Both Xi Men and Xiao You stood at the crowded outdoor observation of Eiffel Tower, looking at the direction of where the sun sets.
Xiao You lifted her head up to look at the sky for a couple of times.
Xi Men notices it, but he didn’t ask her why.
“I guess… the sunset won’t be nice today,” Xiao You said.
Xi Men turned to look at Xiao You upon hearing it.
“Only clear blue sky and no clouds…” she said as she remained looking at the sky.
Xi Men lifted his head up to look at the sky as she mentioned, but the sky is not as she had described.
It is not clear blue sky.
It is cloudy.
It is overcast.
“…will allow you to see nice sunset with nice colors…” she said.
He understood what kind of images she is waiting for.
“Oh well,” she said with a sigh.
He knew she comes up to Eiffel Tower to see sunset, and to be greeted with this sky… he hates to disappoint her. “Who knows if the sky will clear up later…” he said.
She smirked. “All of a sudden?”
He smiled. “Maybe,”
Both of them looked towards the direction of the sun sets.
“If it were to happen… it should have… a couple of minutes ago. Because, the sun is setting right now,” Xiao You said.
Xi Men raised his eyes up to look at the sky again.
For the next few minutes, they didn’t talk to each other as they looked out to the sky.
There isn’t any nice color in the sky when the sun sets.
The sky just slowly went dark as the sun goes down.
Xi Men slowly turned his head to look at Xiao You.
“The sun…” Xi Men uttered.
“Has set,” Xiao You happened to continue for Xi Men.
Xi Men smiled briefly. “Yeah…”
Xiao You took a deep breath. “I know,” she said. “It wasn’t that nice,” she turned and looked at him.
He smiled faintly, “I am sorry about that,”
“Hey, it wasn’t your fault,” she said. “You don’t control the sky or the weather. So it isn’t your fault,”
He smiled briefly. “I saw how much you wanted to see the nice sunset. So… I wish that… you will get your nice sunset… I hope that there will be clear blue sky in one of these days in Paris,”
She smiled. “I hope so too,”
A sudden gust of wind blew over Eiffel Tower, making hair and light clothing flies.
People squints their eyes as the wind blew over their face and their eyes.
The strong gust of wind also causes mild shakes to the Eiffel Tower; it shakes due to its building material.
“Whoa, that feels a bit scary,” Xiao You said, immediately grabbing Xi Men’s arm.
“Yes, but don’t worry. Eiffel Tower is pretty stable,” he smiled, holding her in return.
“I know,” she smiled. “They build this tower in 1889 and it was once classified as a very ugly monument in the city. They wanted to take it down… but thank goodness they didn’t. Now it is an icon,”
“To be honest, it is indeed ugly if you look at in terms of 1800s. But if we look at it today, this is simply phenomenal,” he smiled.
She looked at him and tilts her head. “Hmmm… I didn’t see that coming from you,”
He laughed. “Does it sound surprising for you?”
“I thought you aren’t interested,”
“I mentioned I have seen this tower a lot of times. But that doesn’t mean I am completely uninterested,”
As she remained tilting her head, she smiled, “So, you are saying… you are interested?”
“Umm. Not as an artistic person. Just from a neutral perspective,”
She smiled wider. “Alright,”
Another gust of wind came again.
“Oohh… that’s cold,” she said, rubbing her hands together.
He took her hands and he rubbed them for her, “You wanna go inside to the indoor observatory instead?”
“No, I want to be here,” she said, looking at him rubbing her hands for her.
“Don’t force yourself if you can’t, alright?”
“Okay,” she smiled. “Thanks… oh! I need to take photographs…” she said, retracting her hands from him and then dives her hand into her handbag.
“Yeah. I need to take it now before the sky went dark completely…” she said.
“Hmmm… okay,” he said.
And then she takes her smartphone out.
“Phone? I thought a camera…?” Xi Men asked.
“I forgot to bring my camera. I only remember about it 20 minutes after left my home for airport,” she sighed, swiping her phone to look for the camera application. “So I have to make do with this for the entire trip,”
“Oh,” he said.
“Do you mind to help take a photo of me?” she asked, passing the phone to him.
“Sure,” he took her phone.
“I probably need your help to take photos of me in this trip,” she said.
