Thursday, March 23, 2006
Paris and Stockholm
Current mood: contemplative
Category: Travel and Places
Rare is it that i believe that what i believe is important enough to bother saying aloud without the knowledge that others are listening. Today is a rare day. I speak. Not necessarily to say what i mean but to question what i believe and what others believe, to ask if anyone can contradict my query and reassure me as to the truth of such statements as "Paris is beautiful" so I am not left to wonder how or why.
Awakened in Stockholm, I attempt to surf the internet while i decipher which path my day will take. It is always a bit odd and unusual waking somewhere you hadn't planned to be less than a week before. So long as the curtains remain pulled closed it makes no difference - but once they are open and i look about outside everything becomes a bit stranger. Today I see snow. A narrow rushing road piled with snowdrifts, the quintessential winter wonderland in theory. I find it difficult to come up with spontaneous hopes and aspirations without them seeming a bit rushed in their creation. When it comes to Stockholm all I have in my head are vague notions of milkmaids named Helga, thanks to Improv and acting classes with Kathleen over the years. I keep trying to verify where I am, Sweden and Switzerland mixed up in my mind too often (now at one, a few summers ago it was the other.) I loved Geneva, now i need to find something that I love here.
Paris was dirty. When searching for a descriptive word, there is no need to search. Paris looked like the grey and depressing concrete slab of Simon Fraser University after ten thousand free cans of spray paint were given out to anyone who cared to mark their territory, throw a party and leave their waste scattered about to prove that they existed, that they were a someone, that they had been there.
I can now imagine what the moon would look like if space travel were accessible and everyone was able to have their way and visit it. The moons surface would become a messed up monument to the existence of millions of individuals as they scrawled their names in the sand, tagging moon rocks and plastering parts of themselves across its dusty surface in a desperate cry to be seen as something greater than themselves.
I am certain I have heard the claim that Paris is beautiful. I am now caused to question who it was that spoke, to wonder where i heard or saw that statement of belief. I cannot seem to back it up with facts or quote an instance of its being stated as fact. That Paris is beautiful is undocumented. Merely the concept of Paris and beauty in the same sentence is perplexing to me now.
Interesting, yes - Creative, most definitely - Unusual and eye catching? Facts. But beautiful? This idea confuses me. It causes me to search in vain, wondering if something was lost in translation perhaps. Maybe they meant "Paris is beautiful in June when the sun is out and Parisians have spent three months cleaning the streets and whitewashing the 300 miles of graffiti away for a few days before it returns with a vengeance." For those who might say Paris is Beautiful, I am left wondering how they got there and where they purchased their rose coloured glasses as I would have loved to fly in on that Griffen and miss the dirt and grime and graffiti that plastered itself upon everything like a second skin.
When we visited Paris yesterday and the day before - everywhere we looked there were gaping holes in the ground as earth movers shoved the cities' dirt from one plot of land to the next. Giant holes were cut into the ground alongside seemingly new apartments and condo homes. The construction was so haphazard and complex that I was quickly questioning whether these constructions were the remains of near finished buildings - or if in fact their intent was in tearing them down.
Trash piles burnt next to abandoned caravans, old women and young children stumbled into the questionable warmth of derelict truck bed covers scattered throughout these degradingly simple compounds. Wall after wall after wall after wall blemished by (gang) tags, entire city streets marred by names and acronyms vibrantly adorned every textured surface that we passed. The air stank and altered gravity, the chemicals within its makeup pressing heavily against hair and skin, each breath taken less fresh than the last.
I liked Paris, I thought the Louvre was beautiful, as were the courtyards adjoining it and so much of the artwork it contained within. The Eiffel tower was interesting (but still so impractical an object that it doesn't inspire me to great heights, even the notion of climbing it to say i had was beyond my needs. ) I saw the eiffel tower, I enjoyed the train rides and our walk in the brisk winter wind - and the architecture of the historical old buildings near by, but i remain uninspired. The miles of land around it were lacking in care, the efforts and imaginations of Paris wrapped up so tightly in the awe and wonder of this one object that they neglected hundreds more. Ambient noise was unremarkable, music played as trains readied to depart and otherwise there was no distinctive sound earning its memory.
As my photograph was taken while I stood before the Eiffel Tower, several men peed on the surrounding bushes, mere feet away.
I kept listening for the subliminally echoed whisper of "Paris is beautiful" but found it too easily drowned out by the deafening roar of neglect.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Posted by Arrika at 10:27 AM