Vivaldi! Bach! Albinoni! Shubert! Barber! ... Where, where? The posters are all over Paris and the thought of listening to the Baroque masters in the heart of Paris tingles within me. The bombastic and yet all knowing Concierge at the Hotel Bel-Ami tells me: "Madame, c'est a la Saint Chapelle"....
OH MY GOD... The same Sainte Chapelle that we studied in school? the Crown Jewel of the French Gothic Era? Situated where else than in the Palais de Justice, where Justice a la Francaise has been meted out at this site since the medieval times.
The heat in Paris is stifling in the middle of July. And yet, I will not pass up the opportunity to drink a glass of wine before going into the Concert. We grab a table on the sidewalk of Brasserie Les Deux Palais, and with delicious anticipation of my baroque experience, I let the the wine seduce my taste buds.
From the sixteenth century to the French Revolution, Le Palais De Justice was the seat of the Parlement de Paris. ... This is the courthouse, this is where I would have been practicing law, had I become an attorney in France rather the United States. This is where I would be going to Court on a daily basis, had the hands of fate landed me in Paris as opposed to Los Angeles
Marie Antoinette was kept and imprisoned here before her guillotinage. Construction on this site begun sometime in the 13th Century, it survived the middle ages, the Renaissance, the French Revolution, etc... ... I am excited. The wine coursing its way in my veins, i can feel my body buzzing with anticipation.
I walk my children in the hallways of the Palais De Justice, passing by the different offices that i would have walked by on a daily basis in Los Angeles. The Court of Appeals, the Victims Rights office, The Restitution office, the Fines and Fees office. I am overwhelmed by the beauty of the architecture of the building... Of the history, of all the stories that it carries, of all that my life could have been!
This is the country that gave us Jean Jacques Rousseau... "man was born free, but everywhere he is in chains"... and the naissance of the social contract, of the modern legal society. My head spins... So many have died to be free... so many have fought to be free... so much historical weight in these hallways... and who am I? little nobody who wanted to changed the world and fell so short of the mark.
We walk into the breathtaking chapel with high vaulted ceilings.. The painted glass of the 13th century, the gilded wooden frames and high arches, the enamel... What can I say that hasn't already been said, other than its sheer magnificence brings me to my knees.
I have been lucky enough to score front row tickets. And the Quatuor Classik Ensemble start playing. As the bows plaintively cross the strings to draw the darkest moments of history from the notes, it occurs to me...
I am but a little freedom fighting girl, exiled from her own homeland, on account of being a Jew, living in a whole different part of the world, listening to Samuel Barber's Adagio and made timeless by Spielberg's Shindler's list celebrating one man's courage to fight evil by saving thousands of others, sitting where else but in the heart of Europe, where the French laid to the Nazis like butter does to bread.
Nationless... exiled... Rooted elsewhere.... and sprouted.
I am still standing... We are still standing.
and they are NOT.
My hands shake. I must have pushed the off button on the video, i realized much later. It is good to be free. It is good to have freedom... and it is a good fight, that which i fight...
July 2013, Paris
Citizen Journalist, Blogger.