Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Modern Rape of Europa

For all of my life I have wanted to go to Europe. I have wanted to walk down cobblestone streets and eat waffles and gaze up at buildings and hear accordion music and feel my skirt swish. I have this thing where I picture a perfect moment. I picture what I'm wearing and where I am and what I'll do. I orchestrate major life moments so they look like I want them to look.

So yes, I romanticized Europe. I dreamed of gelato and Vermeer and attractive European men. Mostly I dreamed of the cities.

And then I lived my dream. The cobblestones and waffles and buildings and accordions and skirts. All that.

Please don't misunderstand, I love Europe. I've eaten heaven-worthy gelato and stood in awe in front of a Vermeer and gaped at many-a European man. I wish I could see all of the cities again and again and again. But I want to tell you... the famous cities are not what you think they are.

I wrote this while in Prague: "These beautiful cities that I've dreamed about, they're just that. They are dreams. Facades. And if I turn my face to the sky, they'll stay that way. The gaudy buildings seductively embrace the clouds. 'Look,' they whisper 'I'm beautiful.' But if I look straight forward and at eye level, I see the truth. The people are exploiting the city. The Rape of Europa comes from within. They are glutting themselves by gutting their own cities. Cheap souvenirs and foreign food choke the streets. Take a back road and you'll see the hastily--but methodically--covered up truth. The graffiti of the Forgotten mars the ancient buildings.  There is no love for their city because their city is not for them. Their city courts the people who crave pizza and french fries and cheap guided tours. The city has grown old and forgotten its own name."

I guess I realized that some cities have ceased to be genuine. The main streets are geared towards selling cheap gifts or expensive clothes to tourists.

And then there is Dresden. Dresden who takes the graffiti and turns it into art. Who doesn't hide its apprehensive inhabitants... it hails them. It hands them aerosol cans and empty walls and pleads "Make me beautiful." It hasn't forgotten its past, but it isn't fleeing its future.

If given the chance, I would go back to Rome or Prague in a heartbeat. But I would live in Dresden.

My romanticized vision of Europe burst like and ethereal bubble.

The genuine truth is much better.

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