Thursday, March 10, 2011

and then we found the eiffel tower.

Listening To: Uberlin by REM
Watching: rain shadows dizzy-dance down the walls. And wondering: how shadows that look like tears can possibly make me so happy. I do heart rainy days.

Paris is always a good idea. - Audrey Hepburn

Today I'm thinking about The Eiffel Tower.

I like The Eiffel Tower because it looks like steel and lace.

Sometimes it looks like a needle, poking silver stars against the sky. Sometimes it looks like an iron corset (Fact: The Eiffel Tower was steampunk before steampunk was cool). Sometimes it looks like a scrawny giant. Sometimes it looks like the skeleton of a castle.

And sometimes, The Eiffel Tower looks like thread:

That particular Eiffel Tower is Kristin's creation. Kristin, who blogs over at Sew Technicolor, has been a friend of ye olde blog since way back when I first started writing. She is a crazy-talented designer/seamstress/pattern-wizard. I've been thinking about her Eiffel Tower ever since she shared that picture over on her blog. You should take some time to sneak over to her Etsy store and look around. Cause she seriously has an eye for mixing prints. Some people do "vintage" and they seem to get lost in it. Know what I mean? But Kristin's work isn't that way. Her work is still whimsical and modern, more vintage-inspired. Her originality shines through. I'm particularly fond of her needle point.

(Note: You people are way too talented for your own good. I feel cool by association.)

I particularly adore Kristin's Eiffel Tower. I'm not necessarily a Francophile myself, but I think there's something hard-wired in a girl's heart about loving The Eiffel Tower. And this girl - the girl typing this post (who is presently wearing yoga pants I have yet to ever do yoga in) (because yoga bores me out of my ever loving mind) - likes The Eiffel Tower because it is girly and tough.

Like, tattoo-tough.

I'm too much of a wimp to ever get a tattoo (not b/c of the pain ... but because I can't imagine ever being decisive enough to pick one thing I wanted permanently inked on my person), but if I did ... I would consider getting a small Eiffel Tower on my wrist. Either that, or the word "love." But that's kind of overdone now. So maybe either The Eiffel Tower or the Auryn from Neverending Story. *waves nerd flag proudly in the air*

I think The Eiffel Tower is architecture's most notorious ink blot: a castle or a cage depending on how you see it. Or where you are when you see it.

When I see The Eiffel Tower, I think about Ernest Hemingway, about how he called Paris "a movable feast." I'm not sure what he meant by that, exactly, but my understanding is that you take Paris with you when you leave ... whether or not you want to. (Maybe Paris was his Sam's Town. Everybody needs a Sam's Town.)

And. When I see the Eiffel Tower, the non-literary, chick-flick-loving, far-yonder-corner of my brain will forever associate it with Luc and Kate.

There's this movie I like a
lot (that nobody has ever heard of) - a film that came out in the 90's called French Kiss - starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline.

(I seriously came [---] that close to typing "Kevin Federline" - ha.)Meg's character, Kate, is in France trying to hunt down her smarmy fiancee (who has fallen in love with another woman) and win him back. The only person who can help her is a thief named Luc, whom she meets on the plane (not knowing he's a thief). Luc is a trouble-maker. He is also funny and charming and gypsy-handsome and troublesome for all those reasons. Kate is buttoned up. She hates to fly. Hates adventure. Hates Luc.

Then she starts to hate him less.

Then way less ...

Luc is one of the very best parts of the movie, because he totally has a little something I call: "The Darcy-Factor."

Explaining: When I first watched Pride & Prejudice, I thought ... "That's Mr. Darcy?" I didn't get it AT FIRST. Were you that way? Because I'm pretty sure Jane Austen wanted us to be that way. I'm pretty sure she was going for the very-much-opposite of love at first sight. And it was the same way, for me, when I saw Luc in French Kiss. Initially, I thought ... really? That's the love interest?! She's going to fall for Luc?

I think I was prejudiced against the heavy mustache. I like facial hair on a guy - I like it way to the much if the guy can rock it. But Luc's stache is intense. That's got to be like kissing a bristle-brush.

