far too much writing, far too many photos

[continued from previous entry]

Being met at the door by two humans happy to see me, two kitties lurking in the background, checking out me, the intruder. (A strange aspect of staying with G. & S.: two cats who don’t really like physical contact with humans, a quality that torpedoes one of the big joy factors for me with cats — stroking, rubbing, cuddling, purring, etc.). Entering a comfortable, friendly space, dumping travel bags into a small room reserved just for me. Chatting, catching up, enjoying wan sunlight extending in through tall windows. Body gradually slowing down after 3+ hours of driving down interstates at excessively high velocity.

Cranking up my laptop at some point, slipping into wireless freedom and enjoying it to a degree that would be difficult to express without sounding like a dope. That simple, basic freedom of being able to plug into the web from anywhere in a living space — it’s not a part of my situation in Vermont, at least at the house, the only two available options being dial-up and satellite. Dial-up? We won’t go there. Satellite? Better than dial-up, but not true high-speed — not even close — and it will not cooperate with a router. (All kinds of attempts have been made, even calling in professional geeks. Final result: throwing in the towel.) That sudden, nearly limitless freedom blended with the deep relaxation from being where I was felt better than I could mold into words without sounding like a dope.

I had on the deep winter version of north country duds: warm clothing over a layer of thermals. What I’m accustomed to pulling on when the cold season really takes hold in Vermont, dressing that way until winter weather slowly starts loosening its grip months later. G. & S. live in the kind of classic urban flat where the building is joyously overheated, radiators enthusiastically pumping out a kind of warmth that my bod had not experienced since summertime, was simply not prepared for. I made small adjustments, my teeny brain not absorbing the change in environmental reality until I got that opening shirt, rolling up sleeves were only forcing my sweat glands to go online in an attempt to cool the system. At some point I realized there was no need to struggle, that I’d been freed from north country winter, so pulled off thermals, tossed them aside. And the relaxation process shifted into a much deeper mode. I found myself feeling content like I would be hard-pressed to describe without sounding like, er, a dope.

A workaround re: the no-physical-contact thing with the cats: getting them happy with a laser pointer. G.&S. keep a hefty two-battery pointer in a kitchen drawer, from the cats’ reaction I’m the only one who ever gets it out — they hear the sound of the drawer opening, they wander in, attention piqued. I aim, a dot of red light appears on the floor near them, beginning round after round of wholesome fun. The more standoffish of the two never seems to tire of chasing that elusive dot and now appears to associate my arrival at the flat with bouts of playtime ecstasy. I try not to disappoint.

So. Hanging out with G.&S., catching up, and the occasional fun of tormenting entertaining kitties. Followed by a late-afternoon drive to Christmas dinner, a major affair at the home of friends of G.&S. Friends who are apparently gourmet cooks. All activity centered around the kitchen, bowls and platters of finger-food and entrees food piling up, food prep. happening all around. The air alive with conversations and aromas, glasses of wine being poured, the number of attendees steadily growing (overwhelmingly female). We arrived close to 4 p.m. — when dinner commenced just after 6, at least 14 people squeezed in around a table slathered with all kinds of stupendous-looking chow.

The house was located in Newton, a sprawling Boston ‘burb. One of the local subway lines — in this case above-ground — ran through the neighborhood, the tracks up on a long berm. The ‘hood was surprisingly green, or would be green in the warm season, making the silhouette of the berm less intrusive than it might otherwise be. When a train passed, it slipped quickly by, gone almost before it registered. From inside the house it sounded like distant wind, the black shape of the train appearing and disappearing, leaving the dark form of the berm visible through bare branches, the deepening blue of the early evening sky above it. Reminded me of life near the El in Queens, N.Y., (where my time in this clownshow we call life got underway) — a sound that came and went throughout the day, providing a kind of romantic urban soundtrack (long as you didn’t have to live right next to it).

[continued in entry of January 23]

EspaƱa, te echo de menos

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