far too much writing, far too many photos

Well. Here it is, the final day on this bizarre, week-long high-speed visit to Madrid and the English midlands. A beautiful early-spring day, turns out, in one of my favorite places on this miserable planet of ours, me actually remaining in one spot for an entire 24+ hours, not skidding off to catch a plane, head toward the horizon. The daylight hours to relax, eat, get some air, skip down the sidewalks in leisurely fashion, get a couple of errands done. Then the evening/nighttime hours to get all social and meet up with two — count ‘em: two — different friends, one Spanish, one American married to a Spanish type person. Just the prospect of such a perfect day had me happy like you would not believe.

And then they bailed. Both of them. (Bastards.) One claimed work, one sent a sketchy text message offering lameass excuses (’doctor’s visit,’ blahblahblah). Damn these people who don’t keep me at the very center of their existence — didn’t they get the memo in which I made it very clear that you (meaning everyone but me) are supposed to keep me occupied at the very least, though you (again, meaning everyone but me) should make a serious effort to go well beyond the minimum and keep me entertained? (Pause to grab a copy of that memo, underline key words with aggressive, jagged pen strokes, run off a few copies and shove in the proper mailboxes, grumbling the entire time like the kind of cranky old man who scowls at passersby on the street and has thickets of hair poking out ears and nostrils, wearing beat-up house slippers and ancient, urine-stained plaid pants.)

My response to being abandoned: hike a few blocks to a local turkish-food joint, jam some tasty chow down my throat, watch locals and tourists parade past the door in the ongoing show that characterizes life here. Then take a long, therapeutic walk. And then come back here to my comfy hotel room and bother people online. Not as much fun as the original agenda, but provides loads of time to bitch and moan at great, obnoxious lengths in both English and Spanish (both languages generously lace with profanities).

A strange week. Wonderful, joyful experiences on the one hand; on the other hand one entire night and two entire days spent dragging far too much luggage through public transport, waiting in deadly boring air terminal holding pens, crammed in teeny, tiny seats in big metal tubes hurtling across the sky (to the frequent soundtrack of children exercising their lungs). On the flight over from Boston, the five center seats in my row were occupied by an exceedingly short, 40ish Arab couple and their exceedingly young children. Which meant several hours of screaming and hyperactive behavior, parents attempting futilely to keep their progeny quiet and contained, followed by a sudden post-sugar crash, all three kids passing out at the same time.

Didn’t get much sleep that night. Add that to the minimal shut-eye in the couple of nights before leaving and I dragged my sorry (though adorable) hinder around Madrid in a shell-shocked funk that first day. Didn’t get a full eight hours that night, but what there was came deep and sweet, leaving me in a whole different frame of mind on the second day here, a nearly radiant state of pleasure at finding myself in the city that feels in so many ways like home. Liberated from winter, liberated from house and big-change-on-the-way concerns. (And liberated from screaming, undersized fellow passengers. Though car horns and the sounds of the ubiquitous, ongoing construction and public works that plague Madrid sometimes replaced the vocal work.)

Today could have been like that. Radiantly wonderful, I mean. But no, friends decided they had lives that needed their attention. (Grumble, grumble.)

Tomorrow: the trip back across the Atlantic, touching down in the Boston area, spending the night with G.&S. before stuffing adorable bum into trusty car, making the return slog north to deal with all that needs dealing with. (Pause for a moment of pathetic sniffling.)

Time to begin packing bags. Later.

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Today, along la Calle de Fuencarral, Madrid:

EspaƱa, te amo

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