Where was I?


Their relationship is the very best part of the movie. Because as she falls for Luc, you fall for Luc. And then, as you watch, you get all gushy like, "Fall for Luc! Fall for LUC!!!" Luc is entirely lovable.

Luc is hilarious and confident and tres handsome and their chemistry makes for a fab movie. Kate had zero chemistry with Charlie, the smarmy jerkbag two-timing fiancee. But Kate had spades of chemistry with Luc the thief. They had a Beatrice/Benedict thing happening. The snarky sparring was only a front for the falling-in-loving. [Due to the wide age span on here, I feel like I should mention the fact that French Kiss has some adult content. I think it's PG-13 ... but I don't remember. Skip it if you're in middle school. You wouldn't be into it anyway.]

Which brings me back to The Eiffel Tower.

Throughout the film, Kate wants to see The Eiffel Tower because that's the only Parisian thing she knows anything about. And she keeps missing it. She's on a train. You see it out the window, but Kate never looks. She's walking down a street, arguing with Luc. The Eiffel Tower rises up behind the buildings. But Kate doesn't glance back. I really like that aspect of the story. I like it because Kate learns to love a thousand other things about Paris and France besides The Eiffel Tower.

I have decided that is always the best kind of story: when you set your heart for one particular something - one person, one sight, one trip, one goal, one job, one life that you've had plotted out since you were the seasoned age of ten - and then suddenly you wake up to everything else happening along the way.

You go searching for The Eiffel Tower. But you start to realize the searching part is pretty darn incredible too. You decide maybe it's time to start showing up for the life already in progress.

falling snow,
falling stars,
chance meetings,
second chances,
gum wrappers,
The Eiffel Tower.

Sunrise. Sunset. They're all beginnings, if you want them to be.

And thus ... I like The Eiffel Tower. I like the fancy one made of steel and lace and the subtle one made of thread and imagination. (Also, the imaginary tattoo-one that I'll never be brave enough to get.) The Eiffel Tower makes me think about all the places I've stitched against my heart over the years: rainy day runs through Trafalgar Square, sunrise on the farm, stars over Stratford, sunset on Prince Edward Island, sun-shadows reaching through the carport at my grandparents' house. There are dozens of other places like that, places my heart pulls me back to, usually when I'm least expecting it.

They're all my movable feasts.

I've decided that the magic I felt in those moments had very little to do with the place. London rocks my soul. But how could London not rock a person's soul? My mountains steady my heart. But mountains do that for lots of people. I can't decide what it is about those places that gets caught up inside me. Maybe those places changed me. Maybe I was very aware of how much I was changing while I was there. Maybe it's the peaceful-easy feeling that pulls me back.

Maybe those are the places where I let my heart unravel, or I dared to be a much braver version of myself. I wrote my best stories there. I shared what I wrote there. I caught a fish the size of a school bus. I watched the sun go down and I made a vow to never, ever, ever give up. I danced in the park, with a million other people that I'll never see again (while fireworks shattered the night sky), and screamed the lyrics of "Hey Jude" until I lost my voice.
Take a sad song ... and make it better. (I was here. Can you find spot me in the crowd? ; )

Those are the places where - for one little slip of time - I wasn't afraid to fall in love or fall out of love or get lost on purpose. Sometimes, when you get lost on purpose, you get lucky enough to get caught up in an adventure that is quite magical.

That's why I like the idea of an Eiffel Tower tattoo: because I think it would be cool to look at my wrist, and see The Eiffel Tower, and then look around and remember the good that's already all around me. That today is the day to live it up. I want to dance this one out. I want to make a memory that sticks with me, long after the sun sets.

I want to remember that the end of the story won't be as good if I don't fill in the middle with something amazing.

I hope you go searching for The Eiffel Tower today. I hope you find something better along the way.

Here's my question for you fine folks: Is there a place you often find your thoughts wondering back to? What city (or small town) (or theme park) is your "moveable feast?" Would love to hear about it in the comments. Happy Weekending to you!


