Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Relative Age of Cities

In London it feels like the age of the buildings is pressing them down into the ground. Like perhaps there are things as old as the stones crouched on the roofs snarling down at you through the rain, watching you pass, small and mortal beneath their stony gaze. That is not to say they are malevolent at all. No, they are quite content for you to walk under their buildings, to go about your life, perhaps even do great things. But standing under edifices that have stood for unimaginable lengths of time, you are suddenly made aware (as the snarling things already know) of your own mortality; that all flesh will turn to dust and nothing will remain but these impervious stones. London is an old city.

Not so in Paris. In Paris, even in the rain, there is light. The ancient buildings sit lightly upon the earth. Though there are great snarling things there as well, they are beautiful. The old buildings are part of the now. London's gargoyles say, Live . . . while you can. The gargoyles in Paris say, You are alive! Dance, eat, laugh. There is time enough for stones later. The ancient buildings make you feel more alive, younger, more vibrant. It makes you want to ask, How many people were here before me, laughing? And say, I am part of something greater than myself. Not listen for their whispering ghosts like in so many English cathedrals. Paris, even in its great age, is still young.

The view from our flat


5 comments:

  1. I've never felt like a building is going to fall on me in London. I mean, I know they're old and some buildings feel very spooky and you can almost feel the many years of history but I've not felt like to be fair although it probably is compared to Paris. I wouldn't know because I've never been to Paris.

    I think Paris looks lively during the day while London looks lively at night.

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    1. I never felt like a building was going to fall on me in London either.

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  2. This is interesting. Reminds me for some reason of when they talk about every city having a word in Eat, Pray, Love. I'm trying to decide where Rome would rank... I think maybe it just feels timeless.

    The weather might have something to do with it as well--I mean, I wasn't in Paris, but I imagine it being brighter and drier than London when we were there. :)

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    1. Nope. Poured for the first full week. There was one day when I think I can confidently say I was nearly as wet as we were that day in London.

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