Wednesday, May 10, 2006

My arm is Aching

It is winter in Paris in early 2000. We take this day to walk the cold, cold air and visit the true tourist spots in this famous city. We line up with hundreds of others as the breeze rips through our insufficient clothing. There is a mist of moist cold enveloping us; our faces burn with it as we stamp our feet like horses, to be warm.
A mime has come by to entertain this unhappy queue, as we are waiting for access to the tower. My son is enthralled by him and walks nearer for a better look. The mime begins blowing up an invisible balloon; it stretches out in the air before him, my sons eyes widen as if he fears that it may burst. The mime checks the size of the balloon, it isn't quite long enough yet, it is a sausage balloon. He fills it some more, and then checks it again. Satisfied, he ties the end and then starts the intricate process of making the balloon into a dog. He makes the ties and checks it then continues, finishing by adding a piece of invisible string. Then proudly he hands his masterpiece to my patient boy. My son returns to us his eyes glistening with pride. He holds his prize aloft and smiles warmly at the admiring crowd.
We move slowly up the queue and finally after what has seemed like hours we take the stairs and then the lift to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Like cattle we are herded up and on and up. Finally we are there, the light mist blankets the city pink and white and pretty in this bright winter light. We gaze out across the miles, triumphant in having reached this height.
"Mummy, can you please hold this? My arm is aching." My son hands me his invisible balloon.

I dare not let it go.