  1. My moveable feast is, sometimes, Paris.

    More often it's a little village in the wealthy part of the Netherlands. More specifically, it's cobblestone streets leading to the market. The train station and the market place are both right there. And there are rows and rows of fresh cut flowers, cheaper than you could imagine. Down the street a little ways is a Turkish restaurant with the best food.

    My moveable feast is that time of the year when Hilversum because one big concert. It was called Hilversum Alive; bands would set up outside everywhere throughout the city. Music would play all night long, shaking the streets.

    My moveable feast is a little dusty ground floor apartment in the Middle East. I was coming home from a two day archeological dig. My guy friend was carrying my suitcase a few feet behind me. I pulled open the huge heavy door and went inside. I heard little feet slapping the floor and Gabriel, age five, came careening around the corner. He tackled into me and grabbed me tight around the waist and told me, "Katie, I missed you."

    This post is beautiful, Natalie.

  2. Oh goodness, I always daydream of Italy. I just love the art and culture and just... everything! The food would be amazing as all get out and I'd come back 10 pounds heavier... yay.

    But places where I was jus tin awe or wonder, was proably Rock the Universe at Universal 2 years ago. Waiting in those horrible lines, but having EVERYONE in line know the words to Jesus Freak and seeing it at the top of your lungs, walking bye random people and they yell, 'Do you love Jesus?! Cause I sure do!" And then being in the crowd, having everyone around you pumped up and ready for whoever was about to come out. Feeling awesome!! Then, walking away from that stage and down away from everybody and hearing them singing and not the artist who was supossed to be heard. It was magical to me for some reason.

    Also, another great time was when I saw my buddy after 3 years. I was just walking out of the movie theater, in a state I didn't live in, but he did, and I just saw him and I wans't sure if it every was his, but then he saw me and I just stopped. I was so happy! It took everything fo rme not to run to him haha! mom would of died.

    Magical moments happen at the weirdest times for me, but hey, I love the spontaneous life. I was to just get in my truck (when I get one) and drive, not knowing where I'm going to end up or who I'm going to meet. I might grab a friend and go too, because 2 is better than 1, right :) Maybe I'll stop and pick you up!!!!

  3. Oh your blog posts just get better and better. I love how you can write about one thing for so long. :)

    My number one magical place has to be London. We went a few years ago for 10 days and I loved it. I really want to study abroad there in college. I feel like its me in city form. It makes my heart happy to think about it. You are so lucky that you went to that concert! (Haven't spotted you yet but still looking....)

    My other magical place would be Fort Collins, Colorado. We've gone there every other year my whole life for our Campus Crusade conferences. It's my home away from home. So many amazing memories have been there! I get teary-eyes when I think about it too long.

    My third magical place is probably somewhere that I've never been, or maybe doesn't exist, but it's there in my mind. A little old Southern town. The kind with a general store. The king with a little old creek and a rope swing. The kind where you can sit on a porch for hours, sipping on a coke and soaking up the sun and just being. Someday I want to find that place.

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts and words!

    Oh and Paris ain't so bad either :)

  4. I forgot to add something... :)

    I think one of my favorite magical places has to be people, if that makes any sense. Recently I was thinking about some old friends who moved away from Italy. We both started out here together. They made Italy livable. And then they left. I realized that when I think of them, and all the other special people in my life, I get homesick because they are my home. They are my moveable feast.

  5. For as long as I can remember, London has been my place. I am obsessed to the point of annoying with it. I have a LONDON travel book that I constantly read through, searching out cool theaters, bookstores, landmarks, and restaurants. I love the accents, the edginess, the history, and the art that flows out of London and through it. If there is anywhere in the world that I would like to go, live, or spend a lengthy amount of time, it would be London. :)

    Next on the list is Paris, then Mumbai. :)

    (Lol. I almost posted the word verification word right here.)

  6. I just loved that post! Especially all of the adorable pictures. :) Thanks Natalie!

  7. Paris & Hawaii!
    I LOVE the Eiffel tower! I have an Eiffel tower corner in my room :) I even have a 3 ft tall steel statue of it

  8. My moveable feast is undoubtedly New York City. I've never even been there and I'm so in love with that place it hurts sometimes.

