Friday, September 11, 2009

Written on 5 September 2009 at 10:24 Montpellier Time

Today was a day of ups and downs, unknown futures and memorable places. This morning, I was sleepy and slept in past the time my roommates were going into town. I regret that, it would have been a chance to spend time with them. Whenever they plan to go out, they seem to plan to do specific things. Go there and get that, come back and do this. I wanted to roam free, get lost and see my city. I did just that and found myself at the spots always seen on the "Visit Montpellier!" web-sites. The arc de triomphe, the Promenade du Peyrou, the Jardin des Plantes, and the roman aqueducts. They were all beautiful, definately my favorite day of sight seeing. The arc de triomphe was large and fancy, but new and somewhat gaudy. It just didn't fit in. I was in the roman, medieval, government office section of town. Things were old and you could tell. The arc went against the theme of the area, as beautiful as it was, it was simply out of place and overshadowed. Making my way through the arc and across the street, I discovered a park elevated four or five feet above the road. It wasn't a huge park, obviously designed less for recreational pleasure and exercise than worship of the Capetian line. It was beautiful and small, only the size of a couple football fields placed next to each other. Through the middle of the park were two opposite facing, about fifty yards apart, rows of trees leading the way to the statue dedicated to the Capetian line in the middle and a reflecting pool and elevated arc towards the rear of the park. I was elevated and could see nearly all of the suburbs of Montpellier and luminous figuere of Cevennes jotting up in the background. The rear arc was closed, what a shame, so I left by taking the rear exit of the park which lead directly to the roman aqueducts I have long desired to see. They werre beautiful and impressive, tall and well-structured to hold strong through centuries of wear and tear. I stopped, took a couple of pictures and descended some stairs leading me out of the park and onto street level. I walked the exterior wall of the park and was mesmerized by the fact that something so old could last so long. I thought of how many people had been here over the centuries. The kings, the soldiers, the poor, the baker, the writer, the children, all looking at what I was looking at, perhaps thinking of life the same way, what was happening and what should be happening. We are centuries apart, yet, and this is what amazes me about historical property, we can claim to have utilized the same spots.

I made my way back to the street I had initially entered the park from. Heading the opposite way, I spotted what seemed to be a park. It was the University of Montpellier's Jardin des Plantes. I had heard of this before and had to enter. It was truly beautiful and ranks as my favorite place so far. It was secluded, the moment you stepped through the entrance you felt you had left the city and landed in a desert mirage. They had beautiful, overhung pathways lined with many different kinds of trees, flowers, herbs, and small statues all coming from countries across the world. It was a zoo for plants, fortunately, you don't have to worry about being attacked if you get too close to a cage. After the botanical garden, I started my way back to the Place de la Com├ędie, looking to buy intenet access for my laptop. It all went well, I made it home and bought internet access while doing so. I had had a good day, saw the things I usually love to see in other cities. However, I noticed something different. I still noticed the beauty of what I was seeing, but I never relished it. Something kept me from truly engaging myself in the environment, holding me captive to realities. I guess whenever I see something like I did today I am with a parent, on a trip. We have a set itinerary, everything is paid for or has a way of being paid for. Unlessthe trip really goes bad, we are guaranteed a good time. It is trips to Ireland with Dad or New York with my Mom, they were relished in the moment. I was able to let go, enjoy my surroundings and amawe myself with whatever I was seeing. Today was different, I didn't have the people I love the most around me to share my experience, asking asking each other questions, soaking up the uniqueness of what we were looking at. So, I guess I felt lonely, but the feeling was more than that. The feel I had in New York and Ireland, Cooperstown and Belize, was that feeling you get on vacation. A one or two week release from your daily routine, only you and your loved ones, good times. That wasn't there. I am not on vacation, and I don't know know what I am doing well enough to foret what I should do in the next couple of days or weeks. I find it odd, the only ways I used to think of the rest of the world was through what I saw while vacationing. Everything sounded good, I thought of my time there as temporary, something without the necessities and must-do's of everyday life. Now that I am herer herer to stay and have no idea about what is going on around me, it changes things. I don't see the same joy I once had. It tarnishes my joy of the country, but it enhances the experience of it. I am living France, not just visiting, and that is what I was looking for.

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