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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Off the Beaten Path

There's that famous quote "Not all who wander are lost." Well good for them, because the longer I live away from my native land the more I realize just how lost I am. Up until I graduated college, I was on a path, I wasn't sure where exactly, but it was guided and easy to follow. Now, here I am, over a year later after I decided to go off this path and I am no closer to finding what I'm searching for. But now the question becomes, well, what AM I searching for? Culture? What kind of culture? Art that someone painted four hundred years ago? My Dad chastises me for not taking advantage of all the beautiful Parisian things that I could surround myself with. Yes, I could wander the Tuillerie gardens, for the hundreth time, or fight the crowds at Monmarte. But at the end of the day, what's the point? Nah, no thank you, I'll pick and choose myself what I want to see, I don't prefer doing just what other people tell me.

I read an article in some periodical, that was written by some author whose name I can't remember. None of that is important. But he did bring up an interesting point. In the 1800s it was popular for upper class boys to go on a Grand Tour of Europe, during which time they would go on ragers and see all these classical pieces of art. Occasionally, they were so overwhelmed by the beauty of the artwork that they would faint out of shear awe. The writer went on to say that modern day humans merely observe all these great works of art, and culture just to check them off a list. So they can go back to their country of origin and smugly tell their coworkers "Why yes, I was at the Eiffel Tower, we walked by it on a lovely sunny day after drinking a little café crème, but you know, it wasn't that impressive..." So perhaps da Vinci is turning over in his grave, but excuse me when I say, I don't give a shit about seeing the Mona Lisa.

Okay, that's a little bold. I do give a shit about her, I just am not in any particular hurry to see her. I have wandered by the Louvre about a thousand times, and I have yet to enter. But before you bawk, think about it, how many Parisians do you think have seen actually the artwork there? You think the Banlieue punks on the metro spend their time eating baguettes in Parc Luxembourg? Nah. They're too busy harrassing everyone on the street for drink and cigarettes. And while I'm not trying to lump myself together with these hoodlums who rock pastel sweatpants and bad haircuts, we do have something in common. We live here. And Paris is a big, busy city. Yes, it has fabulous architecture and its world famous, but it's home for us. I work during the week, a lot. As we all know, childcare is no small feat. On the weekends I want to spend time sleeping, or seeing my friends.

I'm not a tourist anymore, and that's that.

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