far too much writing, far too many photos

Sunday morning: woke up in that same small bedroom/office. Once again: clothed, sleeping on top of the covers, all that. Once again, not a bad night of sleep, though a bunch more would have been pretty sweet. The big project of that day: setting up a flat-screen TV that I’d brought back with me from Vermont.

That TV: the one big indulgence from when I’d sold my house a year and a half earlier. Not used much, lately languishing in my storage compartment in Montpelier gathering dust. I’d offered it (as a loan, though possibly a permanent one depending on how my life — always goofily difficult to predict — goes) to G.&S., the friends who were providing me shelter, company, a place to sleep during this visit. They liked the idea, I crammed it into my teeny rental car, brought it back with me from Vermont. We set it up, discovered I’d neglected to bring its power cable, I scooted to a nearby Radio Shack for a new one. In no time at all, it was up and running, G.&S. watching football.

Monday morning: Woke up in that same small bedroom/office, all details equal to previous mornings. A travel day for me, a work day for G.&S. G. gave me a farewell hug (not expecting to see me again for a long, long time) and fled. I dtagged S. down the Avenue for caffeine, dragged her in that same direction a few hours later for Mexican chow. Packed up, said see-ya, aimed my rental car toward Logan Airport. Dropped off car, caught shuttle bus to terminal. Walked in to discover that I’d managed to get the day of my departure wrong, only the second time in this life of mine that I’ve done that. (Yes, I’m sure there are individuals who have managed to wend their way through the minefield we call existence without ever experiencing the shot of adrenaline that comes with this realization –- trust me, they don’t know what they’re missing. Beats caffeine all to hell, strengthens the heart, transforms one state of being from half-awake into cosmically wide-awake in a fraction of a second.) My flight, it turned out, was the following day, leaving me with the quandary of what to do with myself. G.&S. had just put up with me for three entire days, now had their flat back to themselves, a state of liberty I did not want to destroy. I stared around, pondering the idea of holing up in a hotel for the next 24 hours (interestingly, not a prospect that excited me), found myself dialing my cellphone, heard S. pick up, sounding, well, not suspicious exactly on hearing my voice — more like cautious, confused. Wondering, maybe, if something terrible had happened.

I think I asked for a hotel recommendation, heard her invite me back (once she’d recovered from this unforseen turnaround), me protesting weakly (sincerely not wanting to impose any more, but also still in a slight state of shock, not sure what to do with myself). Found myself making the bus/subway ride back to Cambridge, found myself at the entry to S.&G.’s building, finger on buzzer. Found myself back in their warm, comfy flat, S. welcoming me with good-natured, slightly wry kindness.

Dumped bags, grabbed camera, headed out to take a walk along Beacon Street and the Cambridge/Somerville line for a while, part of that idea being to leave S. to work. Only it turned out she didn’t want to, and we went for a good long walk, me stopping to snap photos now and then, Herself bearing it all patiently.

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The last morning in October — Madrid:

España, te amo

Back in Madrid, thinking about the last seven days.

One week ago, in Montpelier: the tail end of a fast 48-hour visit, weather turning cold, gray, not wildly pretty. .Up early to bring the car in for inspection, the one big question being the tires. Eating a fast b&b breakfast surrounded by young lawyers. Racing out into cold and light snow, dry leaves racing along streets before chilly breezes.

Snow. Then a wave of rain. Then waves of hail. Then back to snow. Vermont looking austerely beautiful, remnants of color standing out among grays, silvers, browns, the muted color of evergreens.

On the highway by noon, heading south, light snow blowing across interstate lanes that wound up and down hilly countryside. Skies gradually opening up, sunshine taking hold. Weather way more user-friendly in Massachusetts, Cambridge feeling positively warm compared with prematurely frozen Vermont.

Sat. morning: woke up in the small bedroom/office friends let me use when they open their home to me (something they do with amazing, outrageously generous regularity — ). Fell asleep as I had both nights in Vermont — fully clothed, on top of the covers, under a single loose blanket. With a light on. Don’t ask me why. That’s what I felt the need to do.

