- On the steps of Montmartre, 2000
For my entire junior year in college, I studied abroad in Leuven, Belgium. I refer to this period elitely as My Time In Europe and start off many a story with a commanding “When I lived in Europe…”. It was and remains one of the greatest experiences of my life — I was young, surrounded by friends, and a continent away from any reality I’d ever known. I was smart enough to get by doing minimal work, attending class sparsely, which freed up my time to focus chiefly on the following activities.
- Dragging luggage across crowded platforms to catch various trains.
- Falling dramatically in and out of love.
- Losing my passport.
- Trying on shoes I had no business buying.
- Sitting in various town squares watching the well-accessorized world go by.
- Dancing on tables.
- Ambling through museums.
- Eating my weight in baguettes and gouda cheese.
One regret I do have from My Time in Europe is my failure to take advantage of resources and proximity to cultivate a basic knowledge of wine. I shudder to say that I had little to no taste for the stuff back then. Food? Clearly. Art and culture? But of course. The Belgian propensity for brooding, furrowed brows and all-black ensembles? Absolutely. But wine? Well, I literally didn’t even know what I was missing… So I suppose that gives me all the more reason to go back.
Since we agreed to let the road between us
Fall to disuse,
And bricked our gates up, planted trees to screen us,
And turned all time’s eroding agents loose,
Silence, and space, and strangers – our neglect
Has not had much effect.
Leaves drift unswept, perhaps; grass creeps unmown;
No other change.
So clear it stands, so little overgrown,
Walking that way tonight would not seem strange,
And still would be allowed. A little longer,
And time will be the stronger,
Drafting a world where no such road will run
From you to me;
To watch that world come up like a cold sun,
Rewarding others, is my liberty.
Not to prevent it is my will’s fulfilment.
Willing it, my ailment.
— Philip Larkin
The first ThisWine book review comes about under somewhat awkward circumstances. First off, I only just started the book tonight, and thus am nowhere near finishing it or coming up with any legitimate opinions about it for some time.
Secondly, it’s Friday night. A few texts from my college roommates confirmed the oddity that my life has become – in the span of time that they have known me, I have gone from borrowed Wet Seal tube tops and sugary $3 well drinks to a book and a bottle of barolo. (Most would likely say that is for the best). So for better or worse, I find myself writing this post as I settle down to read by myself in a quiet apartment on a weekend night… It’s cold outside. I have a cuddly puppy. The actual radio is on, softly playing in the background. I dare someone to disagree with my decision to stay in.
But I digress. The third absurdity of timing is that I have been wanting to read this book for a few years now and just never got around to getting hold of a copy. Once I have finished, I will update this post with a proper review, but in the meantime, the book is Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky, and ten pages in, all signs point to magnifique.