He thought it would be fun to climb to the top; I don't do heights, crowds or enclosed spaces, so decided to park myself on a bench and knock off a few rows on a current project.
Felt like a happy turtle basking in the sun. Also enjoyed the waves of different languages washing over me. A large family of Spanish speakers was sitting on the steps of the monument in the shade enjoying a picnic lunch. Listened to the strange French of a number of Canadian teenagers next to the Latin family who were draping themselves against the columns and mugging for the camera. From behind me, caught the beautiful English (and this is, honestly, the flower of our Language) of an Indian couple playing on the lawn with a whole bunch of toddlers while the rest of the extended family climbed stairs.
Glanced up periodically from my work to look at the handsome as anything middle aged man on the bench next to mine as he compared the English Language site map with a Japanese one. While I was admiring the fellow next to me's cheekbones and crow-colored hair shot through with silver, the three Australian ladies who were sharing a bench with me left. Taking their place was a young fellow in baggy jeans and flip flops who looked surprisingly like me. Made no effort to hide his interest in my handwork or the pattern I referred to from time to time next to him. Glancing up as inobtrusively as possible, I tried to figure out where he was from. Eventually, his friend, a really pretty Latin-looking girl, sat down between us and they started chatting in something that was decidedly not Indo European. Took the brain a bit of channel surfing to figure out that it was Hebrew of all things.
Anyway, here I was resting in the center of what I honestly consider a new Athens marveling at the pilgrims to one of the monuments to honest, representative Democracy. Felt the words of (yeah, I'm going to call him that) an American Herodotus well up:
My spirit has pass'd in compassion and determination around the whole earth,
I have look'd for equals and lovers and found them ready for me in
I think some divine rapport has equalized me with them.
You vapors, I think I have risen with you, moved away to distant
continents, and fallen down there, for reasons,
I think I have blown with you you winds;
You waters I have finger'd every shore with you,
I have run through what any river or strait of the globe has run through,
I have taken my stand on the bases of peninsulas and on the high
embedded rocks, to cry thence:
What cities the light or warmth penetrates I penetrate those cities myself,
All islands to which birds wing their way I wing my way myself.
Toward you all, in America's name,
I raise high the perpendicular hand, I make the signal,
To remain after me in sight forever,
For all the haunts and homes of men.
Happy Birthday, Pavel, and Salut au Monde!