I never in my life thought it would be possible to feel the way I did standing underneath the Eiffel Tower. That's where the epiphany struck. In one of the world's great cities, with steel beams rising above my upturned face into a cloudless sky, I stood with an open mouth, like an idiot.
People wearing berets stepped around me, adjusting their fanny packs. I closed my eyes and felt the air on my face. The din of the square reminded me of something from my past; voices from without, inflected with a midwestern flatness, resonated with voices deep within. The jostling crowd, the excitement, the music; these held hidden ties to a single memory that teased me and danced in the periphery of my mind. I searched the insides of my eyelids for a clue.
One song ended and another began. What was that? Something loomed behind the excited cacophony of a thousand American conversations. I tilted an ear up at the girder-mounted speakers just in time for the tell-tale sign: an unmistakable, unredeemable, unforgivable twang. God help us, they're playing country music at the Eiffel Tower.
In a rush of associations, I snatched the memory out of the ether. The whole scene brought me back to the Allen County Fair. Country music, a buzzing midwestern crowd, and I swear those crepes were being dispensed out of carts just like the ones that sell fried elephant ears all over semi-rural Ohio, beneath the banked turns of frighteningly-temporary miniature roller coasters. If I shut out my view of the world's ultimate romantic destination, I was left to assemble a patchwork out of my other sensory feeds, and their data were as well-matched to a chilly morning at a fair in Ohio as anything I was presently experiencing. (The absence of the smell of manure only meant I was on the food-side of the fairgrounds, rather than the barn-side.)
And that's how I came to feel the impossible while standing under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. Surrounded by my jowly countrymen, in the presence of whom I pensively chewed a cosmopolitan meat stick, I closed my eyes and felt perfectly at home.