The Huntington Library in Pasadena has always been one of those mystical memories from when I was very young. There was this picture from my grandparents wall of photos that showed myself at around age 4 strolling through the rose garden with my mom and grandmother with my baby brother in his stroller. I remember bits and pieces of the library (like seeing the famous Blue Boy and Pinkie paintings) but that photo was always the focal point to my memories there. I also remember being very upset when it was my time to leave this place of wonder and, despite my yearning, I hadn't been back since.
My girl and I decided to celebrate our 2 year anniversary by visiting this place I talked so fondly of. But my vague memories couldn't even begin to describe to me how beautiful this place is. Between several buildings filled with amazing pieces of artwork to the Japanese and Chinese gardens to the Rose Gardens and all the amazing marble Greek statues scattered around the 200 acres, this place was a sight to behold. I had no idea how gorgeous the Library was and I was saddened that it took so long to return. There was a sense of tranquility and peace among the grounds and I found on several occasions myself taking deep breaths and exhaling some of my stress out of my core (something that eludes me most of the time nowadays). My girl even commented how nice it was to see me smile earnestly again (something else that has been absent from my day-to-day life lately).
As peaceful as it was to sit in the Chinese gardens and taking in the beauty of the lake there, there were two moments that made me take pause and share a moment with Father Time. The first was standing before Blue Boy and marveling at the painting itself. I had been told by my parents how great a painter Gainsborough was but my 4-year old counterpart couldn't even fathom how right they were. His use of paint to make the clothes look almost ethereal was crazy impressive to me. You can see how the light seems to shimmer on the fabric and was even more apparent on the other Gainsborough pieces in the gallery. I felt, for a brief moment, that I could recollect standing in that exact spot and seeing this piece as a lad and only now could appreciate the piece in its entirely.
The other moment gave my goosebumps and actually made me stop to reflect. As we were walking in the Rose Garden to the cafe, I suddenly realized that we were standing exactly where that photo on my grandparents wall depicted my family all those years ago. I felt myself truly regress to age 4 and looked around the trellis hallway we stood in and smiled so wide my cheeks still feel it. It was a full-circle moment for me; as if I had completed a quest that took me 36 years to complete.
I can't recommend this place enough to everyone. As I write this blog, my eyes are tearing up and my face has that 4-year old blissful smile plastered on it. The Library has something for everyone and I cannot wait for my return visit to this Eden of Art (hopefully sooner that another 36 years).