Paris and the Lost Earrings

Is It the City of Lights, the City of Love or the City of Luck?

Matt Burke

The cameo earrings

I’ve always been a sentimental person. So when my father gave me my first pair of grown-up earrings at the age of 18, I treasured them.

Perfectly oval, rose-hued cameos encased by gold beading — I wore those little vintage beauts everywhere. For many a moon, I made certain the studs were incorporated into my daily ensemble. They were my signature look.

Several years had passed by the time I was packing for a summer-abroad program in Paris. The earrings easily made my “must-take” list, despite our advisers’ recommendation to leave all our valuables at home. I guess that’s what they call “foreshadowing,” huh?

We were in Paris for almost three weeks before the inevitable happened.

I was running late to my French language class, located just a quarter of a mile away from the Jardin du Luxembourg in a beautiful fifth-floor stone walkup. As I hurried out of my dorm room on the other side of town, I snatched my earrings off the bedside table, shoved them deep into my pocket and took off to catch the Métro. It wasn’t until I had settled into my desk chair that I thought to reach for them again. They were gone.

My face grew warm as I felt around my pocket only to find the tiniest of holes where they must have fallen out.

A wave of nausea followed. Oh yeah, I was definitely going to cry. Big time. “Pardon moi,” I squeaked out, managing to excuse myself from the classroom before the tears started to fall.

I spent the rest of the morning frantically retracing my steps: down the stairs, through the corridors of the institute, back to the street and the Métro platform. My eyes glued to the ground, I was hopeful up until the moment I arrived at my door. Then I knew for sure — no way, no how. There simply wasn’t a chance in the world I’d see those earrings again.

Though the sentimental loss for me was great, I soon realized what was actually weighing heavily on my heart was the thought of telling my parents. Of course they’d pretend it wasn’t a big deal, and fiscally speaking it probably wasn’t. But there was just something about saying, “You gave me something beautiful, and I lost it,” that I just couldn’t stomach.

I quickly hatched a plan.

My mother was coming to Paris the following week, so I could show her the sights I had been gushing about over Skype since my arrival. Before she landed I had to, I repeat, I had to find another pair of rose cameo earrings. Luckily for me, I was in Paris — the city of sparkling things.

With a little bit of legwork, I managed to track down a pair of earrings eerily similar to my own at a gift shop in the Louvre. Despite being costume jewelry, they were pretty darn close to my original pair. If nothing else, I told myself, the 20 euros I had to spend on them would buy me time to work up the nerve to tell the truth.

I wore the knockoffs to the airport when I went to fetch her.

My mom and I had a great time wandering the city streets. I was able to show her my favorite neighborhood, Le Marais, and all the other things I was so excited about.

As for the earrings? She never even noticed. I resigned myself to the fact that someday, somehow, I’d have to share with my parents what had happened. But not just yet.

On my last night in town with Mom, I received a message in my inbox from a coed friend:

“Hey! I found a pair of earrings on the sidewalk last week. They remind me of you. I heard you lost a pair. Could it be?”

The message came with a picture.

It was impossible. And yet, there they were, in the palm of my classmate’s hand. A little scratched but no worse for wear, my earrings had managed to wedge themselves into the soles of my friend’s shoe.

It was a miracle. Perhaps not of biblical proportions, but to me, there was simply no other word for it. With more than 2 million people in Paris (and presumably 4 million or so feet strolling about), the fact that my earrings found their way back to me was completely incredible.

I never told my parents the entire story about why I love those earrings so much. Well, I guess I have now.

Categories: Opinion