Oahu, east coast

It seems a good day to look at pictures of the sea. I had a housemate once who liked to hang from meat hooks pierced six in a row through his back flesh. He wanted to find a bridge on the coast to suspend himself from, and he let me come along for his search.

cliffs cliffs2 cliffs3 cliffs4

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These cliffs, weathered by time and an unrelenting ocean, looked computer-generated.

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He found his bridge, and I found a lonely coconut

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Mont Saint Michel (Part 10)

I have been dragging it out and dreading this day. You see, the trouble with dreams coming true is that shortly thereafter, they end.

We stayed at a centuries-old farm house not far from the mont. It was run by an Irish ex-pat and could have been something out of a horror film. Whimsical. Like these statuettes around his well

N chose our dinner spot so we would have a view. I had moules frites again.

This was the last picture I got with my camera, because it fell from a great height (of 2.5 feet) the next morning and was never the same again

The rest are courtesy of N.

The next day, we went to Mont Saint Michel for the nocturne.

I would call it a regret, but it wasn’t really a choice. That poor camera… I would have loved to show you the water rising and flooding the plains, covering the roads and erasing everything but the mont.

There was a cello concert in the abbey at sunset

The sunset casting its dilute gold over everything for miles — taken from just outside the abbey

Don’t worry, N wasn’t neglectful. We spent the end of my trip in Paris walking for miles and seeing all of the things. I just can’t prove it. I haven’t the will right now, but I’ll end this series next time with a few thoughts on my time in France.

To be continued…

nb: this part of a series on my trip to France

Vannes and Saint Malo (Part 9)

It’s been a while since I got back. I almost don’t remember visiting Vannes at all. Which is sad, because I do remember liking the feel of the city.

And we found this hugging monster in a building we just wandered into. No, you’re not scary at all. Let’s cuddle.

N says he remembers visiting this garden when he was younger. He also remembered having ice cream. The things that live on in our hearts…

Saint Malo is a popular resort town, especially with the English. Part of it is completely walled in from Medieval times. It’s also home to a few pirate ships.

And the most colorful cathedral window I have ever seen

It was a little sad for me that it was such a fine day and we didn’t just lay on the beach until sunset.

We strolled along the top of the outer wall

This is a bit creepy, but I thought I could see all the way through this apartment. It turns out, that was just a mirror. Accidental self-portrait.

N was not entirely without a heart though. He did allow me a brief nap on the wall, overlooking the ocean. What a fine nap it was.

To be continued…

nb: this is part of a series on my trip to France

Île-aux-Moines (Part 8)

Following advice from our host at the beach house, we planned for a day trip to Belle-Île, but just missed the ferry.  The next departing ferry was bound for Île-aux-Moines, so we went there instead.

This trip made me want to learn how to sail. Little sail boats though. No motor. No fancy yacht.

This tiny island town of 700 feels a kinship with my city by the bay

I didn’t get a picture, but nearly everyone had a cart that they would hitch to the back of a moped. There weren’t cars besides a few large vans for transporting campers and their equipment.

My future boat, perhaps

It was easy to imagine spending more time here. Beautiful, quiet, faraway.

At the bakery, (yes, an island of 700 has its own bakery) we saw a Filipino woman touch a loaf of bread. Two bakery workers gesticulated wildly and shouted at her (in French) to stop. The woman yelled back in frustration “I DON’T SPEAK FRENCH!” I don’t either, but I think they were giving the international signal of “DO NOT TOUCH.” N was absolutely gleeful at this. He told me “I felt in my heart that it was not right that she was touching the bread.” We stopped for lunch just here, next to the church

I even sat on the wall to eat

Wine colored hydrangeas. Fancy

No one knows what the meaning or purpose behind the stone statues. This one, the monk, is presumably who the island was named after

We followed a path along the coast

There were hydrangeas everywhere. I know it’s an old lady flower, but it’s my favorite. They may look fancy, but they require little care. You just have to set them in the right place — cloudy, cool, dry, and most importantly, no direct sunlight.

We eventually went back. That flag in the window is the flag of Brittany

To be continued…

nb: this is part of a series on my trip to France

Arzon (Part 7)

This was my first glance of the sea. From the north coast of France.

This was an example of a dinner I was fed. To an American, it looks like a plate of garnish. But you know, while in Rome… or something.

Is that a rainbow? Are we in Hawaii?

I mean really, just look at this sunset

We went on a hike along the coast during our stay at the beach house

N doing a sun salutation!

This cove reminded me a little of Eternity Beach

This may be the best portrait I’ve ever shot

We went to Le Petit Port for dinner. There is a seagull crossing sign because the owner is friends with a seagull who visits the restaurant for dinner scraps. I saw him trying to cross the street several times, but being startled away by cars.

It happened to me frequently here, but every time I saw little boats in harbor like these

I would remember an old song from my chorus days, especially the lines

They rock at their moorings, all nestled in dreams
away from the roll of the sea

This was the moon on my very last day on the seaside. Some things are just too beautiful. My heart can’t stand it.

To be continued…

nb: this is part of a series on my trip to France

Dylan

Sometime in the night, Saturday night, my watch died. I woke up thinking, “That’s odd, it’s not very old. I wonder what it means.” There is probably a cognitive bias for that — assuming there must be meaning in meaningless events.

Sometime in the night, Saturday night, Dylan died. Oh.

I walked in to a sophomore elective math class when I was a senior, and there I met him, staring at me from behind Prada glasses. I stared back. “Don’t worry,” I told him, “I’m too old for you anyway.”

