far too much writing, far too many photos

[Continued from last entry]

As I headed down Mass. Ave, approaching Haskell Street, I could feel something internal cranking up, an anticipation of some kind, mostly having to do, I think, with deeply mixed feelings re: moving my life up to northern Vermont at the end of this last year. I’ve been down this way two other times in the last four months, both times coming into Cambridge via the same route, both times feeling that sense of anticipation on approaching Haskell. On those occasions, I felt a pang of something on actually passing the street — regret, longing, melancholy. Nearly 20 years of this life passed during my time in Cambridge, enough time to cover several different lifetimes, accumulating history, experiences, good memories. This time on driving by, turning a quick glance down the street’s orderly progression of older houses and tree-shaded sidewalks, the anticipation evaporated, sans melancholy, etc. Life’s moved along. The passing days feel great, the coming days hold the promise of more of the same.

From that point on, Mass. Ave. becomes more urban, heading into Porter Square, one of the city’s main points of transit, stores and restaurants, with a resulting concentration of people and traffic.

The apartment I’m staying in is on Arlington Street, on the southern outskirts of Porter Square. A lovely, comfortable, old-time city apartment in a large, old-time city apartment building, a long brick structure of several stories, long enough that it has two front courtyards, each with an entrance to the building. A kind of edifice I remember from visits to relatives in New York City during my childhood years — gracious, well-built. A kind of place I wouldn’t mind living in.

So. Yesterday morning, I had to get up early to bring my car in for maintenance. I awoke with part of a David Bowie song going through my head, a verse of “Moonage Daydream” from the Ziggy Stardust album, repeating itself over and over:

Keep your ‘lectric eye on me, babe
Put your ray gun to my head
Press your space face close to mine, love
Freak out in a moonage daydream, oh yeah!

(Lyrics by David Bowie)

Where did it come from? Why that song, that verse? Who the hell knows?

I drag myself in and out of the shower, I do the shaving bit, pull on some clothes, go out into the morning (blinking with bleariness), find my car — all the time with Ziggy zipping through my head. I turn on the radio, find WMBR, the M.I.T. student radio station. A song by a band I’m not familiar with is playing, the Bowie fragment in my head gets replaced with:

I don’t get no satisfaction,
All I want is easy action,
Yeah!
Hey, hey, hey!

I drop the car off (Yeah!), take a long walk from the Arlington-Somerville line into Davis Square, passing stores and restaurants like:

Divine Signs
Complex Hair Design
Yum Yum — Chinese Cuisine
Skin Skedaddle — Skincare Clinic

(Hey, hey, hey!)

According to dictionary.com, BTW, the definition of the word ’skedaddle’ is To leave hastily; flee. Would anyone actually trust the care of their skin to an outfit whose name is synonymous with ’skin leave hastily’?

The day begins gray, I go to lunch with a friend down by the waterfront in Boston. I leave there, the sky suddenly clears, the hours pass.

Last night, my friend Woody and I decided to go over to East Cambridge, another working-class section of the city, this one settled by Portuguese. Cambridge Street, the main drag that runs from west to east through the district, features many Portuguese restaurants and bakeries, neither Woody nor myself had ever been to any of them. I lived here nearly 20 years; Woody was born in Cambridge. This shameful gap in our local experience needed to be rectified.

We find a likely-looking place, we sit down, they immediately bring us plates of black olives, feta cheese, bread, other finger food. Three acoustic guitarists play Portuguese numbers. The waitresses are from Brazil and Portugal, all looking like the kind of woman I got used to in Madrid. The woman waiting on us brings me a bottle of Portuguese beer, a good lager, clearly a first cousin to the Spanish beers I became accustomed to having with dinner in Madrid. Two huge salads arrive, followed by large platters of pork, potatos, vegetables. I’m eating, I’m watching the activity around the restaurant, I’m listening to the Portuguese being spoken by various diners. I’m thinking, damn, I’m back on the Iberian peninsula — no wonder it all feels so good. Woody let me talk about Madrid some, something that — surprisingly, to me anyway — most people here don’t seem to want to hear much of. I’m thinking I’ll be heading back to that amazing city come November or December, I’ll stay for a while, as long as I can manage. That’s what I’m thinking now, anyway. We’ll see what happens as the coming weeks unfold.

Today I’m off to spend the afternoon and evening with friends, one of them a smart, wacky, rebellious character who’s fun to hang with. I may not be back online again ’til I’m back in northern Vermont, tomorrow night or Monday. Or whenever.

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