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••• The International Writers Magazine - 24 Years on-line - Travel

The Iron Lady and the Violin
• Audrey Kelly
Music on the streets of Paris

Eiffel Tower

In the distance, we hear the music. The soft, rhythmic sounds of the violin cascades through the courtyard, filling the air with delicate melodic waves as we gaze at the Eiffel Tower’s first glimmer of the night.

Our last stop on our last day in Paris. The tour guides, consisting of the teachers at my high school, decide this would be our last destination. They want us to witness this moment, the moment where the world goes silent as The Iron Lady lights up the city like a lone firefly in a dark wood.

And for the five minutes of every hour where this happens – from dusk to midnight -- that “A” shaped tower is the one thing that matters. A gravitational pull that you can’t escape. Here I am, in a dream-like trance with doe-like eyes which I strive to keep open so as not to miss a single twinkle.

After enough time where the music in the distance doesn’t stop, my curious eyes seek out the music's origins, yearning to locate it. Looking from the balcony, my two friends and I discover the source: a single man, eyes closed in concentration as he plays, open violin case in front of him with loose change tossed in from passersby.

It comes naturally to him, the violin. The feeling radiates deeply from his chest as he contorts his torso and back to each elongated note, the music being pulled from within.
Violinist in Paris

He is below the balcony, in a little courtyard called Trocadero, known for its gardens, fountains, and one-of-a-kind view of the Eiffel tower. A few tourists have stopped to listen to the man with the violin, and as the romantic ballad continues, one man reaches out his hand to his partner, pulling her into him with eagerness in his eyes. Taking center stage, the two waltz as one, oblivious to the audience around them. With each spin, her smile grows wider and wider as the backdrop of the twinkling tower spotlights them, shining down on the couple as they become one. They do not once pull away from each other's eyes.

And not long after that, the remaining lovers of Trocadero glide onto the makeshift ballroom floor.

The summer air is calm and light, a slight breeze caresses the women’s skirts, flowing more heavenly as they spin. Dipping and twirling and leaping and gliding.

And all we little sixteen-year old’s can do is stare at this unexpected show of love, wishing to be a part of it. So, that's what we do.

One of my two companions takes our hands, leading us both onto the dance floor. The elegant melody cascades over a dozen couples, including our trifecta, who dance in perfect unison and perfect discord, swaying as the music bids. Echoes of laughter and outcries of joy accompany the sounds of the man and his violin as the dancers embody an oil painting sold by the street artists at markets along the Seine.

 An impromptu display of the love humans have for one another. An urge to be spontaneous and childlike. All under the kind eyes of the tower glistening in the distance.

It didn't matter that the people in the courtyard weren’t speaking the same language: love can be, quite simply, a connection. And on that June night, the music connected us as one.

I look over at the man with the violin, his eyes still remain shut. A smile on his face. A smile of joy or pride or maybe just the extra dollars added to his case.  But a smile, nonetheless. That night, he changed our lives, and we had changed his, too.

Our teachers call out a ten-minute warning. Then, we shuffle back to our hotel, saying goodbye to this place. This moment.

After giving each other looks of awe, sorrow, and acceptance, we drag our feet back up to the balcony to watch the final show the Eiffel tower puts on in our presence. As we stand there in silence, trying to memorize every detail from the smell of the pâtisserie that wafts over us from the breeze to the carved names in the balcony’s concrete corners, each of us rests our heads on the other, taking in the image of The Iron Lady.           

Audrey is a communications major and writing, rhetoric, and publication minor, I am a sophomore at The College of Charleston.

© Audrey Kelly April 2023

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