(recently just read this again and realized how dreadful this is, haha I was pretty tired when I wrote this and apparently feeling adjectives)

This morning, I woke up late, tired from a week of class (more of waking up for class) and trying to devour all of Paris and her monuments among frantic crowds of tourists who swamped the streets and the metro. This happened to be Heritage weekend, an event that happens once a year that allows the public to enter private homes, government sites, and museums for free. However, despite all this and my taking advantage of this weekend yesterday, I decided to run.

I ran for an hour through the Bois de Boulogne, a forest that resides across the street from my host family’s apartment. This was my first full venture into the woods.

The forest was beautiful, beautiful for all of the different shades of green and for the winding brooks with soft bubbles that trickled lazily downstream. Beautiful for the cavernous trees that drooped over one another, for the sunlight that danced off puddles of water and muck. Beautiful for the plump pigeons (some missing toes) who observed onlookers and for the blue jays who chattered and swept beneath tangled limbs and leaves. Beautiful for the runners, the strollers, the horseback riders, and the children at play. Beautiful for the nature before me.

However, like most beauty in life there is always a shadow nearby.

Besides the wonderful nature I saw today, I also saw trash on the ground near the entries of trails and streets. Specifically amongst this trash, there were multiple patches of torn square packaging and shards of latex strewn in the dirt. I saw two women who stood by the street that looped through the center of the forest. They were alone dressed in tight apparent clothing. They were not here for a lovely picnic, no wine and cheese at hand. I saw a man leaving these women, alone, both hands in his pockets, dressed for dinner, sheepish and out of place. The public walked past this sore scene, all heads turned the other way, mine just the same.

My host family warned me of this “happening” since my arrival in Paris. They forbade me to run at night.

At the time, I did not understand the reality of their concern until I ran and I saw today.

Therefore, with sadness, I must accept the two truths of the Bois de Boulogne, both beauty and tragedy. I must be “prudent” as my host father likes to say when I journey alone into the forest and the city. As of now, I understand that if one is aware of both beauty and tragedy, you are not pinned as the ignorant fool…but are you still not the fool for doing nothing at all.


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