far too much writing, far too many photos

And so we’ve arrived once again at the pre-Christmas home stretch — the days flying by, the local world gearing up for the start of the season’s two-week core sprint: Christmas Eve/Christmas Day. (Both occasions for family gatherings and big dinners, followed by a few days’ rest before two more such occasions: New Year’s Eve and January 6, el Día de los Reyes Magos — the local holiday season finish line.) Me — having little in the way of biological family, not currently part of a couple, located thousands of miles from those I’d consider to be my family of friends — I drift through it all, soaking up the overall atmosphere, watching it all build to the long, sustained payoff.

Something about that in combination with the recent outing to the U.K. has put me in a place of serious reflection — a state that actually seemed to get underway upon stepping off the train in Bristol and has so far shown no sign of petering out. Though like everything in life, that could change at any time.

Trying to wrap words around it makes it sound intellectual — it’s not. Trying to stake it out on virtual paper would be simpler if it were, less likely to produce paragraphs of turgid blathering. I’m not looking to torture potential readers any more than I normally do, so I won’t be going there. I just felt the need to mention a bit of what’s going on in the background as I attempt to focus here.

Anyway. Me in the middle of it all, feeling a bit disoriented. I sit down at the computer and turn it on. Next thing I knew it’s four hours later. My laptop is a time machine. Talk about disorienting.

And then there’s that bit about my body not liking the cold/damp in the U.K., a physical unhappiness that gradually turned into a lingering chest cold I can only describe as impressive in its persistance and unattractiveness. A cold that’s turned me into one of those people you see walking around city streets making horrible, unwholesome noises.

Good thing I love this time of year.

On the upside, it’s sure looking and feeling like December here in Madrid, one of my favorite times of the year — the soft light from the low-hanging sun, hazy afternoons looking like it might only take a nudge from a benign weather forecaster to push them in the direction of snow. Christmas lights glowing in store windows, the narrow local streets transforming from their normal daytime selves to cheery pedestrian-friendly thoroughfares, thanks to the decorations the city’s strung up — benign, super-tinselly, shining warmly. I have no christmassy decorations in my little hovel apart from the Christmas cards that actually find their way here, preferring to use my own wacky mix of Christmas music to set the seasonal tone. Which is to say that stepping out into the neighborhood’s evening streets provides a nice contrast.

And so it was with Bath as darkness fell, Christmas lights coming on, people bustling about. N. and I walked through it, trying to find an Indian restaurant we’d passed earlier in the day. Trying and trying and trying, with no Indian joint in sight. We finally passed a police station, I got an impulse to go in there and ask them.

A woman in uniform came over to the window when we stumbled in, five other police personnel sat around an island of desks and tables behind her, all listening to N. and I as we asked our silly restaurant question. The woman seemed unsure and turned to her colleagues, a debate commenced about which restaurant we might have seen, evolving into a discussion about which Indian restaurants were the best (both as an absolute and for the money), then of those judged the best which we’d be more likely to find. At the end of which we left with a city street map marked up to help us locate the target joint.

A simple question, resulting in a pile of unexpected entertainment. (And the restaurant, by the way: excellent.)

[this entry in progress]

Madrid, te quiero.

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