Monday, January 30, 2012

A Letter to Sainte-Chapelle

Dear Sainte-Chapelle,

You jerk.

You do fine work, I’m not here to argue that.  You’re a true testament to Gothic architecture.  And your immense stained glass windows dazzle the eye with every color into which light can be broken.  Shards of gold, red and blue hail God Almighty from their station within your ever-splendid, ever-reaching upper chapel.

Seriously, though: you need an attitude adjustment.

I’m not going to get into who first irritated whom.  And I’m not going to drag gravity into this; he faces enough bad press without my relatively insignificant squabbles pointing a finger his way.  The fact is, one of us acted in excess of provocation, and it wasn’t me.

At most, I must have been mildly annoying.  There I was, teenaged American tourist, probably too disheveled for a place of solemn dedication, maybe a bit noisy.  And while no French person I met in Paris was thrilled about me, they never felt the need to whup my ass, either.  That was just you.  Aaaall you. 

You bully.

You could have calmly voiced your objection to any of my shortcomings, but no.  You resorted to violence.  You tripped me.  HARD.  And maybe you didn’t think of it, because it’s how you’re made, but for a fleshy mammal such as myself, falling down a stone staircase hurts.  A LOT.

So if you’re wondering why I didn’t just bounce back up, why I lie on the stairs whimpering while that girl from Atlanta literally walked over me, it’s because you used brute force against a smaller, more fragile creature.  Now don’t you feel dirty.

For the rest of my European adventures, it was impossible to forget you—mostly because my elbows had turned black from landing on them.  Not blue, not purple—BLACK.  And since that time, I have remembered you every time I’ve tentatively tread a stone staircase.  Or thought of Paris.  Or watched a nature documentary where the big bad python swallows whole the fluffy loveable bunny.

I want you to know that time heals all wounds.  For example, my elbows did eventually cease to be black.  As for the psychological scars you left me, they, too, will heal in time.  But for now, you’re still off my Christmas card list.

Truly resentful,

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