The day was hot, unseasonably so. I was downtown and had another appointment in two hours. There was enough time to grab a bite to eat after the noon rush. But that left me with about an hour to kill. Not time to do much, but too much time to do nothing.
I walked toward Caesar Chavez Plaza mulling over several options I could choose to pass the time. Easily within walking distance were the Tech, the Children’s Discovery Museum, the Quilt Museum, and the San Jose Art Museum. Each offered unique, intriguing, and unstructured possibilities.
I have been to each and at last decided on the Art Museum. The Whitney Landscapes Collection was still there but would be leaving soon. Although I had seen it, I knew there would be new exhibits in the other galleries.
I entered the museum and decided to stroll quickly through the Whitney one more time. My brisk gait slowed as I walked through the galleries. Paintings that I recognized halted me as I reconsidered them. Details not remembered suddenly caught my eye. Others less familiar began to take on meaning. A few–notably the striking landscapes of New Mexico by Georgia O’Keefe and Marsden Hartley–stopped me in my tracks. Since last I saw them, I had visited this land of enchantment and the shapes and colors in these paintings resonated strongly in my memory.
My quick stroll turned into leisurely meandering. I, once again, wandered through the galleries entranced. Time stood still. Visions drifted through my head. I left having easily consumed my extra hour.
Across the street, the fountain in the Plaza–that magnificently accessible collection of columns of water erupting right out of the earth–perfectly punctuated the heat of the day. The water shot up from the pavement to about the height of a fifth-grader. I sat on a bench at the edge of the park and watched as children, teenagers, adults splashed in the spray, ran through the geysers, laughed, screeched, and screamed in delight.
The columns increased, shooting high in the air. This re-creation of the sprinklers I had run through in my youth tempted me. The day was hot enough that had I been at my leisure, I would have joined in. I knew what it felt like to get soaked in such heat, to have water dripping off your nose and your ears, to have your soggy clothes cling to your body. I was ready to do it again.
Two ordinary events in an ordinary day, but far removed from commonplace. For these occurrences the modern phrase “been there, done that” with its implication of “Nevermore” did not apply.
There are many things I have not done. I am always ready for a new experience. But taking pleasure in repeated events and travelling familiar territory with a mental road map already in place is itself a fresh experience. Most of the time to “Been there, done that”, I would add “…and would do it again”.