far too much writing, far too many photos

[continued from entry of January 14]

Fourteen (or so) people making conversation, platters of food going in every direction, my hinder planted on a teeny little seat, me not caring a whole lot — glad to be part of this scene, happy to hoovering down a pile of real damn good Christmas dinner (my favorite part: the turkey molé) — until my plate was near empty and my body decided to go into hibernation mode (me short on sleep, post-traveling, post-a-kind-of-heat-i-wasn’t-used-to). Trying to keep head from dropping to chest — body slumping over, trying to get me to go face-first into the dinner remnants on my plate — was harder on what was essentially a low, postage-stamp sized stool than it would have been on a genuine, made-for-a-human-body dinner chair. I managed to remain conscious enough to note when the conversation turned to a book called Eat, Pray, Love, my ears picking up a bit about the author spending four months in Rome eating and socializing — a use of four months I could totally get behind. I conferred with S., sitting to my right, found out she had the book at home, asked if I could read it, got an affirmation, and returned contentedly to my post-meal stupor.

My contribution to the meal: a bottle of cava — essentially, Spanish champagne and generally a seductively light wine that goes well with, er, most anything to shameless, craven types like me. This bottle sported a label I was not familiar with, but I had hopes for it and a few individuals at the dinner seemed interested. So once I’d managed to convince the cork to come free, poured a glass and tried it out, I was disappointed to find it had a bitter edge, bitter enough that I felt the need to issue an advisory to anyone wanting to try it. One person, however — the other male present — paid my advisory no heed, liking it well enough to gulp down several glasses worth. Saving me the need of choking down more than my first glass, leaving the bottle empty by the end of the evening.

When people began getting up, I helped clear the table and drifted into the living room, making the mistake of planting myself on one end of a comfortable sofa. My body relaxed, my stupor deepened. Others drifted in, began trying to chat with me about life in Madrid — I tried responding, managed to get out a few words, trying to explain that my system was shutting down right then. They didn’t seem to understand, I probably seemed like a half-bright, not-very-social couch tuber.

One of the attendees had brought a basket of handmade sweets. Nut clusters, chocolate-dipped fruit, other diabolically tempting thingies. I saw people rummaging through it, picking out this and that, going into spasms of bliss upon eating. Me and sugar, well — let’s just bring up that old saw you can lock me and throw away the key, but you can’t keep my face from breaking out. I try to keep my distance, in general, and did pretty good work with there in that living room, as the coffee table disappeared under plate after plate of excellent looking desserts.

On the way to dinner, G.&S. asked me if fatigue would become an issue for me, I told them if it did I’d ask them about taking me home. But in the moment, in a cozy home filled with happy folks celebrating the holiday, I couldn’t bring myself to do that to my friends. And the longer we stayed, the weaker my no-dessert resolve became. Until finally, as people began getting up, saying long, long, drawn-out good-byes, I found myself on my feet gazing down into that basket, staring at gorgeous, inviting, artisan-made sweets, found myself reaching down for a chocolate-dipped dried apricot, found myself bringing it to mouth, biting into it. Experienced a near-orgasmic explosion of flavor, dark chocolate and apricot. Reached for another, managed to not stuff it into my mouth like a crazed, foaming primate, making a show of taking measured bites, chewing, swallowing. Like a sane, cultured human type person might. And before I could descend into total, embarrassing loss of self-control, G.&S. actually stepped out into the dark night with the rest of the guests. I followed, breathing chilly air, saying good-bye to other folks.

[continued in entry of February 7]

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Late January — Montpelier, Vermont:

España, te echo de menos

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