Have tea with me

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  • Yara Zgheib

On Top of the Eiffel Tower

‘It happened in April, and took place on a day

So mild you’d say love purposely made it that way.’

- Victor Hugo, The Party at Therese’s

Photo by Rafael Kellermann Streit on Unsplash

A walking, hand-holding, kissing cliché. That is what we were; just two more lovers to add to the 250 million who had come here before us. Who had stood in this queue, as we were doing, for tickets to climb or ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower, gaze at Paris and at each other.

Sparkling lights.

‘The sun itself was our chandelier;’

20,000 lightbulbs in fact,

‘while the spring

Embroidered the lawn-‘

Not that, busy kissing, we noticed.

What a hashed, rehashed, and overhashed story. Unoriginal to the point that it can only be true: six years ago, we had a date at the Eiffel Tower.

When it was first revealed in 1889, Gustave Eiffel’s tower took its aghast public by storm. It was the world’s tallest, most imposing man-made structure. 7,500 tons of wrought iron, cut in 18,000 pieces, held by 2.5 million rivets, costing 1.5 million dollars.

It shocked and angered some, surprised and charmed others, left no one indifferent. Then the dust settled, the paint dried, the North winds blew the confetti away. Newspapers printed fresh headlines commuters read on la ligne 6 every day. From the train’s window, the Eiffel Tower faded into the landscape.

Habituation. Time and the human eye can do that to anything, even a sparkling view 1,710 steps over a city. Even the nervous thrill of a first date. The skipped heartbeat at the kiss. The giddy smile of disbelief at our luck as we both gazed at the lens.

Cliché. Cliché. Our camera flashed in synchrony with those of others who stood, like us, in that queue on that Thursday night. Same dim photo of the same moment. Our faces so out of focus as to be interchangeable with the hundreds of millions on all the infinite photographs taken here, in this position.

Nearby, a cart was selling Eiffel Tower replicas in different colours. Made in China, of course. And of course, we bought a small one in silver. It still stands proudly, six years later, on our sill, a testament to the most hashed, rehashed, and overhashed story. But ours.

To have been to the top of the Eiffel Tower. To have been to the top with you. To have reached it by running up 1,710 steps, stopping for kisses. To have been left out of breath by those instead of the actual climb. To have finally made it, you pulling me, and I you. To have made it, since then, this far.

To have seen that hashed, rehashed, overhashed view, but to have seen it with you. To have been two of 250 million lovers, but to have been those two, with you.

‘Nothing more. It was simple, beautiful. Now and then,’

Our picture still hangs on the fridge, six years old, our faces still out of focus. You have not changed. Nor have I. Nor we together, not in what really matters; we still hold hands and run up flights of stairs and still stop for long kissing bouts. I still get nervous on dates with you. You still take me on those. Friday nights at the movie theater, Saturday nights in a quaint Italian restaurant, always the same one where we order the same things.

We have grown up but not outgrown that story. I would not change a word of it:

‘It happened in April,’

on a night like this one, on top of the Eiffel Tower.

#writing #travel #culture #reflection