Sunday, January 17, 2010
My sole ambition today was to re-introduce myself to the city I absented myself from for the past month. As if the quite pungent visit to my packed, poorly circulated gym without, at this moment, a serviceable air-conditioner was not enough to thoroughly satisfy me that, indeed, I was back in France, as well as service me with enough culture shock to keep me secluded in my room for the next week, I took to the streets tonight to see the town after dark. Montpellier puts on a new face after dark. During the day the city is a busy town: people hurrying from place to place, scents emanating from cafes, street vendors, and unscrupulous washers, sights of sunshine, brightly colored graffiti, the yellowish, cream coloring of stucco offset by roofs of navy blue, black, and red spanish tiling create a quite chaotic atmosphere. As the sun fades, the life, the color, the scars of a town packed with college students shed their poignancy; the city polishes and bathes itself in the white, golden hue of it's lights. The well-trodden town takes a much needed break from the pounding of its promenading populace, licks its wounds and offers a wonderful show for those who wish to partake. Its morphosis is complete and dramatic, ever evolving from that which thrusts itself upon you by day and coddles and pampers you by night. Throngs of busy-bodies going each and every direction are replaced by couples, groups of men and women with interlocked arms, the lonely photographer, those lost in sight, thought, and sensation, all quietly enjoying a private reunion with the streets and buildings they may know so well, yet appreciate only seldom. Shadow and darkness create a scene of the surreal as churches, cinemas, private dwellings, fountains and parks transform to literary, cinematic objects where beauty and perfection transport the viewer to heightened, dramatic senses of seemingly fictitious splendor. Perhaps one must read a book or watch a movie which romantically portrays the ambience of a European city to get this feeling. I know I feel it each time I am in the city at night. I feel a part of a world where its beauty and mystery can never be mastered, never understood or found dull, uninteresting, or uninspiring, a world apart which has a firmer grip on me than I have on it..