He smiled. “No problem,”
She then takes her position. With her back facing the view, she looked at Xi Men and then she smiled.
Xi Men saw her smile on the phone.
She is indeed… very pretty now.
So much prettier than he knew her 10 years ago.
“Alright… one, two…” he said, and snapped a photo of her.
“Thank you,” she said, taking a step forward, “Ah, do you want me to take a photo of you?”
“Myself… umm,” he started patting his jacket’s pockets to look for his smartphone.
“Or… do you want to take with me first?”
“Take with you? Using a smartphone?” he asked.
“Yeah… are you good with it?” she asked. “Just reposition the smartphone’s camera to face you…”
“Umm… I don’t know but I can try. I have never taken photos of myself like that…” he said, walking to her and stood next to her.
She chuckled. “If you can’t, let me do it,” she smiled, extending her hand.
“Let me try first. It shouldn’t be tough for me,” he said, looking at her phone and press around in the application. “I have seen people taking photos of themselves like that… all the time. Even Mei Zhuo does this with Xiao Qiao,”
She laughed again.
She looked at him pressing around in the phone. His style is the exploring type, not the type that couldn’t find something on a different phone brands. It looks like he knows how to use this phone.
“Hmmm… you know the functions, eh…? Are you using a phone from the same brand as I do?” she asked, stood pretty close to him.
“I am using exactly this same model too,” he smiled.
“Oh?” she asked. “Really?”
“I like its sleek look and functionalities the moment I play with it the first time in the store. So I get it without hesitation,” he said.
“Ah, I like it since I first saw it too…” she said.
He smiled. “Great minds think alike,” he murmured.
She heard it, and is slightly surprised.
Unaware that Xiao You heard it, Xi Men raised the phone up. “Let’s take a photo together,”
“Alright,” she said, looking at the phone now.
He tilts his head over to her direction and she tilts her head over to his direction.
He uttered, “Ready? One… two…”
They both smiled and he snapped a photo of them.
He passes the phone to her and she viewed the photos.
“Nice!” she said. “Now, I’ll take a photo of you…” she moves away.
“Use my phone…” he said, diving his hand into his jacket.
“It is okay. I can take with this first. And then I’ll send it to you later,” she said.
“Oh. Alright,” he said, retracting his hand from his jacket.
He then smiled as she snapped a photo of him.
The sky has gone completely dark in mere minutes.
Thanks to her beige trench coat, it protects Xiao You from freezing up in this temperature so she can stay at the outdoor observation for such a long time.
They walked around the outdoor observation deck of the tower to have a 360 degrees view of Paris; or rather, she walked, and he followed.
After staying at the outdoor observation for the next 15 minutes, Xiao You decided to go into the indoor observation deck, which, Xi Men also followed.
“Still so crowded…” Xi Men said, “And it seems like even more people now,” he looked around the indoor observation deck.
“I think they wanted to go to the outdoor, but since it is cold, they stood here to escape the cold,” she said.
“Maybe you are right,” he said.
“Do you want to go off already?” she asked, putting her hands into her jacket’s pocket.
“I don’t mind. I will follow your lead,” he said. “If you want to stay around, you should. We took a lot of time and effort to come up here so it won’t make sense if you took hours to come up here only to stay for a brief while,”
She smiled. “I know,” she turned to look at the view from the indoor observation deck.
“But if you want to come over again one of these days, I am okay. And, I see the convenience in booking the timeslot from their website so you gotta let me know first…” he said. “I wouldn’t want to line up for 2 hours…”
“Nah. I am content with this. I have other places to go on the other days,” she took a deep breath.
He looked at her with a brief smile on his face, before he also turned to look at the view. “Alright…”
“And you are right. I should stay around. I have no plans on going anywhere else today other than Eiffel Tower. So I can spend as long as I could here. I won’t come back to this observation deck here anymore,” she adds. “It takes a lot of time to do just that,”
He just smiled.
She took a deep breath and she smiled as she looked out to the view of the city that is slowly brightening up with lights as the sun sets.
It is close to 6.30pm when Xiao You decided to leave the famous tower, and it took them approximately of only 20 minutes to go down to the Ground level from Level 2.
“Are you hungry?” Xi Men asked.
Xiao You turned to look at him. “No, I am not. Are you?”
“No, I am okay,” he said.
