Last Thursday night I was feeling jumpy and restless. I tried watching some TV, then reading a book, but nothing would stick. So I dressed for a walk, careful to conceal my intention to exercise with a pair of loose rolled-up black jeans and cute canvas shoes. I hesitated, before leaving my book behind. It was a whopper of a book club read with a Friday deadline, but I didn’t feel like entering anyone else’s world.
I set off towards the river, drawn to water. Even my walk felt off. I kept changing my mind about which route to take, crossing the road back and forth, frustrated with myself. The frantic energy from my brain couldn’t be dispensed fast enough through my feet.
After forty-five minutes of erratic jolting around the city I came to a bridge across the Seine. The jumpy part of me said, “Come on! Keep moving, off you go!” Yet a small voice said, “Stay awhile.”
As I slowed to a stop, I fought the instinct to reach into my handbag and pull out my phone for a quick email and Facebook check, (my go-to crutch whenever I’m standing still, alone, anywhere).
Eyes closed against the glorious mid-evening glare I placed my hands out wide on the sandstone balustrade. First, I felt the relentless pulse of the traffic, then the softer rhythm of the barges on the river, then the quiet heartbeat of the city.
Beneath my hands the stone held history, the heat of the day, and me.
Years earlier a friend had given me a postcard (or perhaps I’d given it to her? The details are blurry…) of a girl standing on a bridge like mine, arms out wide above her head. And so I fought the urge to feel awkward or out of place, and I stood my ground, letting the sun and the wind, the day turned to night and the soul of the city restore me.
I wondered idly if the definition of peace wasn’t perhaps an old bridge, an average Thursday and Enrique Iglesias blasting in your ears?