Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to see that something spectacular has been happening right before your eyes.
Of course I still have glimpses of awe, but not nearly so much as when I first arrived and was struck by a village, its inhabitants, their lifestyle, and the ambiance they’ve created which were so exotic to that of Palm Beach, Chicago, New York, and San Diego, the American cities I’ve gotten to know lacking hundreds of years of history Saint Antonin Noble Val had wholesomely stumbled upon back in the 12th century.
When friends and family came to visit this past week I was reminded of what wonder I felt when I landed here several months back, and was refreshed to see again what drew me to stay when everyone else had left.
The restaurants were no longer somewhere I sat to fill up providing a flat surface where I could comfortably draw for long lengths. They became foreign dining experiences serving food to flavor the palette with tastes we’re unaccustomed to in an order that doesn’t fall short of gluttonous. Meals are typically served in at least three courses over the course of a couple of hours, prepared with food gathered from local farms, simply because any other avenue is inaccessible, each assumed to be with appropriate wine pairings from vineyards wrapping around the region.
The spots where we set our towels on any given weekday along the river were no longer just a place to swim or nap in the sun. Showing them to visitors reminded me of what picturesque environments we had found, undisturbed by influxes of tourists and rare opportunities to sun bathe on stones set in place before our country was even an idea, alongside dams constructed to facilitate the livelihood of towns smaller than our average high school.
These aren’t just homes, they’re old mills, birthing houses, cobblers, tanneries – buildings of professional standing still somehow standing even after their professions became outdated.
The people I kiss-kiss in the streets were no longer just neighbors, shop owners, friends, and acquaintances. In the light of introductions they became walking-talking authentic representations of the values, practices, and evolution of a land we could hardly conceive finding our way to before the invention of flight in just a fraction of the time this country was thriving before us. They are the people making history, weaving past and present, advancing languages, setting the stage for travelers to perform upon as they become the audience for our peculiar conducts.
When they left just yesterday, I was left to wonder how I can remind myself to look at where I live, where ever that is, as if I were looking at it for the first time. Why did I choose to stay here? What drew me here? What do I love about this place? What makes here so unique? If only I could refuse settling into regularity I think every place would instill that same sense of invigorating admiration.