. In 2010, I finally got to go.
My heart breaks for Paris, for France, for the world really. An important and special piece of history was lost today.
An important part of the future was lost today too though.
When I got home, my mom asked me if I had heard the news.
With tears in her eyes she said, “At least you got to see it in person.”
And then we cried a little bit together.
My mom and I, we’re like the same person.
She doesn’t know this, but one of my goals is to take her traveling with me. It’s my “why?” What am I doing here, and why am I working so hard on this blog?
There are many reasons, but a big one is because I want to take my mom around the world with me.
I know how much she wants to see Europe, and I want nothing more than to give that to her. I made a promise to myself last summer. “Someday, someday soon…”
The fact that none of my family will get to see Notre Dame and experience the magic that I felt is devastating to me.
I am devastated for EVERYONE who was hoping to go someday.
I am devastated for all future generations as well.
My heart breaks for you. It breaks for all of us.
Paris will rebuild, I am sure.
But I know in my heart that Notre Dame will never be the same.
This summer, I had a chance to go back.
I had a chance to go back, and I did not.
I will regret that now forever.
Maybe I would have been able to see her one more time before…
I took it for granted that I would go again “someday.”
This past summer, I was living in Lisbon for a month. I met up with my friend Meera for a long weekend in Barcelona. We did a Tapas Tour, and that’s where I met Blake.
We had a little romance. A love connection. Whatever you want to call it. (Minds out of the gutter people!)
You know, sometimes you meet someone, and you just connect?
Anyway…I was heading back to Lisbon and he was going to Paris before heading home.
He asked me to come with him.
I wasn’t sure if he was joking or serious, but I did consider it.
And ultimately I decided no.
I’m not 100% sure why. Why wasn’t I spontaneous? Why didn’t I just go for it?
Was it because Paris was a special place that I had shared with someone else?
Was I afraid of damaging or replacing those memories?
Was I afraid of facing those memories again?
That old feelings from a lost love would come to the surface?
What was I afraid of? I don’t know.
I do know that I blocked out the magic of Paris in my mind because it became intertwined with pain.
I went to Paris with Dan, and Dan broke my heart. So it was just better to not remember how much I loved it.
I didn’t go.
The moral of this story today is the same moral of every story worth telling.
Don’t wait for the weekend…
For better weather…
For the summer…
For the perfect time…
Til you’re ready…
Til you’re older…
Til you have more money…
The lesson is always the same.
Do it now.
Say it now.
Take a chance.
Take a risk.
The time is now. After all, it’s the only time you’ve got.
Do the things that scare you because those are the things worth doing.
Say what you want to say.
Do what you want to do.
This is your one life.
Our biggest regrets are the words we leave unspoken, and the chances that we don’t take.
It might payoff or it might not.
But you may never get that chance again.
Notre Dame is a Catholic Church, and I am a Catholic. So I leave you today with this quote from the Bible that is hanging on a post-it note above my desk: “I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord.” – Isaiah 66:9