Years later, I was living somewhere with dark hallways and I couldn’t help but feel that something ghastly was watching me, he sent me his favorite plaid shirt and a letter.

If Dylan and I had a song, it would be this. Recordare from Mozart’s Requiem. He knew Latin, and he served as my instant translator when we listened together. The best were the first few lines — Remember the reason for your life, do not cast me out on that day.

His last Facebook status was

Unrequited love is like hitting your head against a wall that isn’t there

I know what people do in this situation is try to find meaning. Again, in the meaningless. And to try apply these meaningful statements to one’s own life somehow — carpe diem, life’s too short, and all that. But I can’t right now. I’m immensely sorry that he’s gone, and if there’s any lesson I should learn, I can’t see it.

What can be said about a boy who wrote to me about his magic shirt of immortality that would turn into dragon-armor in my dreams? Just, where he went, perhaps I can follow.

Tours and Amboise (Part 6)

Tours has a funny logo, which is a tower with a rainbow. I think it was rendered in 8-bit too. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture. As a consolation, here’s the cathedral.

There was a godawful gold fountain donated by the United States, of a naked Native American with a bald eagle. How embarrassing.

Here is a decent French fountain. Much lovelier.

Along the river, colorful flags.

There was even a ferris wheel. I’m told it’s pretty new.

Amboise. I fell in love the minute I saw the sun over the river. We were there at sunset, and it was just an afterthought, but I want to return one day and stay longer.

These clouds are painting-perfect

We climbed up the hillside to find a panoramic view

We met a friendly ginger cat. He was a purr machine and adopted us right away.

We heard jingling coming from the yard our ginger cat was lying in front of. I thought the proprietors were coming to investigate us. N said “It’s a horse!” I didn’t believe him. “Oh yeah, sure it’s a horse. In someone’s backyard.”

But he was right. There was a castle, a market, and stands selling slushes and moules frites which we didn’t have time to explore. We could’ve had that for dinner, I’m told, if I hadn’t demanded we get a frozen pizza rather than a jar of pickled vegetables. Which is true, but then I would’ve had to eat half a jar of pickled vegetables for dinner some other night. >.<

Look how gently the sun sets.

To be continued…

nb: this is part of a series on my trip to France

Weddings and romance

One might think, that since I am such a fan of romance, that I would be one of those girls. You know, who started fantasizing about her wedding at the age of five, doodling dresses and playing bride by putting white towels on her head.

Not even a little bit. Weddings are not romantic.

I have read, with interest, many wedding websites — those of friends, former classmates, even strangers. What I have found absent from every last one is romance. Everything is formulaic. “Surprises” are unsurprising, the words are hackneyed, the methods are tired, and everyone always says yes. Every story sounds the same. I’ve said it before — I have more romantic stories with my friends than anything I have ever read on a wedding website. For example, this proposal is at once boring and trying-too-hard. How is that possible?

I have a story with B which is far more romantic, and we aren’t even — were never even  — terribly close. I was pleasantly intoxicated at a music and story night given by my housing co-op, and someone dragged me up to the piano and sat me down, saying “Play. I know you can. I’ve seen you.” Silence and expectation filled the room, so I began to play the only thing I had memorized — the adagio cantabile from Beethoven’s Sonata Pathetique.

Almost exactly one year later, I was hurrying to class when the sky released a torrential downpour on me. I would’ve been drenched within a minute, but suddenly there was someone holding an umbrella over my head. It was B. I barely recognized him, but he remembered me:

“You played the 2nd movement of the Sonata Pathetique at Wilde House’s music and story night. I remember you, I remember being stunned at the depth of feeling in your performance. I have always wanted to talk to you. I’ve seen you around the house, but I’ve been too shy. Hello. I’m B.”

Perfection. He turned out to be one of the most interesting people I have ever known. We never dated*, but about once a semester, we would share a bottle of wine and talk through the night. Because he knows everything about everything but somehow made me feel even more brilliant than that.

And there you have it. He rescued me from the rain, and I had made such and impression on him that he couldn’t forget what I had played that night. Far more romantic than rose petals (red and white), a ring in two boxes (to cleverly disguise the size), and a venue recycled from a New Year’s party where love was first declared.

* He was convinced I could never love him…

Orléans (Part 4)

The main cathedral here is kind of a big deal and seemed to be undergoing a bath.

More photographic evidence of the holy ghost?

Like I said, I have a thing for organs.

In Orléans, I took special note of details. Like the corrosion of this church arch.

And these lions holding a door handle

And this plump dragon

I must have looked so strange taking pictures of front doors

And door knockers

It took me a while to accept that these houses actually have wooden beams on their faces, and that they aren’t just painted on. In America, I have only ever seen them painted.

This here is an actual leaning house. I wondered if we had heatstroke or if we were imagining things. But no, it really was lopsided.

This house looked so striking and unusual, but there was nothing to indicate that it was historical or special.

There was another church, but far less grand. I liked it a better, because outside, there was park where people were playing bocce ball. It felt like a lazy Sunday as just another neighbor sitting on the park bench.

In retrospect, I wish I had taken a few more pictures of busy streets. Even modern ones. They would have helped me remember walking through the town, and the distinct character of each place. Churches and organs begin to blur into one after a time. I should have taken more pictures of every park, with its carousels, ice cream and cotton candy stands and little lakes and streams too. Perhaps next time.

That is what I repeat to myself in answer to any hint of sadness or regret: “it just means you’ll have to return.”

To be continued…

nb: this is part of a series on my trip to France