Saturday, July 22, 2006

saturday rain fish

i've got two essays here that jenn wrote for governor's school when she was 17/18 and i'm going to share them. maybe they'll help you get to know jenn better or just to remember how much you do know her already. I think this first one is missing a third page, but incomplete tho it may be, the point comes across (the closing lines have been given to me and they have been added. also have been told to note that this essay was written the day before it had to be postmarked for acceptance, which is typical of jenn - ed). it also helps my heart, knowing that i'll be making the same keystrokes that she did at one time. so here's the first one....typos and all.

          Foreign culture has played as large a role in shaping my identity as any aspect of American culture. While there is an undeniable beatuy of a sort in this country, I think that, as in any situation, it can't be understood or appreciated without a glimpse from another persepective. I've been granted this opportunity on more than one occasion, and I will never forget those experiences that have changed the way that I view life.
          There was my first trip to Europe, to France; I lived countryside lifestyle and walked the streets of Paris when I was only eight. I saw the steps of the Madeleine where my grandfather and grandmother were married when he swept her away in 1945 as a war bride. I saw the lights of Paris at night from the top of the Eiffel Tower, saw the river Seine in all its slow beauty, walked the streets of Montmartre and the steps of the majestic white Sacre Coeur. I spent long October evenings in old parks and sprawled alongside a creek bridge crumbling from the eighteenth century.
          I returned when I was twelve, tagging along with my older cousins and tasting French adolescent life, which fortunately altered my perspectives on American adolescence enough to keep me relatively sane. After that I flew back again, fifteen years old and able to glory in the beauty of the city in a new light. On that trip I hit France with eleven students my age and a marvelously open-minded teacher who gave us free rein. The squares of Paris, with their street artists, cafes, dark antique shops and wrought iron balconies, the cemetery at Pere-Lachaise with all its twisted paths and ancient trees, even the pastry shop across the cobblestone road from our hotel, are images I'll carry with me always. On this trip, as well, we hit Italy and Monaco. The sea off Monte Carlo at the foot of plunging rockfaced cliffs, the flowered grave of Princess Grace, the yachts in the harbor--strikingly clear and poetic. Italy too, was gorgeous, though perhaps dirty and crowded at times with its people and massive history, its multitudes of cathedrals and sudden charming alleys, its restaurant districts and its murderous crossroads. Yet nothing compares to the view over valleys from the highways outside Assissi, the power of Coliseum ruins, the truly tilted tower of Pisa. Rome had its metropolitan grime and old streets. Florence had its red roofs and domed cathedrals, its statue of David. Then there was the night train ride over the Italy-France border. The whole trip was like a novel, a movie, a lovely dream, and I remember thinking, although that was a particularly rough time in my life, that there would always be something out there to see, somewhere else to go.
          Last summer I cavorted through Greece, touring the whitewashed Mediterranean island at my leisure on a cruise ship and spending three nights on the roof of our Athens hotel watching the moon rise over the electric-lit Acropolis. I remember thinking that even with Athens' stench of city and open markets, the Golden Age was never too far away. In Athens you can be picking up food or the like at a tiny convenience stand, turn a corner you've never noticed, and be confronted with a marble ruin or elegant imposing statue. It's incredible.
          In an entirely different atmosphere, I've been able to cruise the Bahamas on two occasions, basking in the aquamarine Caribbean and playing like a child in the white sand. There's a certain pungent air over the port at Nassau that makes one understand the allure the islands have for so many people. I'd hardly call it paradise, but it was definitely a hot vivid feast for all senses.
          Being exposed to foreign cultures has molded me as much as life within my own culture. American culture is easy to absorb; it's everywhere, and though it takes intense pride in itself, it's not complicated. The rest of the world, I've learned, is different. Here in an area where people tend to spend their whole lives, I've been able to look past the suburbia and make plans on a much broader scale. I'd love to live in Paris for awhile; only the streets fo the city itself brought me to this daydream. I have a clearer idea of where I'd like to go in my life because I've tasted so many different lifestyles. I know more of what I like, and naturally more of what I don't. These are lessons that I doubt I would have learned without the chances for experience that I've had. As I said, these are images I will carry with me always, and I am perpetually seeking new insights into the world. I am grateful for any opportunity to enrich my ideas and perception with the new perspectives that only a multi-cultural environment can bring.

a novel, a movie, a lovely dream. that's jenn. she knew and experienced more at 17 than i do and have at 27. she's brought me much further down the road of self-discovery and experience than i would have gotten by now without her help. because of her i will continue to travel.

my beautiful, perfect, wonderful love.

timeless space love

10 little fish:

Blogger anne swam up to say...

Jenn wrote in an email that she'd bang on my door one day and demand that I drink wine with her.
If I'm still in Paris when/if you come back, please do.

12:42 PM  
Blogger oldben swam up to say...

i will be coming. there are ashes to deal with and i'm taking her to paris. i'll certainly let you know when i come.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous swam up to say...

I have read and reread this essay so many times and each time I marvel that this was my child. I think that is one of the reasons I mourn for her because I see what she could have been/has always been. A wise old soul who graced us with her presence for 26 years, a miracle in the making. I too will continue to travel and learn because she at times was so far ahead of me. She still gives me joy and the will to go on.....My star child.

8:41 PM  
Blogger mysfit swam up to say...

a miracle in the making indeed and a lovely dream. star child... dancer... one of the rays...

she certainly carried with her a deapth of perception and the ability to detail her experiences to others.

when i was packing this last week, i found many things i wish to share, but the scanner had already been packed and really i have very little time right now. soon though, i want to show you some of the things she showed me...

10:30 AM  
Blogger jason evans swam up to say...

Thank you for sharing this, Oldben.

What a beautiful and sensitive mind.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Carl V. swam up to say...

Wow, thanks for sharing this Oldben. Coming to the fish and seeing a new post by Jenn made me feel like we have her back a little. Not to mention that it is a very good little essay. Thanks again.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous rusvw swam up to say...

Her words will continue to have such a strong and meaningful impact on so many lives. Thank you for publishing this piece for us all to absorb.

I've offered my own tribute to Jenn here:

10:28 PM  
Blogger Calvin swam up to say...

It's good to still see her out here. :)

8:55 PM  
Blogger MrGonSings swam up to say...

Thanks for sharing these words, Oldben...
You'll be more than gladly invited to a glass of wine in her honour, if you happen to stop by Barcelona, whenever you cross the ocean...

6:57 AM  
Blogger mysfit swam up to say...

oh god oldben, cynthia - like a mactruck in the chest, i can barely keep my feet - i miss her so much


2:07 PM  

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