Thursday, May 31, 2007

holidays must end as you know

Now I know what everyone else is talking about when they say, after taking a blogging break, it becomes increasingly difficult to return to it. It's strange, because I just got back from this fantastic trip, and I really ought to sit down and write something about it, but the blog tends to be whatever is happening or on my mind right this minute. And Spain, Germany, all of it in the span of two days has become a distant memory. There's so much here and now to deal with, or so it seems.

And yet. Oddly, still, it doesn't feel like there is anything to write. My life in San Francisco was undoubtedly dull, but somehow being at home in EBF feels more dull. Or maybe the dullness is on my mind, because I always associate EBF with doledrums, with feeling stuck and trapped, with restlessness and longing.

And rest assured, there is plenty of restlessness. I feel like if I sat at home and watched television all afternoon, I might burst into tears and completely forget that I have a lot of good things ahead of me, reverting back to the blah of adolescence. Then again, I may have also failed to turn the television on because I cannot figure out how to turn it on, what with the ten different remote controls my father has scattered about the house. But mind you, I'm not admitting to that.

Before I left San Francisco, surveying my belongings all packed up in stacked boxes, the broseph remarked, "Dude, you have too many hobbies." I never thought I did, but, looking at the boxes, the evidence stacked up against me quite literally. Then again, I am starting to see what that's all about. I think the only way I can relax is to do something. This is probably why I found walking for four hours a day all over Spain more fun than I would have found relaxing on some beach or tropical resort for two weeks.

And even though Spain was relaxing and good for me, I did come back restless, ready to do something once again. If only I could use this motivation for some good purpose, I might have actually made something of myself. Instead, I made these:
messy into mango
the things we did and didn't do
And played guitar for two hours a day for the past two days. Thank goodness for empty houses in the boondocks.

Monday, May 28, 2007

I'll be home when I'm sleeping

So I’m back. Sort of. I guess this is one of those circles of hell that clever dude Dante was always mentioning- in this case, that circle is good old Newark International Airport. Look, though, while I would love to complain about the airport, it has afforded me this little cubicle with an outlet to keep my laptop juiced and wi-fi for a paltry amount of money, even for someone who is not gainfully employed. And yeah, I don’t plan to tire of calling myself ‘unemployed’ or of mentioning that I am ‘not gainfully employed’ any time soon.

In order to get to EBF, I have to wait here for six hours. The hilarious thing is that I could jump in a car and get there in less time than this. But the waiting is not really the problem- the jet lag, however, is. I’m sort of jittery right now, as if my body is convinced I am pulling an all-nighter of some kind. And to be perfectly honest, I’ve so lost track of time and schedules that it’s entirely possible that my body is actually correct.

So, really, one should not write in this condition, this condition of being a bit unsteady and just wanting to be home. But that word is purposefully italicized, because that word is now something I use so liberally. In Barcelona, by the second night, I was referring to an apartment we rented as home. In Granada, AL smirked at me when two college students asked us where we were from and I answered, “I’m from San Francisco, and he’s from Maine.”

AL asked, “How long do you plan to keep claiming that?” I shrugged. It wasn’t even intentional, and I guess that was exactly his point. So I want to be home right now, but really all that means is that I want to be somewhere for more than a few days. Like maybe a week.

The song this week- it’s sort of self-explanatory. The ab-fab aspect of going to Spain is that I went at such a perfect time in my life that I was thrilled to be there, but now I am admittedly a little excited to be back. Decisions loom in the horizon, logistics to be sorted through, friends and family to visit, and at the end of that, one big adventure waiting to unfurl. So indeed, I Can’t Hardly Wait. Furthermore, like Westerberg bemoans, I just can’t seem to really get to what I would really like to say about Spain yet. I’ll write you a letter tomorrow, or so I hope.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

you might be spoiling me with too much love

Yesterday, we were passing the Museu Picasso, and for no discernible reason, a pair of very American dudes delivered an amazingly bluesy version of Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright. I grinned from ear to ear, and couldn’t help but laugh a little, causing SP to look at me like the absinthe from the night before had finally gone to my head (but that’s a story for another time). It was just so perfect. Walking down this beautifully narrow street in Barcelona on the way to a saffron shop, the trip winding to a close, hearing a little echo of Dylan felt like a nudge back home. It’s time, after all. For should I stay here one more day, I am convinced I will never leave.

I’ve been living without clocks and watches, without time. The days are so long this time of year, each day here seems to stretch on forever, in the best possible way. Lunch is served between 1 and 4:30. We got into a bit of a rush last night, just to get to a few shops before they closed (everything closes on Sundays here), and I felt odd for several hours afterwards. It was the first time in a long time that I hadn’t shrugged and thought “there’s always tomorrow.”

