This must be impossible, I thought. So I hit play and watched again.

For the seventeenth time, smoke billowed in a tawny cloud, a sunset glow lighting Notre Dame’s spire. It blackened, becoming skeletal, a tensile outline against the evening sky. For a heart wrenching moment, it seemed to become something indestructible… and so its collapse made no sense. In mere seconds the new and starkly drawn structure was completely erased.

I’ve never been to Notre Dame (or to Paris for that matter), but in architecture school I studied its revolutionary flying buttresses and drenched myself in images of its stained glass windows. In dreams, I’ve sat high on the turrets sharing a pizza with the gargoyles and prowled the crypts below the cathedral searching for the Roman ruins on which it was built.

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