Sometimes I like to imagine myself back in the year 2013.
I know it seems foolish and sentimental to some, this yearning for an old-fashioned, 21st century Paris—a Paris of asphalt roads and gas-powered engines, of dark clothes and books made of paper. But whenever I see those antique digital photos of the capital I’m instantly seduced by their charm and wonder what life was like back then. I run movies in my mind of old-time Parisians going about their daily lives: could they sense the importance of the era they lived in? Did the people of 2013 know how historically fantastic their Paris was compared to all the others?
As I write this in my room I hear the cathedral’s towers ringing out. They say the old bells inside them date from that period, having been installed to celebrate the 850th anniversary of the church. Think of that! All of the hundreds of years of history since then, set to the rhythms of those 10 pieces of cast metal. What I wouldn’t give to go back in time and hear them for the first time!
It would’ve been the early evening of a March 23rd, and I would’ve donned one of those quaint Parisian costumes and shuffled into the crowd with a tripod and one of the old video cameras of the time. My ears would’ve delighted in the very first peals of the bells as they mixed with the quirky sounds of 21st century French being spoken. The fanciful din of old ambulance sirens and car horns would’ve completed the scene and I would’ve stood there with my eyes closed, as an infinitely grateful time traveler, taking it all in. I’d be witnessing history.
That would’ve been a special moment. That would’ve been a good time to be alive in Paris. I wonder if those 2013 Parisians could sense it back then.