The worst part is the silence.
Grant bustled in nine days ago for a roar of trams, trains and travel. Since last Friday it’s been all go around here, whether we’re just messing around over breakfast, picnicking somewhere in the Strasbourg sun, or meeting up with Amanda (who is at once my study-abroad buddy and Grant’s sister) for drinks on St. Paddy’s Day.
So after all that activity, when he jetted off today and left me all alone in the quiet, it was a blow to realise that when we’d left that morning for the airport, I’d left my iPod at home. Sundays here are lifeless, the whole city shuts down and as such, my wait for my train back home from the airport was jarringly silent. In fact, public transport here is so smooth and soundless that I felt like I was in a vacuum throughout my whole 2-hour train-tram-bus ride home. As soon as I arrived in my little room I tried to drown it out with the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy, but my Mac decided to break a little more today so that’s not happening any more. Instead, I’m recreating the hubbub of recent days and weeks with a Sunday Spotlight on cities I’ve recently had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of. In chronological order, then, allow me to introduce you to:
Florence, you romanticist. What can I say? My first impression of you was of a brusque, standoffish and unwelcoming place; but, like many Italians, once we got to know each other that all melted away to reveal a warm, soft and caring nature. Your intimate little cafés, your sophisticated boutiques and your sublime beauty both up-close and from afar had me itching to come back to you as soon as I was out of the door. It’s not goodbye, Florence: just ‘ciao for now’.
Rome, it was fun while it lasted. You and I simply weren’t meant to be: you were too one-track-minded (well ok, you had two Metro lines, but still); too old and set in your ways; too you for me. I admit a lot of the fault: perhaps I didn’t take the necessary time to get to know you, perhaps I saw you too superficially, perhaps I was just overwhelmed by your volume. Either way, your attraction was undeniable, and, as always when two attractive individuals collide, sparks flew: you and I are not soulmates, I know, but I want to thank you for the good times. Short but sweet, our brief encounter will never be forgotten.
Ahh, Luxembourg. You truly were refreshing. Charming, cultured, individual… After the dusty clamour of Rome, you really were a breath of fresh air. There’s nowhere quite like you, with your infusion of the French, the Dutch and the German: don’t ever lose that originality, as it’s what I loved the most about you. I laughed longer and lighter in discovering your complex and multi-layered nature than I had in a long time: perhaps that was the problem. Did I offend you with my idle fun? Was it all my planking* that turned you off? When Saturday turned to Sunday, you seemed to shut down and stop trying, as though you wanted nothing to do with me any more. I hope one day you find someone who will treat you how you want to be treated: as for me, I hope I find someplace with your charm and taste; someplace a little more accessible.
*’Planking’, for those of you unfamiliar with the concept, is a hilarious internet phenomenon in which one is photographed in random locations in a face-down position with one’s hands by ones sides like a plank. If you speak French, go here for a funny (but very explicit) video which explains it perfectly.
I’m infatuated, I admit it. It’s hopeless, because you’re realms above me on the class scale, but I can’t help it. Your sophistication makes you irresistible yet unattainable: 12 Francs for a paper museum?! You know I can’t afford to pay that and buy all the treats I desire from the gift shop! You ask too much of me, Basel… but who am I kidding, I can’t keep myself away. I’ll bring you your 12 Francs, and whatever else I can scrape together. You and I will never be equals, but I hope you’ll still let me visit every once in a while.
We’ve known each other for a while, you and me. Me and you. But only recently do I feel I’ve broken the ice and got to see the real you shining through. Before we met, I had dreams of how it would be: dreams that were shattered this January by your frosty French façade. However, you are French, and just like Florence did you’re beginning to show that deep-down warmth and loyalty you Europeans save for only the most deserving friends. All it took was for springtime to arrive, and already your delicate pink blossoms, Petite France riverbanks, cozy coffee hideaways and somewhat-affordable sushi places are reaching out to me and cooing ‘Make yourself at home, friend’.
Well, Strasbourg, I don’t mind if I do :)
(Just as long as you don’t mind if my attention strays away over the Swiss border every once in a while).
Warmest wishes to all my friends, biological and geographical!