Pond of the Swiss

by G Goodman

My friend Stefano gave me some good advice once.  Well, technically he was teasing me.  He pointed out that on Facebook, I post a lot of photos of the same thing, just different angles, different shots, and that the photos would be more effective if I just selected the best ones,  edited things down a bit.  He’s right, of course.

However, I’m not really one for following good advice at all times.  This post is one such case of defiance.

I am showing you a lot of pictures of the same thing.  But the fact is that I took a lot of pictures.  I took a lot of pictures because I was in awe.  And every way I turned, I wanted to stop time for a moment.  Let me clarify that these pictures are indeed taken in France, but it looks more like New York City to me.

I stumbled on this pond by accident, blinded by the sun on the water when I turned a street corner.  I remember I reacted almost violently the second I saw it, as if I was angry.  I was actually talking out loud to myself, “What the hell.  How is this my life!?  How did this happen?  How did I get here? I mean what the fuck.”  Someone heard me curse out-loud to myself and gave me a perplexed look.  I had a weird reaction, I know.  But I was so stunned.  Happy to have found it, but I felt so caught off guard, and in a way, undeserving.  Like my life should be worse than this.

I had just been trying to just have a simple day:  Walk up and down some streets.  Take some photos of old doors and peeling paint.  Get cold and get a coffee.  Walk around the street again.  Just bumming around, on a cold afternoon, with no idea where I was going.  I thought I was headed in the opposite direction of Versailles, unaware that it was still in my path.  I was almost avoiding epic beauty, saving it for another day.  I feel like you can have too much of a good thing.  But I got over it pretty quickly and just decided to enjoy it.

It was a happy surprise that was enough to make you believe in something.  I don’t know what.  Glimmering Pond Gods, maybe.

As it turns out, this pond is part of the L’Orangerie of Versailles.  It is called the Pond of the Swiss.

Rows of things make me happy.

Sun, too.

I also found myself the observer as usual, in a place full of people, people who are doing things–with other people.  I can’t always wrap my head around this concept; I’m not the best joiner.  I forget sometimes how lonely it can be to be alone until I’m alone around people who are not.  But even then, I kind of prefer it–so often I’m in the company of others and I just wish I was by myself.

That’s a group of kids breaking from playing soccer, sitting in a circle.

I end up taking a lot of photos of families.  I don’t remember noticing families as much when I traveled in the past.  Now, their existence is so blatantly apparent to me everywhere I go.  They are exotic, and elite; they know something I don’t know, and sometimes this gives me a twinge.

But mostly, I just enjoy the scenery.  I like to pretend I’m a movie scout for Wes Anderson.

Funny, you grow up hearing that the “correct” way to take pictures is from an angle and not dead-on.  Some people tell you that.  But I like symmetry.

The next two are photos are nearly identical, but I like the effect of panning down from a sky full of trees…

…into a park that seems hauntingly empty.

Sometimes lonely can be lovely.

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