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It’s pouring when the taxi stops in front of the apartment building that I know so well. Slowly I get out and from under my umbrella I look up at the beautiful white stone building. The ornaments tell a story of the 18th century and the detailed eye for beauty that the architect had. I’m still just as much in awe by it as I was the first time I laid eyes on it. Taking a deep breath I walk to the front door with the doorknob that’s weatherworn after all these years. My excuse to come here is my credit card that arrived, but in all honesty I just had to see the place where we were insanely happy and where she is now living alone. Climbing the spiral wooden staircase so typical for old Paris apartment buildings, I let my fingers trail the banister. Even the smell is the same, wood mixed with history. I used to run up these stairs after a working day, impatient to come home to her. Every day equally excited to see her. She would greet me with a kiss and we would discuss our day over dinner or we would change and go out. Either way, coming home to her was always the best part of the day. I rest my hand against the brown wooden door, my heart pounding in my chest. If only I could turn back time. She would open the door with a loving smile and welcoming arms and our warm home would wrap itself around me. With a hard knock on the door I try to chase away my melancholic feelings.
When the door swings open, her eyes meet mine and I recognize a shared pain in them. Her attempt to smile fails miserably as she steps aside and lets me in. It takes a lot of me to force my feet to step over the threshold. Routinely I take off my coat and hang it on the coat rack that’s still hanging against the wall in the small hallway. My umbrella I place in the corner where the umbrella stand used to be and follow her into the living room. It’s not the space and the big windows overlooking the Seine that hit me first, it’s the smell of home. Tears burn behind my eye lids when I briefly close my eyes. I can swear there is something cooking on the stove, her perfume lingers all around me and everything smells so intimate and so well-known. The sound of the door quietly closing behind me causes me to open my eyes again. I try to suck it in all at once, the couches, standing at exactly the same place, similar model but slightly different color, the dining table that’s not round but squared at its place in front of the window. She finally bought the lamps with the goldish lampshades that I never wanted but I have to admit look stylish.