Meeting an Old Friend After a Year

Some places are like old friends. Time may pass between you, but when you return to them you find them there.

It’s not that they’re waiting for you. But they are welcoming without trying to, by simply being what they are.

A good old friend of mine is Herastrau Park, and recently I saw it again after more than a year.

It wasn’t forgetfulness that kept me away from it–only the pandemic.

Even though the situation wasn’t so bad here, I took a long retreat from most places to focus on my writing and just be–simply and without complications.

What is time between old friends?

I found the park unchanged save for a few old trees that had tired of gravity in one way or other.

Fallen old tree in park

How many times did I pass under their branches without paying any mind to them?

Now that they were not quite as vertical as usual I finally noticed them.

Tree trunk cut on park alley

Maybe that’s how parks count time–not in years like us, but in the trees they lose.

It was as if the place had gone through its own issues too during this time and overcame them to smile green and leafy.

There were some surprises too. Like these fellows.

turtles on a log in the water

Walking there, I felt the park remembered me too, in its green, leafy, chirpy way.

It was enough to look at the old alleys, at the reflections in the lake, at the tops of trees spreading over the sky to know it did.

Some places are like that, we don’t go to them but simply are one with them.

A Stroll Through Herastrau Park

view-from-herastrau-park

If I’d have to choose a favorite place on earth, it would be Herastrau Park.

It’s the place which, of all the places I kept going to over the years, feels as an extension of who I am the most.

Maybe because I had so many experiences there.

It’s the place I went to when skipping school.

Where I had my first date back in my teenage years.

And where I kissed a girl for the first time.

It’s the place where I met friends.

Or went strolling with my cousin.

It’s also the place I took my sorrow and sadness.

Where I went alone many times to meditate and be close to nature without distractions or interruptions.

I’ve been to more beautiful or interesting places over the years.

But to this park I kept returning, almost as if it called to me.

It was far enough from home for me to want to go to it.

But close enough for me to want to keep returning there.

Herastrau is the sort of park where everyone and their dog is welcome.

It’s a good place for romance, meditation, sport, and everything in between.

With the pandemic, I haven’t been going to Herastrau in quite some time.

So I went through some of the photos I took in it over the years.

Let’s take a stroll together through it…