    Also! "Sometimes, when you get lost on purpose, you get lucky enough to get caught up in an adventure that is quite magical." This is my new favorite quote. Thank you muchly.

  9. Being Greek I've always dreamt of Greece - Athens, Santorini, etc. Seeing the olive trees and the grape leaves. Growing up I always did elementary school projects on Greece. That's the place where my heart is although I've never been there.

    And then on days when I wish I could just escape and go where I actually left my heart, I imagine myself riding again in a rickshaw in the middle of nowhere India in crazy traffic scared that I'm about to lose my life. Very fond memories there but I think it's the people and experiences that make them.

    So honestly, anywhere with the ones I love and who can make me laugh is a great place to be :)

  10. I heart this post so much, Nat! Tattoos, traveling, movable're speaking my love languages. First, I think you should get a tattoo! The Eiffel Tower on your wrist would be original and meaningful. I think you're more decisive than you realize:)

    Second, totally have watched French Kiss a bunch of times and love it. Luc completely grows on you (though I must note that I always liked Mr. Darcy but I can see where you're coming from.)

    Third, I have many places that I love but Nashville has had a special place in my heart since I visited my best friend and her husband almost 7 years ago. It's little wonder that I ended up moving here!

  11. Love this post. Seeing the Eiffel Tower in real life is on The Bucket List, hopefully floating somewhere at the top of said bucket. (I like to think that means it will happen sooner rather than later!)

    Have you read ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS? I think you'd like it. It made me ache for Paris just a little more than I usually do. :)

  12. Natalie, I always get so excited when I see that you've put up a new post, but this one just completely made my day. Thank you so much for your kind words. :)

    I want so badly to see the Eiffel Tower in person. Sometimes I think it's seen as cliche, but it is so gorgeous! I can't believe that when it was first built, most of the people of France thought it was a tacky monstrosity (or so I've read). I've been really into France lately (the word Francophile makes me laugh-when you say it out loud, it reminds me of Sinatra and Frankenstein)...watching movies about it and reading about it (I'm reading "A Year in Provence" now).

    I think England/the UK would be my moveable feast, if I should ever go. Practically all of my favorite authors are from the UK (Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, Beatrix Potter, J.K. Rowling, Lewis Carroll, Roald Dahl, etc.), so I can think of nothing better than visiting the places that inspired them. I want to see Miss Austen's writing desk, visit the pub where the Inklings met, and roam the moors. And, most importantly, I want to see a real castle.

    And now, I'm going to transition from literary giants to a theme park. :) I love Disney World. We've been there twice. I know it's so commercial and artificial. But I am a Disney nerd, and there's something so magical and nostalgic about being surrounded by references to my beloved movies and songs. Plus, even though it's fake, it's like a perfect little world. Everything is clean and cheerful and happy. Your washclothes are folded into little animals, the bathrooms are spotless, and you can watch fireworks above a fairy tale castle (made out of steel and concrete, but still...). It's nice to escape to that for a week or so. Although reality starts to sink in when you're dodging fiesty folk in Hover Rounds or hearing whiny children in gift shops.

    Then there are the Florida Keys. We went there the year after a Disney World trip, and it was the exact opposite in every way. Completely relaxing. I remember laying on a beach chair in the shade for hours, reading a Frank Peretti book. Then there were the three pelicans at our hotel that would try vainly to fly against the strong wind, resulting in them doing a lot of work and getting nowhere. There was a park right next to the hotel where we watched the sunset over the water. We also went snorkeling and had schools of fish bump into us, had to say random words to shop owners in Key West who were fascinated with the way we spoke, avoided alligators on walking trails, stalked Key deer (miniature versions of regular deer), and ate a massive pizza at a little place called the No Name Pub where there are thousands of vandalized dollar bills stapled to the walls and ceiling. It was lovely.

