El Buen Retiro

While surely I have a terrible habit of overdoing just about everything, going the extra mile to the point of collapse, and loving things to the point of arguable lunacy (??), I remain steadfast in my belief that some things are truly worth getting excited about. To live in a perpetual state of indifference is not living at all. You must be ready to gain satisfaction from the trivial things, so that when the monumental things come along, you fall almost prostrate in disbelief.

The latter experience fell upon me yesterday as I walked through Parque del Buen Retiro, or “Park of the Good/Pleasant Retreat.” One of Madrid’s oldest and largest parks, created– like so many other things in Spain–  per the decree of the Spanish monarchy (Queen Isabella, my partial namesake), is located adjacent to Museo del Prado, and a short walk from the majestic Plaza de Cibeles. Simple in landscape, yet overflowing with vibrant trees, flowers, fountains, and statues, walking through this park on a Friday afternoon left me in quiet, peaceful awe, so much so that the vision of it remains, intact, suspended in the center of my mind.

The man-made pond, Estanque del Retiro, is perhaps the most magical feature of the landscape, particularly when a smattering of little blue and white boats dance on top of it– boats filled with fathers and daughters, groups of friends attempting to tip one another over, and, above all, the young lovers of Madrid. Their poor attempt to steer the vessels while simultaneously professing their passion, enamored with one another was made more endearing and heartbreaking by the fact of their ignorance of los solteros that watched from the steps of the Alfonso XII monument, wistfully contented and quietly envious of the sight.

Eating gelato at the foot of a proud marble lion, now green in his old age, that relaxing emotion of (dare I say??) perfect contentment washed not only over me, but all El Retiro’s patrons as well. I watched the large sea-green sirens at the foot of the stairs, with their drenched long copper hair as they spewed water back into the pond like music, seeming to keep us there forever. As if anyone would protest. I like to think that maybe you’ll find in places like this, more than anything else, some better version of yourself that has been sitting patient all this time, just waiting to finally meet you.

 

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