I have a love affair with Manet. Not Monet and his waterlilies. Manet.

Walking past paintings that I have idealized for years was like finally meeting a pen-pal after a hundred summers of letters. There, undeniably in front of me, were the brush strokes I had memorized, but never been able to fully envision. I could stand back and be mesmerized by the paintings for hours, but I’ve seen photographs in books that have kept me far enough from the artwork already. Standing just inches away you could see where the paint is so thin, the canvas still shines through, and although Manet didn’t paint with thick paint, you could still make out the bold marks he would have made with his hand right about where my face was. There lie proud Olympia. There were the bathers gazing out at me.

The museum boasts much more than Manet as well. Toulouse-Lautrec, Renoir, Degas, Serrat, Van Gogh and so many more are housed within the museum’s walls.

Ah, Van Gogh and your yellow paint eating habit, thank you for the madness that brought us this incredible artwork: the color combinations, the thick, delectable paint, the perspective. A large room was devoted to him and paintings I had never seen. Some of them, a feast for the eyes, others, experimental works that lead him to his greatness.

Standing in a long line and a sudden downpour was definitely a small price to make it into the museum. I just hope my eyes wont forget what the paintings really looked like, that they wont too quickly turn back into the distant photographs I already knew.