She just smiled as she clasped her hands together.
“Are you tired?” he asked.
“Slightly,” she said. “Are you tired?” she asked back.
“I am fine. The nap before we come out helps,” he smiled.
“I do agree,” she said, as they walked, heading back to Place du Trocadéro, which is located opposite of Eiffel Tower.
Since this place offers a nice and perfect view of Eiffel Tower, a lot of people heads there to take photographs of Eiffel Tower; day and night.
The Eiffel Tower is now lighted up.
Xiao You and Xi Men stood at Place du Trocadéro as she looked at the lighted up tower.
“Wow,” she smiled as she looked at it.
Xi Men looked at Xiao You before he turned to look at the Eiffel Tower.
“This is so beautiful,” she said.
Xi Men smiled.
Xiao You turned to look at Xi Men, “Don’t you think so?”
Xi Men then turned to look at Xiao You. “Remember I have told you… I have seen this tower a number of times?”
“So… it is beautiful but… not specifically spectacular to me,”
“Oh,” she replied, and then she looked at the tower again, slightly disappointed with his answer.
They are not going to share the same impressions about a particular object or sceneries it seems.
And it looks like this will happen repeatedly over the next few days for the entire trip.
Xi Men heard the disappointed ‘oh’ she gave him, and he slowly turned his head to look at her.
Did he just imply something he didn’t meant to, again?
“Hmmm…” Xi Men moved closer, and puts his arm over her shoulder. “Why not, you tell me why you, or what you are thinking about the tower? So… maybe I can relate to that?”
Unperturbed by the arm over her shoulder, she remained looking at the tower. “I think that might be very hard for you, since you have already seen this a couple of times,”
“More than a couple actually…”
Hearing that, her eyes strayed for a moment.
“But you can try me,” he insisted. “Persuade me,”
She took a deep breath and she turned to look at him. “Really?”
“Yeah. I want to know how you feel or think,”
“I’ve told you it is beautiful. But you said it is not spectacular,” she said, straightening her head again.
Now it is his turn to feel disappointed with her answer. Although that is really the answers they both had said earlier, he really wants to do something so that they don’t feel so distanced with each other.
Are they really going to spend a week like this?
Gazing at him before returning her sight to the tower again, “Hmmm. Well, like I have said before… this is my first time seeing the tower. And… when you have always seen something on a picture, and you get to see it right before you, you will feel… different,” she said.
“Different?” he asked as he looked at her, before he looked at the tower.
“Yes,” she said. “I can’t really use a good example to explain to you about how it felt,”
“Maybe…” she said.
“Hmm?” he looked at her.
“Maybe you should try to look at this as… possibly the one last time you will see it. Probably, you’ll never come here again to see them or experience them. Appreciate what it offers, what it shows you… and on top of all, this is not something you can do or build out of your bare hands,”
He stood straight by slight, retracting his hand from her shoulder, and then he lowered his head down to look at both his hands.
“If you couldn’t appreciate or overwhelmed by it like a first time visitor… then look at it and appreciate it from the way it has been done. On top of all, it is something special and specific for Paris, and you couldn’t see it anywhere else. And even if it exists somewhere else, nothing beats the original one,” she smiled.
He looked at her again, before he turned to look at the Eiffel Tower.
“There are times where you take things for granted. Sometimes there is a beautiful sea in front of you yet you felt that you’ve seen so much of it, and thus you stop appreciating it. Trust me, you’ll only appreciate it when you’ve moved to a city, or the sea had been polluted,” she said.
He stared at the Eiffel Tower.
“I am like this,” she said.
He turned to look at her, noticing she is looking at him.
“I took things for granted too. Since I am based at Toronto, I don’t appreciate what I see everyday. But I appreciate things I see from travelling. Now that I came to Paris, though I don’t know art, it doesn’t stop me from appreciating its beauty and what it has to offer. You don’t get to see this in the window of your home or office,” she smiled.
‘I only saw billboard out of my office,’ he thought to himself.
“Xi Men, I am sure you are the same. You won’t appreciate Taipei 101 as much as other visitors will do, because you see it everyday, but everyone else probably sees it only once in their life,” she said.
He smiled briefly at the thought of it.
“Mentioning of that… I haven’t see Taipei 101,” Xiao You said.
“Come to Taipei when you have the time,” he smiled.
