this is our last chance: love

Written by Swati

And for my last weekend, it’s one chock full of repeats. A weekend full of the old, to find where the new has filled in the gaps. Le Centre Pompidou, shopping at Muse, meeting friends at Fox Coffee, and Indian food at Le Vallee du Kashmir. 

I love the Centre Pompidou. I love it because I hate it. It’s confusing and disconcerting and the exhibits consistently knot up my veins and crinkle up the folds in my brain. They’re disturbing and distressing, which means they strike a chord in me. The works rampage through my brain, French modernism is eons beyond my art comprehension. Sure, much of it is lines and squares, eerie videos and whispering audio files, but art disturbs the comforted and comforts the disturbed. My first visit to the modern art museum was my second weekend abroad. I was lost and confused, and I found comfort in piecing the science fiction exhibit together. And it gives me such joy to know that the very same things that comforted me, now disturb me. 

Modern art reminds me of my favorite English teacher in high school who also taught art history and yearbook (she was a very busy woman), but always made time for what mattered. She told us we were art, pressed sunflower seeds in our hands and said the world was ours. Her classroom was a sanctuary, her teachings sacred. When I’m empty inside, I look for her in the corners of paintings and sculptures. I look for the art she sees everywhere. And this weekend, I could feel her hand in my life. Her warmth seeping out of my smile, her gentle nature caressing flower petals.  

A particular painting moved me, the one above, sans titre. I spent a good 15 minutes sat in front of it. Pulling the characters apart, what they must be thinking, how they’ve lived, how they’re interconnected, how my perception of them is altered based on my perspective, what doors they unlock in my heart. I reach a dismayed conclusion: maybe we’re all doomed after all. Maybe we actually will leave the world as we enter it: alone. Maybe happiness is a task too heavy for us to carry out with our own two hands. But that can’t be it. 

We haven’t entered the world alone. What of the doctors and the nurses that spent months making sure we’d enter safely? What of the friends that press flowers into our hands and light candles on the day we entered this world? What of the smiles of strangers on the street? What of every single person who has pulled out threads of happiness tangled deep in the fabric of our hearts? Perhaps we are patchwork quilts, full of knitted squares where the goodness of the outside world seeps in one seam at a time. 

After I was satisfied with my level of unsettlement, I marched off to Fox Coffee to find my friends after an intense game of Go. We had a conversation about the merits and flaws of modern art, but at the end of the day, I believe we need more spaces to force us to think autonomously in an oversaturated world of thought. Sometimes you must be given the time, space, and material to form your own opinions. Listen a little closer to your lost heart. It’ll always have something to say. 

I ended off the evening by getting matching color changing polar bear lamps for my little sister and I from Flying Tiger and heading to get Indian food with another friend. I try not to eat too much Indian food my mom hasn’t made. Not that it isn’t any good, just that I’m picky and my mom has a special hand when it comes to cooking. But sometimes you get a bite of chicken tandoori that’s just unbeatable. Sharing a meal with a friend over sweet, rose lassis reminded me of community and starting deep connections off with shared meals and easy smiles. By the time we made it back to the dorm I was convinced I had spent the absolute perfect last weekend in Metz. 

Maybe love is all we have. Maybe love is all we need. Maybe love is our gravity, that which pulls us towards each other.