Saturday, January 15, 2011

A La Recherche du Temps Perdus

There was a cartoon in my office last year, and while I can't remember exactly what it said, the gist was this: Marcel Proust is sitting alone in a classroom, pen in hand, with a blank sheet of paper in front of him. The caption states something about Proust still agonizing over what to write in response to the teacher's "what I did on my summer vacation" prompt.

I guess it was in reference to his A La Recherche du Temps Perdus, his monumental seven volume work, the title of which translates to Remembrance of Things Past, or more literally In Search of Lost Time. I suppose that is all the usual September writing prompt is, really, is a remembrance of things past, a search for time that was spent---or lost, perhaps. While Deleuze might disagree (he always does. tsk tsk.), the novel is preoccupied with memory, with time past.

All of this is just to say here's what I did on my (Christmas) vacation:

After leaving Tennessee, Andrew and I drove northeastish to Virginia, through the Shenandoah Valley, toward D.C. It's beautiful country--miles of roads and hills and meadows and farmhouses dotting the landscape. When the sun set, the sky was this shade of lavender that I didn't really know could exist up there. I also saw half a bloody deer pushed off to the side of the road.

We made it to D.C. just in time to watch the final quarter of the Hawks game, eat enchiladas and fall in love with Marshawn Lynch.

Andrew's aunt and uncle have lived in D.C. for years and years now, and the two of them took us on a tour of all of the monuments so that we could see them illuminated at night. And even though it was bitter cold, shouting the quotations on the Jefferson memorial with no one around was well worth it. The acoustics in there are phenomenal!

The next day in D.C. we wandered around museums and memorials, and ate a hot dog from a stand on the side of the road. Here are some things I learned: Prehistoric whales--as in, the dinosaur era ancestors of creatures like Keiko--had BACK LEGS. The Natural History museum has several fossils of these huge huge old whale skeletons, and towards the end of their bodies they have tiny little appendages like shrunken legs. The National Gallery of Art taught me that Picasso's blue period actually was just blue, as in the color. I could have guessed, but still. Oh, and I still don't like Dutch painting, even if the perspective and lines are superhuman. Orville Wright never graduated high school, either, and the Korean and Vietnam War memorials are infinitely sad.

We left early the next day to beat D.C. traffic, and drove through Baltimore, and, after having done so, I can perhaps see more clearly why they haven't started The Wire tours like they did with Twilight tours in Forks, WA. North and further north still took us through New Jersey, where the whole state smells like Italian food. I am deadly serious. When we first drove in, through factories and industrial districts--where there were no restaurants serving lunch anywhere nearby--all we could smell was garlic bread. Later, when we stopped in Hoboken to grab a cannoli from the Cake Boss bakery, there was tomato based sauce in the air. Unfortunately, as it was only ten in the morning, I didn't get any cold cuts for lunch. And no sighting of Snookie, although we did have a beautiful view of the New York City skyline as we drove on the Jersey side of the Hudson River.

We stopped in Boston, of course, to have dinner with Scarlet before she went to work, and then made our way back to New Hampshire, where we were greeted by a blizzard a short two days later.

I suppose if Monty Python can parody A La Recherche du Temps Perdus in a mere fifteen seconds, I could try to summarize my past six days in less than six hundred words. No one ever said concision was my forte, though, and it certainly wasn't Proust's either. And he did okay.


Joanne said...

A lovely recounting. And I can't help but smile that you've paid tribute to Marcel Proust and John Denver in your January posts thus far. Now that's and odd couple.

Chelsea said...

This sounds awesome. Bonus points for Deleuze.