She just smiled. She then tilted her head as she looked at the Eiffel Tower. “I am going to see and appreciate this city as a first time visitor. This may be my last visit as well…”
Weird. He was talking about Taipei but she doesn’t respond to it and instead change the topic.
“You may not be able to join me to appreciate this city as a first time visitor, you can start to appreciate this place as your potentially last visit. Since you have said that you came here a couple of times, there are chances that you won’t exactly pick this place as a travel destination in the future,” she said.
“Appreciate it as my last time…”
“You know, how art exists from centuries ago, how fortunate that it is well kept that you get to see it today,” she smiled as she looked at the Eiffel Tower.
“Yeah… that,” she said. “That’s all,”
He nodded briefly.
“I think you are right,” Xi Men said.
“About?” she asked as she turned to look at him.
“It is probably because I’ve seen this tower so many times, so I don’t appreciate its beauty,” Xi Men smiled.
She looked at him.
“Just like you have said. Since I have been to Paris a few times and I might not specifically pick this place as a vacation destination in the future, it means I may not come back here anymore. So, I’ll try to appreciate it like a final time visitor,” he looked at her.
A smile slowly formed on her face.
He returned his gaze to the Eiffel Tower again.
She smiled as she also looked at the Eiffel Tower.
Approximately a minute later,
“Hey, let’s go for dinner,” she said, grabbing his arm.
“Dinner? I thought you said you are not hungry yet?” he asked.
“It is 7pm now so by the time we go to some places for dinner, I think it is just about the right time to get hungry. And since it has been a tiring day due to the flights today, we should go back to hotel and call it a day after dinner,” she said.
“I am okay, Xiao You. We can still go around… the night is still young,”
“We have tomorrow and many days after that. It is going to be a long day tomorrow,” she said.
“Oh?” he lets her dragged him anyway.
“And don’t worry about Eiffel Tower. It won’t run away. And we may come back and stand here to visit it again these few days,” she smiled.
“You want to visit the tower again?”
“Just probably. And I mean from here at Trocadéro, not at the tower itself!” she said.
“Yes!” she said.
He chuckled in disbelief over how obsessed she is with the tower as both of them walked away.
“So where are we going for dinner?” he asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe some restaurants nearby?” she asked, pointing at a row of shops further from where they were walking.
Xi Men turned to look at where she pointed.
“I didn’t do my research on where to eat. I only researched on what to eat,” she said. “So, if you know where to eat, you can take the lead,”
He laughed. “No, I don’t either, we can eat whichever place you want to…”
“AH! I just remembered. Latin Quarter!” she interrupted and said.
She interrupts him again. “But that is quite a distance…”
“Latin Quarter is a place in Paris. Is there a specific restaurant there or…?”
“I read a lot about it. There are a lot of restaurants at Latin Quarter… and the price is quite affordable and nice,” she said.
“Affordable and nice…?”
Even though he just repeated the word ‘affordable’ after her, she feels she shouldn’t have said that word and it is like a forbidden word – since he is the rich one here.
“Let’s not talk about the price,” she quickly said, before he said something she didn’t want to hear.
He looked at her. He had no intention to ask her if she meant cheap. He actually is more interested with the word ‘nice’.
But since she said so… he didn’t plan to ask further.
“Umm…” he looked at her. “Where do you want to go…?”
She pressed her lips together as she thinks about it.
“I don’t mind if you want to go to Latin Quarter,” he smiled, looking at her, seemingly undecided.
“Hmmm…” she said.
He waited for her to make up her mind.
“Nevermind, let’s just go for one of the restaurants here. We will go to Latin Quarter one of these days for dinner,” she smiled as she grabbed his hand, and pulled him.
“But why? We can go there, really,”
“Let’s just say, if we eat here, we can go back and rest earlier,” she said.
He looked at her as he took slow steps while being dragged by her, “Oh,” he said. “You really want to eat somewhere here?” he asked.
“Now it sounds like you are the one that wants to go to Latin Quarter,” she said, looking at him.
“I didn’t want you to settle with second choice,” he said.
“Well… we might end up with Latin Quarter for few dinners, you know,” she said.
“As long as it is nice, it is fine with me,” he smiled.
She smiled. “Nah, let’s just eat here,”
“Alright,” he smiled.