The tomorrow’s are drawing to a close, and I guess that’s something to remember, but also to forget. The tomorrow’s are always drawing to an end. We’re constantly running out of them. And the answer seems neither to be to hold on too tight to the moment nor to treat them so loosely that they slip away without notice.

It took me so long to get here, and yet a part of me imagines I will be back. And I suppose you have to fool yourself with such thoughts, or everything becomes too laden with urgency, too heavy with the finality of it all. The truth, though, is that I might never return. If there is one thing that has become acutely certain in the past month, it is that so much will always remain uncertain. And thank everything for that.

It’s not just that fate is so fickle and meandering and unpredictable. It’s that I am too. I met W when I was 17. I met AL when I was 24. I met SP when I was 29. And to see them all and only them, good friends of mine, over the past month, I can see a reflection in their eyes. Even SP, who arguably should know me better having met me most recently, gets things woefully wrong. It’s not her fault; the past creates crevasses fine yet deep and you just don’t notice. And I can revert to being all of those people and none of them around these three friends. I can be the idealistic, moony-eyed girl with W, the easily irritable don’t-mess-with-me-b*tch pain in the neck with AL, and the even-keeled but rather staid wanderer with SP. But put me on the Metro to Lesseps, walking down Avenida d’Asturias to have one last look at Casa Vicens, and stuck inside my own head is someone entirely separate from all of that, or someone that is all of those things or much less than them.

I’m talking in circles, but I suppose I am just in wonder, surprised at the world, but more surprised with myself. By the time I started writing here in this space, I was already becoming this person, so it is hard to really capture who I was before. And I still, still can’t quite tease out how much of it was deciding to change, and how much of it was luck or circumstance. Maybe it doesn’t matter, this accounting of what I was responsible for and what I should be grateful for. Maybe what’s important is even noticing, or having the time to notice. It’s like pressing pause to take a moment to catch up mentally with what you’ve just seen or heard.

And now, it’s time to press play.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

we'll aim for the stars when the night comes

So I was going to tell you that I may have concluded that I shockingly find that I like Madrid better than Barcelona. I was going to tell you a lot of things. It's going to take me a strong month at the least to work through all that I might like to tell you. But then came today, and it is as though I have to remember to breathe.

First of all, it's ridiculous to say that Madrid is better than Barcelona. Secondly, even though it's equally ridiculous to say that Barcelona is better than Madrid, Barcelona has just been stamped in my heart forever. It did so just by being an innocent bystander, really, because I got some big news today. Some news I have not been thinking about much for the last 15+ days, but that is big, big, big nonetheless.

The sculptor responsible for the Passion facade on La Sagrada Familia was a controversial figure, because he was an unabashed atheist when he was commissioned to begin his work. Upon completing the Passion facade, and becoming intimately involved in La Sagrada Familia, he acknowledged he had become a sincere agnostic.

And you know what? I never much gave credence to luck or good fortune or blessings. I always thought there was hard work, and there were the advantages you were born with, the haves and have-nots, and the rest was just what you told yourself to get you through life. But now I have to admit, I must acknowledge that I have been in a state of awe. I remain in a state of awe. That life could unfold this way for me, that I could see such beautiful things in this world, that I could have such beautiful choices to make. It is just too much, too too much to simply shrug it off and say, "I did all the work." No one deserves such beauty. It is a gift.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

he pours the wine into his coffee cup

AL arrived in Sevilla a few days ago (I really don't know how to keep track of time anymore- AL & I spent fifteen minutes yesterday arguing over the correct date), and my travels suddenly took a much more cerveza- and rioja-soaked feel to them. I would say that AL is some kind of Hemingway wannabe, except that AL has only read Old Man & The Sea, and definitely does not get into any sort of deep conversations when he's tying one on.

Not that I'm minding much. I am really happy AL is here in Granada with me, but I'm equally happy that he did not arrive a day sooner, glad that he finally manned up today and went for a walk on his own. Granada is lovely, but it is hot, seriously, blindingly hot. I had established an entire rhythm in my travels to combat this kind of heat. I would start early, explore around a bit, duck into a place for lunch just as the sun was starting to get unbearable, then tuck myself into my hotel for a few hours to relax until the afternoon. Then in the late afternoon, I would explore again.