    I don't think it's possible for me to leave you a normal-sized comment here. Sorry. :)


  13. sadly i've never really been anywhere, which i hate. i've been to 18 states, lived in six but that's it. my family isn't into travel, i crave it. my place is lake charles LA i lived there as a toddler, a little kid. it was the magical.
    i loved this post because i am OBSESSED with the eiffel tower. seriously. ask any of my friends. i have three eiffel towers ranging from two inches, 18 inches, and two and half feet. i have paris boxes and a notebooks, tower earrings, everything. i love it. someday i'll se it and i'll read under it and take a picture.

  14. My many moveable feasts consist more of moments than super-special places really. They just so happen to include:

    -Scenes of Strawberry Festivals old: Every year my tiny town of like less than 2,000 where everybody knows everybody has a parade/peagant/carnival that made my heart soar as a little girl{and still does}, my mind option flashes back to that place, my comfort zone.

    -Snipits from a million and one Gatlinburg weekends: Oh, how I love it there :) I see myself as a child, amazed by everything I saw. Pick-up sticks in the cabbin. The unicorns the "Hotel-Fairy" left for me and my sisters. How we got the whole upstairs to ourselves. The aquauriam, the ski lift, the "live black bears", the horsebackriding, the hiking, the waterfall at the top of the hiking, the old arcade we all loved so much, Dollywood, The Dixie Stampede,The Comedy Barn, the old, cheap bookstore, everything about that place make my heart smile.

    -Panama City memories: I have about as many of these as the Gatlinburg ones :) 13 weeks worth of memories over the years. Gulf World, Bikini Bobs, Pinapple Willies, ShipWreck Island, Teen Night at Club Lavela, Elvis show, so, so many more.

    -Gulf Shores: This one was so dramatic and fabulous and heartbreaking and joy-building. I went here with my youth group. Saw souls saved and ate camp food. Ping pong. Lambert's. Frog legs. Sailboat rides and jumping off. Ziplines. Waterslides. Camp fires. Beaches. Strip malls. Tears. Great company, amazing relationships, and changed hearts.

    -The woods behind my house: Oh, the greatness of them. The briers and the blackberrries, Forwheeler rides and beehives. Brier tracks through my feet. Old moonshine bottles. The lake back there. it is so bestiful and so available.

    -The spot at the end of my driveway: The place that I snuck out to at the naive and somewhat stupid age of thirteen, to meet a boy, a boy I've grown to love with all my heart, a boy who broke my heart into a million pieces while his shattered too. A boy I STILL think about everyday, years later. A boy I'd like to see again. A boy who kissed me for the very first time in that driveway, after he won a football game, under the cover of midnight, in the chill of mid-September air. A very swoon-worthy, fit for a romantic comedy moment really.

  15. Whoa...most people left paragraphs upon paragraphs of comments here. I feel like I'm underdressed or something.

    I loved that first Eiffel Tower and balloons picture! I immediately saved it to my computer. Just so adorable...

    YOU'RE AN AUTHOR?!?! OMG!!!!! See, I want to be an author at heart. Unfortunately, many people see my straight-A+ report card and say I could be so many things beyond writing books. And they say 'writing books' in such a disgusted way that it gets me mad.

    But still, I don't want to sell my self short, you know? If I could actually become a millionare neurologist, then I want to become a millionare neurologist! But...I don't know. Writing's one of my passion...and science is one of my natural skills (As is writing, but still). Any advice?

    (If you advice, please comment with it on my blog)

    Thanks. I know it was a pain to be swallowed in my own self-pity. But I'm stressing out.


    I like your blog. Did I say that before? Oh, well here it is again: I like your blog.

    (GASP! I have PARAGRAPHS!)

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  17. So, Paris being a movable feast? I so get that. I got to spend a few days there a couple summer's ago...and it's so true. And the Eiffel Tower, really is amazing. Anyway, just wanted to say that your post made my heart tighten up and feel Parisian again. Me & France? Love at first sight<3

    Great post, as usual (=


  18. I just found your blog after searching for quotes about the Eiffel and love what you've written - you're a fabulous writer & I'm so happy I found your blog! Are you on Twitter?