Once upon a time, I was 18 and brave! Full of life, carefree, spontaneous, shy and happy! In a car, sitting in the passenger seat, “Belle- from Notre Dame De Paris” on full volume…. She is driving and we are both singing! My CD…. her car! And the world seemed so magical! When I say magical, I don’t mean to use it as a metaphor! I mean really magical! Nothing else existed! Just me, her and “Notre dame de paris”! Rainy evenings, warm coats and furry hats! Sipping our hot chocolates while discussing why did “Edith Piaf” ever sing “Non Je Ne Regrette Rien- No I regret nothing!”
She was beautiful, always elegant and fancy! A real Lady…. And boy did I love her! She would tell me to be free, happy and to always stay true to myself. She would tell me to dress like a lady and always keep a smile on, even if my heart was bleeding! She would tell me to keep my head high because I was young and sweet! She would tell me to love….! She would beg me to love! Who is/was she, you wonder? She was my hero! My “what I want to be when I grow up”, she was my aunt!
You see, most of us have aunts and you would think what’s so special about this one? Let me drag you a little deeper to a story dated a little more than a decade ago….Where a rebellious teenager, stubborn and hot tempered (hypothetically me) refuses to follow, and wants only to lead! Why wouldn’t she? She just embarked in a new chapter of her life! She started college… The first step toward a brilliant future, that she had meticulously planned for every first few hours of the night and until dawn, every single night of the previous three years, while she was busting her butt off studying!
I was the only girl in a classroom filled with boys. My father thought I was brave as a man… It was a world meant to be for men! So I automatically embraced the notion imposed on me, and thought women were useless and why should I ever take advices from them…. Little did I know! I so wish I could pull my old self’s ears right now and say: “How dare you!”
I lived with her, and almost effortlessly, she proved me wrong! Women were everything everywhere to everyone!
Every time I took snacks to her room, a little past midnight, sat in her bed with her. She would put music on … Old French songs: Julio Iglecias, Joe Dassin, Jack brel, Enrico Macias ….She then starts telling me her stories, her adventures, her secretes and her thoughts! We talk freely! Never afraid of being judged! We go back to a million years ago, where we were all the same! Using leaves to cover our insecurities. Worrying only about food and shelter! She smiles… She uses big words …. She smells sweet… And I tell myself: “I wanna be her when I grow up”.
I learnt from these little late night dates what I have never learnt in my whole life!
A little more than 10 years have passed, sadly I didn’t grow up to be her…. I can never be as light as she was-Even though she was in her fifties when I was only 18, I never felt it! To me she was always young and restless!- But I have these memories that I hold on to and no one can ever take them away!
Sometimes I forget to smile, I forget to put lipstick on, I forget to put both my hands on the steering wheel, I forget to sing… Then one day I get into my car, put that same CD on- yes, the same one we listened to 10 years ago, it gracefully survived, just like I did. And I take a long drive. I close my eyes- when the traffic lights are red- I take a deep breath and the magic comes back! I sing loud, I smell her sweet scent in the air and miraculously I become 18 again! I hear her again telling me all about: Parole Parole.., La Vie En Rose…., La Femme De Mon Ami..!
And once I get my satisfying dose of magic, I hold that CD so tight and carefully place it inside its cover, as if it was a precious jewel- and to me it is! I keep it for my next wake up call, for the next time I feel the magic slipping through my fingers like sand, for the next time I no longer smell her sweet scent around me.
She taught me that life can be sweet and that magic does exist! I wish I told her just that! I wish I told her that she was my muse, and still is! I wish I could tell her how right she was… That Love is everything just as she said it was!
Now, 10 years later, she is still teaching me life lessons….! To tell the special people in your life that you love them and you deeply care about them, every time they leave seems silly, but what if that was the last time you ever get a chance to do it? Tell them they were right when they are! Tell them you like the colour of their eyes, the way they make french fries, the way they hold the pen, the way they walk..! Tell them the silliest things… Because now you can… Tomorrow you may not be able to…..