On this trip, I have a secret mission. It’s to figure out who I am, now that the dissertation is done. Who I am and what I want to do, because now that the dissertation is done, I have the time to become that person, to do those things. But of course, you can’t simply decide who you are. It’s a process of discovery.
The pictures I’m going to post today are from Kensington Gardens, where I went on my first full day in London after visiting Hyde Park. The picture below is the Peter Pan statue.
If you look at it right, every experience can teach you about yourself, about who you are at the core. Because you will respond to those experiences, and you can examine your own responses. This sounds like a bit of an arduous process, I know. But I think that many people are actually mistaken about who they are. They think they are one thing and are actually another. You can live like that, but you can’t write like that. I would venture to say that all of the arts, even music and dance, require self-knowledge. And honestly, I feel as though I lost myself for a while there. It’s only been in the last two years that I’ve started finding myself again, figuring out who I am at the core. Because I think the core doesn’t change: what I am, I was at twelve, and will likely be at eighty-two.
Kensington Gardens is quite different from Hyde Park. It’s larger, more open: there are more areas of just grass and trees. I entered it by the Peter Pan statue, which is next to the Long Water, which is basically a continuation of the Serpentine. It’s a long lake with ducks, geese, all sorts of waterfowl. And then I walked along the lake until I came to one of the most beautiful parts of the park, the Italian Garden.
After walking around the Italian Garden, I left the park for just a moment and took a picture of the street. This is a picture of a London street, but quite a posh street, since it’s next to the park. Think of New York next to Central Park: that’s what it reminded me of.
But then I turned and walked through the leafy avenues of Kensington Park. It was cool and lovely under the long alleys of linden trees.
Finally, I visited Kensington Palace. I paid to go in, and at first I thought I had wasted my money (it was £15!), because the palace itself is in the process of being refurbished, and so many of the items that are usually there weren’t. But I was in luck, because instead there was a exhibit focused on the reign of Queen Victoria, who had grown up there. And I saw many things that I don’t think I would have seen otherwise: two pairs of her stockings (one for her wedding, one from when she was in mourning), her personal jewelry, a piece of Honiton lace she had worn as part of her wedding veil. So now I know what Honiton lace looks like and why it was considered so precious. It really is the most beautiful lace that I think I’ve ever seen. Here is the statue of Queen Victoria in front of Kensington Palace.
And I gained new respect for Prince Albert, seeing how much time he spent working on the Great Exhibition, how much thought he put into it. He did not have to be so enterprising; he would simply have done nothing for the rest of his life. But instead, he did a great deal for Britain and the public good. He’s become a figure of fun because the monument to him in Kensington Gardens is so extravagant, and I have to admit that it does look like a bit of Las Vegas that has landed in an English park. But I like Prince Albert.
In the café in Kensington Palace, I had what was one of the best meals I had in London, although it was so simple: a cheese sandwich with a sort of sweet relish, and a ginger beer. (Ginger beer, by the way, is nothing at all like American ginger ale.
Since I started writing this blog post, a storm has sprung up in Debrecen. I may lose my internet connection, so I’m going to post what I have now. More on finding myself in the next blog post.