My activities this weekend were very representative of my overall experience in Montpellier up to this point. These events or experiences often involve the uncovering of new realities and the suppression of past prejudices, stereotypes, and expectations. Personally, socially, educationally, and in many other areas of my life, everything seems to take a different shape, breaking a shell of immaturity and ignorance piece by piece, allowing its contents to seep and form itself according to its new environment. It occurs in simpler environments like a Joan Baez concert or gym, as well as in the necessities of life such as school and work. I have come across so many things that tweak previously held opinions. I might not have been completely wrong before or come to find a truth in its final form, but, nonetheless, each event provides material for a much broader database of intelligence, confidence, and well-roundedness. I have not come close to reaching the full potential of my stay, but, only after this short amount of time, I take notice of immense changes to the point in which it is hard to relate to that person I was before I came.
The change and constant revision is rampant, but not the only characteristic. Another aspect involves the senses. Sights, smells, sounds, and touch creating a collage of the most beautiful and the most hideous things I can register to memory. Tonight, I will write of what truly disgusts me. The aspects of Montpellier I have detested from the moment of my first encounter, to each and every moment I am unlucky enough to come upon them. I have several examples and can cite many different experiences. I will only write of what occurs each Sunday morning when I walk to church. I start from my apartment down a road overhanging with trees and bordered by two stone fences, one on each side, providing the partition between the road and the park on one side, and the road and a cemetery on the other side. It is pleasant, tranquil, and set apart from the hustle and bustle of the main road which the stone-fenced road runs into. I cross a tramway line and a main road, then begin down the road leading into town. The first five to ten minutes is lovely. I pass the famous and beautiful Saint Lazare cemetery, a park, several shops devoted to creating marble tombstones and crypts, and a few boulangeries and flower shops. As I get closer into town, the scene becomes more depressing. Most of the buildings look the same as those I pass in the initial five to minutes of my walk, but the wears and tears of the night before become oppressively much more visible as I continue. I pass a night club that continues its operation until Sunday morning, serenading and infecting the early Sunday air with techno music and the sounds and smells of those who have been partying from Saturday night to late Sunday morning. Around these parts, the passer-byers carry all the traits of extreme intoxication, the glazed eyes, the wobbly stature when walking or standing, the slurred speech, breath you want to keep your distance from, stained and unkempt clothing. The sidewalk is littered with broken bottles, bags of fast food, and torn beer boxes. Today, I saw, in the middle of the sidewalk and covering the width of the sidewalk, vomit that had, by the smell of it, been sitting there for a few hours. A few weeks ago, I saw a man much like me (by this I mean, not homeless, a student) passed out in the middle of the sidewalk. He was there sleeping when I went to church and, again, at the same spot, in the same position, using his shoe as a pillow, when I returned from church. Knowing I will arrive at a church always keeps me from feeling completely miserable. However, even a church, a place of such beauty and goodness, is not spared the over-indulgences of a very over-indulgent youth. Today, each step (there is about twelve long steps from the street to the church entrance) was littered with broken wine, beer, and liquor bottles. You could not avoid stepping on something, it covered the steps as a finishing coat of paint covers a wall. And here, the church and the walk to church, I find what I hate most about Montpellier. The aspects of life, the products of too much youth in too small of a city, I will have no problem getting away from.
I took things fairly slow this weekend. The highlights were a wonderful Joan Baez concert, a nice evening out on the town and a couple of culinary accomplishments. Other than that, I filled the rest of my time with studying, reading, exercising and running.