Tuesday, 2 April 2013
When I was seventeen I was sent to Strasbourg on a student exchange. The family I went to stay with had a daughter of seventeen and a son of eighteen. They were the coolest, most chic people I ever met, Clare and Eric. I never knew what adventure lay ahead with them: partying by a lake for the night, sneaking into German health spas, (by climbing over fences) growing all manner of unusual plants in their bedrooms.
On one of the final nights in Strasbourg they woke me up at five in the morning. Told me to dress warmly and follow them as they picked up a couple of friends along the way. At that time of the night in France all the boulangeries were baking and the smell wafting down the streets was divine.
Finally we got to the square in the middle of the city. The huge cathedral was in front of us. Then Clare and Eric informed me that we were going to climb up the side of the cathedral. It was the 1980's and I was wearing heels.
There was scaffolding on the side of the building. We climbed over small fencing and started to climb. I never objected at any point. It just felt like the most exhilarating adventure. Even when we spotted Gendarmerie and had to freeze for a moment.
It didn't take long for us to get to the top of the building. There was a gift shop and we sat outside and chatted, smoking casually. Then Clare announced that we were going up the tightly wound spiral staircase that lead to the very top of the cathedral.
At the top we sat down on the cold stone stairs and looked between the medieval windows. The wind blew in quick gusts around my then, long hair. Strasbourg was breathtakingly beautiful below with the dawn breaking on the horizon.
It's probably one of the happiest memories of my life. My whole life ahead ................