That schedule is not amenable when AL is your travel partner. For one thing, he requires coffee in the morning. And not just a coffee on the go. It's the one Spanish thing he's fully embraced, the habit of sitting and having a cafe con leche, a light breakfast, and soaking it all in. And for someone a foot taller than me, someone who could do a triathlon on a whim tomorrow, he walks awfully slowly, and gets tired of walking really quickly.

But that's life with a man-child, and I knew what I was in for, and because our time in Granada is so plentiful, I really do not mind. We marvelled at the Alhambra yesterday, we went into the Albayzin neighborhood today, drank Moroccan tea and ate tagine. We bought azafra for my mom and the aunties from an especias shop near the Cathedral. The only thing I really must do now is visit the Parque Garcia Lorca. This would be the sort of thing that AL would not appreciate in the least, so I am hoping he will come back to the hotel exhausted and in want of a siesta.

Tomorrow, we leave for Barcelona, where SP will be waiting. Our housing arrangements are a little more dicey there, but y'all, it's Barcelona. How will that not rock?

I do hope that once AL leaves on Wednesday, the trip returns to being a little more pensive and inward. Having AL here truly is great (would I have had cost to drink both jerez and manzanilla in one sitting otherwise? I think not), but I feel like I spend so much time planning things out for us or just dealing with him that I don't spend a lot of time thinking about these amazing things that we have seen. Today at breakfast, I tried to pull out my journal to write while AL ate. About two words down and AL was asking me a translation question. Tomorrow, I'm totally playing pick-and-roll and letting SP handle him for a while. I would feel badly for making him sound like such a puppy-dog/toddler, except that anyone that knows AL will agree that he is exactly that.

p.s. The song of the week is dedicated to the last few days we have spent in Granada, which has this really interesting Arabic influence. Plus, I just had tea called "El Sueno del Alhambra" (how can you not order a tea when it is named that?) at a place called El Kasbah.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

it´s a hard knock life for us

Because the internet station where I´m typing devoured my post halfway through my inane ramblings, let me instead tell you this.

Here are my accomplishments for the day in Sevilla:

  • Finding the lavanderia, where they will wash, dry and fold my clothes for €6. Yay for packing light!
  • Finding the pastry shop recommended to me by my cousin´s friend (which was a bit of a letdown because it was like someone telling you "Oh my god, I know a great coffee shop you should visit when you´re in California, it´s called Peet´s. Don´t tell anyone, though, it´s totally a secret.")
  • Figuring out how to order Andalucian gazpacho (also known as salmorejo) and white wine for lunch.
  • Inventing a brilliant new game called "follow the path with the most shade." You laugh, but I could make a killing in Sevilla, as it becomes a citywide pasttime this time of year for those of us not interested in the langosta look.

Phew! I think this calls for a siesta!

Monday, May 14, 2007

and I'll search the world over for my angel in black

So I have no clue why the commenting appeared to be down for my last post, but since I am writing now from a pleasantly lit room in Spain, I have not really the motivation to delve into the inner workings of Haloscan and bumble my way through some blog-reengineering. Besides which, maybe no one is even reading anymore.

I want to write all of these things about Madrid, and even still Germany, and how much all of it has meant to me. All those words are there somewhere. But when I sit down to write a blogpost, the only thing that seems to want to come out is: dude, the teeniacs in Europe are just as insane as those everywhere else. Also, the mullet is big here. Not just the mullet, but this weird, I'm trying to grow a mohawk but my mom will kill me so instead I gel my hair all up the middle and grow a tail in the back hair-do that is inexplicable. But dude, the Spanish teeniac boys wearing that cut are very impressed with themselves, and it makes me giggle every time I see it.

Also, for those of you fashionistas (ha! Like a fashionista would be reading the blog of one of the least fashion-savvy people on the planet.) out there, apparently, glittery flats are a big deal. So, I might be walking down the street, and all of a sudden some very fashionable madrilena will approach, dressed in a very simple solid-colored shirt and very skinny jeans and bam! red-glittery flats. Red, blue, green, silver, gold, it's huge. Everyone seems on the verge of clicking their heels together to wish themselves home.

I noticed, also, that buying shoes is like a part-time job for most Spanish women in Madrid. But what I found fascinating is that I did not see an overabundance of painful shoes out there- you know, not a ton of four-inch heels or stilettos or anything like that. Even though the shoes all appeared super-fashionable, a lot of them were also really comfortable. For that alone, I could love Madrid forever. But of course, there is a lot lot more. For another time.

