It was noisy. There were people everywhere. I was nearly six months pregnant and had been walking all day.
It didn’t matter.
When I was a little girl, I read a history book about Marie Antoinette. The format was interesting– it was presented as her diary from when she was a child in Vienna up until shortly after she married the French dauphin.
I loved this girl I got to experience 18th century Europe with. I related to her– she was afraid of the adults in her life because she so badly wanted to please them. She felt insecure, inadequate, and unprepared.
Of course, this girl is mostly fiction. The diary format was just a ploy to get children interested in history and give them a general outline of events. But they called her Marie Antoinette and though I know the rest of the story–just how childlike this woman had remained throughout her life, the gluttony and excess her reign represents–I can’t shake the impression that diary left on me. It could even have been the foundation for the love I have for France to this day. I can’t account for my obsession with Marie Antoinette, this nonsensical affection for the fated queen, beheaded on my birthday centuries before I was born.
So the noise, the people– they didn’t matter. The stress and sweat and swollen ankles were worth every moment of making this dream come true.
I wanted to cry at so many moments that day–walking up to the gold gates, getting that first glimpse of the Hall of Mirrors, stopping for much needed raspberry gelato on our way out of the miles of gardens– it was a fully realized fantasy.
Swollen ankles, fiction, and all.