By Sabrina Hicks
There is a scene in Sabrina, the 1954 movie in which I am named after, when Audrey Hepburn says,“Paris is always a good idea.” Paris changes Sabrina Fairchild, pushing her comfort zone, challenging her identity, allowing herself to redefine her world instead of stagnating in the one prescribed for her as a chauffeur’s daughter living above a garage on Long Island. She writes to her father from Paris, “I have learned how to live, how to be IN the world and OF the world, and not just to stand aside and watch. And I will never, never again run away from life. Or from love, either.”
When she returns home, she is unrecognizable as a poised and confident woman. This is what travel does — it opens passageways in our brain we didn’t know existed, casts lifelines, changes our perspective, taking what we think we know and turning it upside down. It took me 40 years to finally get to Paris, to see the city where my namesake was transformed, where wine and pastries were perfected, where literary geniuses and painters convened, where fashion was born and revolutions were lost and won. It seemed a long time to wait since watching that black and white movie, and my husband and I didn’t want to make our kids wait as well. Our oldest was graduating high school and we wanted to gift him, and his siblings, with a ticket to see the world up close, to feel the history in the walls, and walk the streets where millions of shoes have tread with threads and heels alike.
We saw all the major sights — Norte Dame, Montmartre, Le Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Normandy,
Versailles — and each were magnificent and breathtaking. But there is something to be said for those moments unplanned, those midnight strolls when the moon is reflected upon the Seine and the Eiffel Tower sparkles in the distance, and you teeter on cobblestone, smelling the sweetness from the street vendors with their chocolate covered crepes mixing with the roses along the river; those moments, too, when you’re unsettled, trying to figure out the underworld of the Metro, or how to open the doors, or dig through your memory for high school French and put together a string of poorly constructed sentences, only to find you’ve dug yourself into a hole; or find yourself standing before a public restroom that looks like a space capsule and brake all protocol by leaping in before the disinfecting process. Those moments were the thread that colored our days, weaving together our own personal tapestry.
During our last night in Paris, my family and I went around the table revealing each of our favorite sights and what we loved best about the city. I said Montmartre, sitting at a café with the chairs turned towards the streets, sipping wine, watching artists paint, and people gather from all corners of the world, milling about with wonder and joy. But, of course, my favorite sight was sitting right before me: my family gathered together, sharing our experiences, laughing over our travels, what surprised us, how awesome our guides were, how much we learned, how the people of France were gracious and cultured, inspiring us with their passion and history.
Audrey Hepburn was right — Paris is always a good idea. But I found my own reasons why. And I’d like to think our kids did too; that their world grew bigger and brighter, more hopeful and compassionate, knowing differences are gifts to be celebrated and kindness is universal.
More of Sabrina’s work can be found at SabrinaHicks.com