It should be noted that I am being purely facetious about this week's song. I used to love calling people Eurotrash when I was in college as a put-down, but between seeing the other side of yuppydom and spending time among more Europeans, I'm starting to feel like Eurotrash is actually a compliment. Though people could ease up on the amount of cologne. I'm just saying.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

and look at you and me, still here together

We both have an umbrella in hand, a small black one for me, a big grey one for W and his son, F. Of course, protecting a child from rain with an umbrella is a rather difficult task. F’s wide and clear blue eyes take in everything. And like his father, ever the scientist, F wants to observe, touch, consider each thing he encounters in his path. He notices things someone under 3 normally might not. He meanders away to pick flowers or inspect a latch on a gate. He is fascinated by fountains and waters, likes to feel the rush and the gurgle of the water against his fingers. He jumps in puddles, pausing afterwards for a moment to observe how and where the water has splashed.

He says it is best to give K some time with the baby. We talk about little meaningless things and then lace it with important, big things- what his next move will be, the factors he considers. The conversation is stilted, for we are interrupted by our watchful, adult eyes- F has skipped off to a big sculpture, F wants a croissant, F wants to feed ducks. It does not feel stilted. There is nothing unnatural about the stops and starts of this conversation- this is what it means to be a father, and there is an unspoken, subconscious understanding of this between us. There is no need to ask the question- “what does it feel like to be a father?” There is no need to ask how he handles his evolution. We are scientists. We do not ask questions if we can surmise the answers by simple awareness.

Besides which, W was a father before I had met him. This day, with the rain drizzling on and off, falling and then stopping, evokes certain afternoons we spent walking around Boston. And back then, W wanted to examine a sculpture, wanted a croissant, crouched down to feed the ducks. At restaurants, he made eyes at babies and waved. Everything in his life has led him to fatherhood, whether he knew it or not.

W talks to me, though, of his next move, and listening to him makes me think: this must be the sound a tiger makes before he pounces. He is turning things over and over in his head. He has a million ideas and a million paths. He doesn’t talk of the things that are really on his mind. He sounds like a dreamer, the scary sort of dreamer who will spend the family fortune on a half-cooked scheme or blow the savings at the track. But those are just words. Inside the words, deep in the tone of his voice, is heaviness, a hesitation based on the weight of his own expectations. He told me once, and he repeats it later that day, that he had to lie down from chest pains when he watched a movie in which a father could not make enough money to support his family. W is deeply aware of his responsibilities, and his hesitation, his many schemes, the chess move he analyzes so stems from a pride, the best kind of pride, the pride that says “you will not want, not while I have two hands and a beating heart.”

It’s overblown, of course. I want to tell him this, but there is no telling him this. He would deny he is concerned at all. The words, after all, are light. I think of this: W has never failed the way that I have; he has never fallen flat on his face, has never had to stand up again, has never had to put himself back together. Failure feels all the more catastrophic when you haven’t experienced it in a real sense. Coupled with the weight he places on himself, the very logical weight of having two children and a wife he wants to protect and nurture, F is light perched atop W’s shoulders, contributes little to compressing his spine, the running joke every time he lifts him up.

We try to circumvent a park, but F is too fast, too astute. He sees it, a park with a big fountain in the middle. He wants to play, but the rain is falling harder. I can see that F is getting finicky. It is getting increasingly difficult to ply him from the mud and the tall, wet grass. I am starting to feel badly for the boy. We have been walking for a long time, and have been constantly dissuading him from playing with this and that, citing the rain and the mud and that we must continue on.

W insists F will be okay as he coaxes him into taking the train. Once inside the train station, F becomes a bit cheerful again, excited that he is free to run in circles and press buttons. When we arrive at our stop, the rain has quelled a bit and he is free to run at the university a bit more. W has been lecturing me intermittently about the history of the university, how it was considered quite liberal, how it was one of the first to be closed during the rise of the Nazis, how the US made it their central base once they’d occupied the city during the war. He points out the architecture, built just as Hitler was gaining popularity and notes the cold, boxy appearance. I am only half-listening but I pretend to be absorbed, amused and touched that he has kept all of this in his head to serve as my guide. He always loves to be the teacher.

When we enter the university, the entranceway is all marble, expensive and stunning in the way it is carefully cut. W points it out to me, and I nod, thinking this is why we are here, the beauty of this hallway and perhaps a stop at the café that lies just past this entrance. I have been humoring W, truth be told. We could have been walking in circles in Frankfurt, and I would not have cared. We walk up the marble steps and pause, letting swarms of students pass by. We used to be those students, gathering in a café to furiously study and sort difficult questions out before an exam, outdoing each other in panic.

