I was born with an insatiable case of wanderlust. As a young, curly-haired Charlotte, I would trace my little fingers across a globe or the many weathered maps my parents kept around the house and I began to imagine life outside of the suburbs of New York. In a way, Europe was omnipresent in my nuclear family. My mother is German and refused to speak English with me or my brother in an effort to preserve her culture and give us the tools we needed to live a bilingual life. My parents spoke only French in the house. They had met and fallen in love in Paris and I’m sure they only spoke French when they didn’t want us to understand certain things.
I was seven when I boarded a Lufthansa flight by myself to see my grandparents in Germany. That first trip without adult supervision was an eye-opening experience for me. I was given an airplane pin by the pilot after a tour of the cockpit and the sweet flight attendant checked on me frequently, bringing me gum and making sure I was okay throughout the duration of the flight.
One day, I won’t need assistance getting on and off the airplane, I remember thinking to myself just as I spotted my oma and opa at the arrival gate in Frankfurt.
My love of travel never wavered. I studied abroad in Heidelberg, Germany (quite possibly the best experience in my life), I stayed in countless hostels, and lived for a time off of gelato and cheese sandwiches. Life was delicious.
But I never made it to Giverny, home of Claude Monet’s well-tended gardens, waterlilies, and Japanese bridge. Why is this so important? Because of this book:
I had this book in German and English and I read it constantly. Something about Monet and his love of his wife Camille and gardening and art… there was just so much romance in that man’s heart that it spilled into everything he touched. So when I found out that the New York Botanical Garden was doing a tribute to the French impressionist, I mentioned it to Bryan who was also eager to see the exhibit. We took many photos of the vibrant flowers, gazed at the waterlilies imported from Monet’s estate, stared longingly at the artist’s palette, and watched a 50-minute documentary on the artist’s life (personally, I would suggest skipping this. It was a bit of a snoozefest, to be honest).
Some parts I wasn’t crazy about. I was expecting the actual exhibit to be a bit bigger and was disappointed that most of the flowers were encased in a greenhouse, instead of giving them the free-spirited feel I always imagined they would have flanking the property. And the Japanese bridge was constantly inundated with tourists who wanted a photo op. Which I suppose is understandable. Hell, I wanted one, too!
All that said, it was the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. We got some sun showers, I was able to take off my Birkenstocks and dig my feet into the grass, and watch squirrels and chipmunks play. And then I watched as a girl flirted with Bryan at one of my favorite vegan spots in the city… but she gave us a large slice of cake to take home so it was all good.
And this is when my camera died. I did take more, but they were not of the actual exhibit. I’m grateful that Bryan had his much nicer camera fully charged to take the remaining pictures my dumb ass couldn’t capture.
Until I’m able to rent a bike and make my through the gardens at Giverny, this is a very nice (and much cheaper/convenient) substitute for anyone in the NYC area.