Notre-Dame de Paris

In the land before Facebook, I lived in a suburb of Paris, France. It was quite an adventure filled with lots of wonder and awe. I lived on Boulevard Victor Hugo. Every day I walked the cobblestone streets wondering who had walked these streets before me. There were some clues to who had come before us in these spaces–signs above doors denoting famous inhabitants, books that detailed the history of certain places, and old photographs or paintings that were on display. It was surreal to think of the history that happened on the very places where I walked on a regular basis…my home metro stop was across the street from the palace where King Louis the 14th was born! Every time someone came to visit there were two places they wanted to go: la Tour Effiel and Notre Dame. I honestly have no idea how many times I have seen that beautiful cathedral at this point as it was not just a tourist destination, but it was part of the backdrop of living in and around Paris—a living backdrop with stories all her own. When deciding where to meet up with people, we often referenced Notre Dame or Île de la Cité (the island upon which she sits). I sat across the river from her many times waiting to meet up with friends for a night of good conversation and wine in the Latin Quarter. I also remember a trip to the prefecture that then had us searching for ice cream all in her shadows on a hot summer day. I hurt today because she hurts, but her story does not end with today. Long into the future, she will tell the harrowing tale of today to those that come to visit, use her as a landmark, and seek comfort in her shadows.