far too much writing, far too many photos

These last few days have found me feeling a strange, potent combination of restlessness and deep contentment — a state I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced before. There are times when one or the other quality predominates, times when the two co-exist. The passages of co-existence produce a strange sense of balance, an indescribable sensation of weird equilibrium. Odd, but, well, fun. Interesting. And inexplicably satisfying.

That’s been my waking state. Sleepytime hours have been packed with dream activity, a torrential stream of adventures and surreal situations, featuring famous folks, people I’ve never met before, and music, songs that resonate in my teeny little mind long after I’ve woken up. The tune going on and on in my head on coming to consciousness to this morning: “You’re Having My Baby.” Where that came from, I don’t know. It’s clear that a heaving mass of rubbishy pop music/pop culture has accumulated in dark corners of my brain/psyche over the years. (Why should I be any different from anyone else?) But I have to say: man, what a bore. Not that I spend a whole lot of time pondering how many brain cells are tied up in storage of the memory version of empty calories. It’s a simple fact of having spent years in our wacky, media-and-advertisement-drenched culture. I’d just rather that when my inner soundtrack goes on random play, it sticks to stuff with a beat, that’s all.

Meanwhile, in the outside world (local version), life finally returned to the pre-holiday season activity level this week. Monday morning, I stumbled out into the cold morning air to find the barrio bustling in a way it hasn’t since mid-December, everything more or less back to normal.

The January sales continue in full force, a huge percentage of the people walking local streets at any given time carry bags of purchases. In doing the window-shopping thing these last couple of weeks, I’ve picked up three facts:

1) Shoes are no longer a bargain here. Three, four years back, footwear usually came with surprisingly low pricetags, even for hot, fashionable numbers. Now, a combination of the surge in prices that came with the shift from peseta to euro and the drastic weakening of the dollar has changed that in a big way.

2) Store signs advertising discounts of 40-50% don’t mean poop when they’re talking about, for instance, jeans that cost 119€ to begin with. (Jeans. 119€. Yowza!)

3) Anyone searching for that special pair of gold platform boots has missed the boat. Once featured prominently in a local store window, providing cheap thrills for anyone with fetishistic leanings of the New York Dolls/Rocky Horror variety, they disappeared a week or two ago, replaced by more mundane, more modest, less eye-catching footwear. Footwear that doesn’t call attention to itself in unseemly ways.

And the last two, three days have developed a soft, teasing mildness that hints at a warm season lurking somewhere ahead. The kind of day that features abundant sunshine and warming air in tandem with a cool breeze, a mix that gets me zipping my jacket, then unzipping it, then zipping it, then upzipping it. Over and over and over. I’m not complaining. It means cafés will be putting tables outside soon, winter wear will return to closets, bodies will become more visible, life will feel a bit freer.

Soon. (Let me have my illusions.)

Madrid, te quiero.

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