Not a bad night of sleep overall. Not a full dose of z’s by any stretch, but considering how slowly my bod had adjusted to the time change during previous trips, not bad. Both friends were out that morning, I pulled my bleary self together, stumbled down Mass. Ave. to the neighborhood café — an excellent, genuine café, not one more stupidly overpriced Starbucks — did what I could to come to consciousness, in preparation for an afternoon outing in downtown Boston.

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Diner window, Halloween style — Cambridge, Mass.:

España, te amo

Sitting at a dining room table in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The morning outside gray and cool. A friend sitting next to me working her way through a big bowl of fruit/yogurt, reading the Sunday paper sports section. Me still a bit bleary, taking hours and hours to come to.

Arrived in the States Tuesday afternoon after a direct flight from Madrid to Boston. (The good part of Iberia’s direct flights: they’re direct. And you’re in a big metal tube, sheltered from the elements instead of strapped to the outside of the plane, waving in the wind. The less wonderful parts of the direct flights: mediocre food, mediocre in-flight entertainment (on a few less-than-strategically placed screens scattered around the cabin instead of mounted in the back of seats like you’ll get with British Airways, Aer Lingus, American Airlines). All that said, the fact that the flight’s direct, no stopovers in Amsterdam, Paris, London or Dublin is a huge plus. Huge.)

Got rental car, made it to home of friends just as rush hour got underway. Unwound until friend got home, went out do a nice dinner. Spent the usual first jet-lagged night, meaning minimal sleep. Drove up to Vermont the next morning to begin two days of STUFF that needed to be done.

Lovely color in Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. Color mostly gone in Vermont, countryside looking serenely austere. Serene, chilly, but nice. The nice part kind of ebbed away over the next 48 hours as things needing to be done got done and ugly weather moved in. By Friday morning, snow fell. Snow, sometimes hail, and at one point heavy rain, changing back to snow.

Did not have a wonderful time in Montpelier, honestly. My bod had been going through… something… that left me with little ability to breathe. Made the simplest things torturous, especially when involving stairs or uphill grades of even the slightest angles. Got to my doctor, left with some medications, began taking them praying for relief. Which did not come until I fled back south to Massachusetts on Friday, weather changing to something more user-friendly, my bod heaving a sigh of relief, slowly returning to its normal state of happily breathing in and out.

Have spent the last two days squatting at the home of those same long-suffering friends, leaching off their wifi, wandering around Cambidge/Boston snapping far too many pics. Happy.

And happy is what counts.


Detail of wall in an art studio for children — Cambridge, Massachusetts:

España, te amo

You know, every now and then I return to my flat after time spent skipping around the city, and as I approach the door, sometimes as I insert the key into the lock, my bladder seems to wake up, look around, realize where we are, and go, ‘Woo-hoo! Home again! Dump the ballast!!!’ And as if a switch had been flicked, I find myself assaulted by a powerful urge to water the metaphoric flowers.

Memo to said bladder: I’m pleased you’re in good health. It’s wonderful that you continue functioning as you should. But when it comes to these sudden moments of joyously looking to unload on arriving home, it would be bitchen if you could modulate your youthful enthusiasm and carry on as if conditions were normal. ‘Cause they are. They should be.

T-shirts seen recently:
‘Recycle or DIE.’
‘I’m SORRY!’

The day after the general strike I mentioned in the last post, the major left-wing newspaper characterized the strike as moderately successful. Big industry: mostly shut down. Bus service: minimal, with striking workers attempting to disrupt service in some places. Most news kiosks were closed, some businesses were as well, but for the most part life on the local level carried on more or less normally, with one major difference — traffic on the main drag out in front of my building seemed noticeably thinner, more tranquil. I liked it.. (The major right-wing paper’s day-after edition ran the following headline: HUELGA FRACASADA! (FAILED STRIKE!) Anyone who tried getting around the city on the day of the event saw no evidence of failure on the part of striking workers.)

Meanwhile, the days continue slipping by with unnerving stealth. The fact that we are now well into October leaves me just about speechless. Darkness falls ever earlier, the nights get longer, chillier. Autumn has a firm grip on the look and feel of the days, though so far the only falling leaves are brown/yellowish from lack of rain. Autumn reds/yellows/oranges are nowhere to be seen.

In two weeks, I’ll be briefly back in the northeast U.S. With any luck, I’ll get a shot of autumn color there.

España, te amo

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