Saturday, April 24, 2010


Oh, Nice. I reiterate, Nice is pronounced niece and it is the unofficial capital of the French Riviera. I've gotta say, its a kind of weird place. I'd been told that the most important part of the Nice experience was going into the city's old town, and so I set out to see it. I wound up getting sidetracked along the way by a mile long stretch of shopping bliss. I'm not really that big of a shopper but the friends I was with were desperate for some Longchamp bags and so I spent hours with them looking at this color and that size. Before I knew it, half the day had gone by and all I wanted was to get into town and see Old Nice. I was so anxious to get there that when I finally did I had that reaction, the reaction one has when they are on a road trip and in 100 miles there is the world's largest ball of yarn and at every mile marker you anticipate this giant ball of yarn and when you finally drive the 100 miles all you see is just one giant ball of yarn. Same situation with Old Nice. There was a water fountain, some pretty palm trees, and multi-colored buildings. Cool. It was more interesting shopping for Longchamp bags. However, I call Nice a weird place because while I was in this sqaure I noticed these strange sculptures lining the roads of pale men in strange positions. They were situated on tall poles and were so out of place with my surroundings that I really appreciated them. They looked like the blue dude from Watchmen and I couldn't stop staring upwards at these strange men in the sky. Thank God for these, because without them Nice failed to interest me.

Until the next day. I sprung up out of my bed aroung 9 a.m., threw on my bathing suit, and booked it down to the beaches of Nice. I'd done a little research and knew I wasn't going to be lying on a smooth, sandy beach. No, I was going to lay my towel out on a pebble beach. I don't know how many of you have been to one of these, but they are difficult to handle. Not only are you lying on uncomfortable stones that can't ever be rearranged into something vaguely resembling the shape of your body, but they leave your skin and towels chalky and heat up to ridiculous temperatures so that your body is very literally being cooked.
Whatever, I didn't care. I sprawled out on that pebble beach and didn't get back up until 3 p.m. By the time I left Nice my skin had effectively changed color completely and I felt pretty darned good about it. I happen to love tan lines. Anyway, being on a pebble beach is odd for any regular beach bum, and so I count this is strike two in the Nice is weird game.

I had a series of minor epiphanies on this beach, though, and this struck me as very strange, too. I couldn't stop having these breakthroughs about myself and life and people. It was just weird. My mind was on some sort of crazy genius kick. I don't know what it about the French Riviera that made me feel so poetic; perhaps it was the influence of F. Scott. All I know is that as I sat there gazing out at that turquoise horizon I saw the world expanding in my view. For a while, its been shrinking. Every new place I go, I feel like I shrink the world a bit. But when I looked at the ocean I saw endless possibility. Epiphany 1. I looked away from the horizon and toward the sky. Nice is very close to an airport and when one lies on this beach they might notice overhead a steady incoming and outgoing of aeroplanes. I really lost it when I was looking at them. WHAT THE FUCK? Have you ever really thought about planes? People say that the laws of gravity can't be broken and this is essentially true, but really, planes come pretty fucking close. Millions of passengers fly through the air every single day at impossible speeds on planes. Epiphany 2. Right after I noticed all the sailboats and realized that for centuries man has been defying gravity in these.And religion. Man can't walk on water like Jesus, no, but he can build gigantic steel ships that can float on water through massive waves and storms without sinking. Oh, and he can build submarines that go underneath the ocean so far that certain fish can't even survive the pressure. Genuis. Seriously. Epiphany 3. I had a number of these epiphanies, not all having to do with science. I had a surpluss of novel ideas, mused about love and friendship, and thought of a new series of paintings I want to work with. Nice, it seems, is my natural thinking cap.

When I finally got up I took a walk. I hiked up the side of a cliff to sit underneath a manmade waterfall and look out at the Riviera. Yes, the view was picture perfect. The waterfall was really spectacular. I have no complaints other than that it seems that this hike is the gnat hub of Europe. I literally had to push them aside to make it through, they were so thickly and densely concentrated. Yuck. I walked back, stopping in the cutest cupcake bakery in the entire world and refusing myself the pleasure of eating anything because I'd regret it if I did. Its just nice to know that cupcakes exist in Europe, I guess. I can say that I left Nice wonderfully contented regardless of how strange I felt I'd acted, how strange I felt the place was, and how much differnt I was as I was leaving.
Arrivederci, for now.
Love, Gabby.

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