As the temperature begins to rise, so does my desire to get on a plane and go to Europe… Take away the fact that we do not see eye to eye on much of modern history… or any history for that matter… Europe calls to me, especially during the summer. Perhaps it is because the only times I have been there are during the summer months, but I don’t know.
I am having another hankering. Although oddly enough, today I had a hankering to go to Brooklyn, too.
My brother used to live across the street from Prospect Park… and the image locked so clearly into my brain this morning… It was very peculiar… and if I had a private jet and money to spare, I have no doubt I would have been strolling the grounds of that park by the afternoon.
If I had to put a finger on it, I would say it was the sense of community I miss… Places like Sienna in Tuscany have their wonderful piazza… a place where romantic couples and families gather to sit and drink and talk into the evening… France has their gardens and parks… New York has Central Park… Brooklyn has Prospect Park… and… well… Griffith Park and places like that in LA just don’t cut it.
I’m not bashing LA. As I have said before, it’s hard to complain when you’re walking around in shorts in February… and it is not the cultural wasteland so many East Coasters make it out to be… We have two Getty museums… LACMA… plenty of theatres and art galleries and live music venues.
And you are two hours from Palm Springs, two hours from San Diego, two hours from the mountains… five hours from Vegas… less if you have balls and a heavy foot…
But then I wonder… is it strange to love a place based on how easy it is to get out of? Two hours and you are completely out of Dodge.
I guess what I miss most are the neighborhoods… any real neighborhood, where one can walk to the market, a gourmet shop or two… where one can find a large array of restaurants and theatres. An area that has something for everyone.
Maybe that is Los Feliz or Silver Lake… or even Studio City… but is it? LA is a driving town… it just is. There is no way around that. And it’s hard to be immersed in humanity from a car, whizzing by at 65 miles an hour… not including rush hour, of course, which can be any time of the day.
When you walk the streets of New York, you find humanity all around you, sometimes too close and right in your face, but there it is. As you cross a street and pass those folks walking the opposite way, you can catch an eye or a face or sometimes a smile from a beautiful woman. It’s right there, and like it or not, you are in it.
In Europe the pace of life is different. Sure things have changed with the advent of the Internet and 24/7 business… and the debate over whether one should nap or not nap in the afternoon rages on… but, the place is more about life… longer vacations… more time to sit and eat and talk… They smoke more, sure… but they walk more and they seem to take their time more, too. Their foods are fresher and made with no preservatives… well, most of their foods are… and it just seems that life is more passionate.
Maybe it’s just me… Maybe I need to grab life by the balls more and shake… That sounded… weird… How do I get out of that analogy?
You know what I mean! I remember saying this in 1997 as we strolled by an old couple in Levernois, who sat silently next to each other on a swing. No words, no looks… they just sat, side by side… at the end of a long, gravel driveway… with chickens and other farm like animals running around. My brain immediately made up a story about the passion they had, and the passion they still had… but age had also brought them a sense of calm and contentment… a sense of peace.
I decided at that moment, that I wanted to be French. Well, perhaps that has changed a little… I have many issues with the French these days… As I said at the beginning, history and their take on things is the main point of contention… but that pace, that patience… at least in life, “tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.”
So send me to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival, please… Send me to Tuscany and Florence… Send me to Burgundy and the Loire… Send me to New York City and yes, Brooklyn… I travel cheap… and aside from wanting to plan every meal, I’m a good companion. And I can read a map like Lewis or Clark… or Sacagawea… Really.