To Whom it may Concern,
Thursday June 12th was supposed to be the best day of all. Not to say that I don’t enjoy spending days with my family just as much as I do by myself, but I was really looking forward to falling in love with another European city by getting lost, alone, in it’s cobblestone veins.
But, expectation reared it’s ugly head and it turns out that you can’t quite fall in love in a day, let alone one where all your plans fall to shambles.
I set out for the library, seeking some wisdom from a few manuscripts, but nay, they declined my request to see them. This put me in a sour mood. And so, while I had sort of figured I would wander east, eventually arriving at place des vosges, where I would steer toward the Pantheon to meet up with my mom and Jeff for a late afternoon exploration of the old church. But, I decided to instead wander south, back to the Latin Quarter.
I knew that the Musee Cluny was in the area and so I made my way there. The old hotel turned out to be just that: old. some of the pieces were still in ruin and the pillars were long overdue for some restoration. But the medieval building stood strong and was even quite lovely inside. I made my way through the sections with some pottery, pretending to be interested in the clear over-done-ness of the Christ imagery involved in them. I was eager to see some artwork, because I find that among the paintings and pieces is either another image of the bible, other than the miracle birth, the crucifixion or the resurrection, or something different entirely, and in a post-medieval world, we can appreciate their freshness.
But then something quirky happened. I had declined one of the guide pamphlets at the door because I just wanted to look and listen. I know listen sounds odd, but I wanted to hear the creaking of the wooden floor, the drafts sail through the corridors, and the birds chirp outside, so as to get a bit better of a feel for how it may have been to stay there for a day while passing through. Then something struck my ears which I did not expect: singing. The Museum was endowed with a church choir, one that would sing at certain times during the day to the crowds of tourists who come through.
It wasn’t accurate, it wasn’t Latin (or at least, not that I could hear), but they were good, and the shocking element was just that they were there at all! Indeed, it made the place feel working, as though I was hearing some piece of the past seep from the cracks in the foundation, like the ghosts were whispering and whistling in my ear.
The choir was accompanied by a harpist and a violinist with a very old looking violin and they both reminded me how good those two instruments can sound, especially the harp.
I listened to them for two songs, and then moved on to the next part of the tour, and this was the art. Again, most of it was this dude on a cross with a rose branch around his head, but eventually I got to the big kahuna. There are 6 silk tapestries which are called, collectively, “The Lady and the Unicorn”. They were magnificent. I’d seen pictures on the internet, but they were even more impressive in person. And the best part was that I didn’t even know they were there.
Surprises, a choir, and the Pantheon summed up what turned out to be actually the best day of the entire trip. Turns out, when you’re looking for love and you get disappointed, you can find a glimpse of it in the aftermath anyway.
P.S. Oh, also, I tried escargot for the first time, it was excellent. That was the part about the snails.