One April afternoon seven years ago, I sat down on a bench in front of the Notre Dame and looked at the long queue. I wondered whether I should join it. I had made the dumb mistake of booking a trip to Paris over Holy Week, when it felt like the entire population of Europe had descended upon the city. I had already walked around the building, explored the gardens round the back, trying to convince myself that this was sufficient sightseeing, because I really did not want to stand in line. I didn't know how long it would take.
It ended up taking about forty minutes — not awful, all things considered, and a lot less than I feared. I don't remember much of the interior, except how vast, how monumental it all was. There was so much to take in that I don't remember any details whatsoever. I cannot summon any memory of the interior of the Notre Dame, except the feeling I had after I left — the feeling that I had just touched a part of human history, that I had just seen one of the most beautiful things ever made by the human hand.
I looked through my photo albums today, hoping to find some photo of the Notre Dame that I might have taken back in 2012. I visited Bilbao and San Sebastián in March that year, and the next photo album in my catalogue is of Seville, which I visited in May. There is a gap in April, where my Paris trip should be. So I have no photos, and I suppose that is the way it must be: when there are no monuments or mementos left, memory alone must suffice.