I woke up on a Friday morning in an unbearable state of ennui. It was one of those days where you just don’t feel like doing anything. You’re weary, bored and passive. I had the hardest time pulling myself together and a friend suggested that I take walk. I grabbed my camera and went out into the city.
Luckily the weather was nice, very sunny, but still cold … a nice combination. I walked along Liberty Street, took a right on Abercorn and then crossed Lafayette Square, continuing toward Calhoun Square.
What I found was honestly one of the nicest squares I have seen so far, partly because of the fact that it’s relatively unknown. It was quiet, calm, and above all not very popular among tourists. A perfect place if one’s seeking to unwind, study or contemplate—exactly what I was looking for that day.
I sat down on one of the benches and enjoyed the totality of the good weather, the quiet setting and the residential bustle. As I lit a Lucky, a small trio of tourists and a tour guide approached, they were discussing the architecture and as they passed me by the backpacked and loud-voiced guide greeted me. I was almost too tired to respond.
I was enjoying the white noise. Just sitting some place and not having to do anything, not having to think about anything, listening to what the environment has to say.
I remember talking to a good friend of mine back in North Carolina about how today’s generation is constantly inundated with technology—iPods, cell phones, laptops. A lot of people find it hard to be confronted with their immediate surroundings and I find myself succumbing to the desire of turning on my MP3 player when I’m not doing anything.
But not in this square.
I looked straight up at the branches of the oak trees and as I looked down again to the patch of grass in front of me, a smiling woman and her daughter entered the square. They walked onto the grass and she turned around and kneeled down to give the little girl a kiss. She straightened her drape and watched her daughter run around and discover the square.
Grass, trees, Spanish moss, shrubs, bricks pathways … the girl seemed intrigued by every single one of those. She was truly untouched by the world. It’s confusing, but one crosses that point in life where everything is suddenly not so intriguing anymore; we take the trees and shrubs for granted, and we tend to focus on greater issues, because after all we’re living life.
A great sense of weltschmerz hit me. I would give anything to be that young again. I recall spending entire afternoons sitting on the jungle gym in the park around the corner from our house, up until my dad would turn up at 6 p.m. to come fetch me for dinner. The next day would always be a new day, full of new discoveries.
Another woman joined the two on the grass and shortly after two teenaged girls exited the Massie School across from the square. They met up with their moms and I pictured myself many years ago, leaving school every evening and having my mom wait for me at the gate.
They all left Calhoun Square, the little girl, playing with a stick, carelessly following the others. Smoke was carried off by the wind and lit up by the sunlight. I dozed off.Contact Olivier Maene.