But when the students pass by, we do not enter the café. Instead, we walk past it, and duck into a small room to an elevator. The tour has apparently not completed. And then I see it. The elevator arrives and we jump on it, and I barely make it. I haven’t even had a chance to process what I’ve just witnessed, but W watches me with giddy anticipation. There are no doors to this elevator, and it never stops. F is confused, and even a little scared that there is nothing to hold on to, nothing keeping us from the edge. It takes us down to the basement, creaks to the side, and then rises up to the roof, and each time we hit a floor, we lose our breath again at the unsteadiness of this exposure. It is a compressed, oval ferris wheel. I turn to W and we both break out into giggles, and for a moment, we are both 19 years old again. F mimics us out of amusement. “This is what I wanted to show you,” W confesses. I grin so widely that my cheeks hurt for a moment.

With that, we leave and F loses steam fast. He falls asleep on W’s shoulders as we walk through an affluent part of town. W holds him in his arms as we step into his favorite café to get sandwiches and macaroons to take home for lunch. Later, many things will happen, many beautiful things, things so meaningful that I will burst into overwhelmed tears at the Frankfurt airport. But on this day, my first full day in Frankfurt, I am struck by how the essence of W is contained in this walk, by how this is just like him, by how I can say this is just like him after all of these years. It’s this day that I’ll remember, that will make me acutely aware of how impossible it would be for anyone else to ever strike up this kind of friendship with me again.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

shut me down and dream of where I haven't been

I really hope that Spain will set my currently frozen brain on fire. Not that my brain has ever been particularly en fuego, but at the moment, I'm feeling like I've got a Jordan Catalona-like vacant lot for a head. I will attempt to blog on my trip, but a lot depends on the state of my brain. My writing has slipped further into the uninspired category than usual, and I feel like I need to maybe shut up until I have something of worth to say.

So, instead, here's the 411 on my travel plans as of now:

    May 5th: leave the country!
    May 6th-9th: hang out in Frankfurt with W's family. Three days around two small anklebiters children should complete the destruction of my ability to form complete sentences or words longer than two syllables.
    May 9th-13th: Madrid, b*tches.
    May 13th-14th: hang out in Toledo, spend the night.
    May 14th: get to Cordoba, spend the night.
    May 15th: arrive in Sevilla, try not to get drunk off sangria the first evening.
    May 16th: Wait with baited breath for AL to show up! Actually, I might go to Jerez de la Frontera for the day to taste the sherries before AL arrives.
    May 17th: after hanging out in Sevilla for the day, get to Granada.
    May 18th-20th: Granada, Alhambra, yada yada yada.
    May 20th: fly out from Granada to Barcelona. SP meets up with us in Barcelona.
    May 21st-23rd: we reenact Three's Company and argue over which of us is Chrissy. AL flies out the 23rd.
    May 28th: back to life, back to reality.

And we don't have any hotel reservations in Barcelona as of now. Right now, it looks like we might try to grab an apartment, since SP & I will be there the whole week. I know it seems like I didn't budget my time properly, but I really do want to spend the longest leg of my trip in Barcelona. I have no doubt that I will adore all the other places we will go, but I need to stay somewhere urban for a while. The hustle and bustle have become my crack, which might explain why I have been off kilter since staying in EBF. Of course, everyone says Barcelona is filled with pickpockets and tomfoolery, so I suppose there are disadvantages to staying in the city. But whatevs.

I'm going to try to put a song of the week up before I leave tomorrow, but that might be it for the month of May, since I don't know what my internet situation is going to be in Spain. In the meantime, vaya con dios!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

this is home

Well, y'all, I don't know. It's a good thing this is all temporary, but this whole living with the folks thing has resulted in some thought-provoking statements. First of all, I never mentioned it here, perhaps because I was convinced I would be flamed since everyone else in the universe loves it so much, but I was not impressed by The Namesake- neither the novel nor the film. A Auntie, legendary A Auntie, dropped by yesterday, and I cornered her about her thoughts. She wanted to know what my problem was with the material.

What was my problem with it? I had to come up with something, but you can't spew nonsense at A Auntie- she suffers no fools, and she ain't having that sh*t. When I really thought about it, I could boil it down to this aggravation: it continues to annoy me that Lahiri is so adept at creating rich characters in Gogol's parents, but fails so utterly to give Gogol any dimension at all. My cousin K has argued that's the entire point of the novel, but I find that really too pessimistic: I know a lot of us 2nd-genners are a bunch of whiny, navel-gazers (cough*I-keep-a-blog*cough), but I think that some of us do actually have pulses and coherent thoughts. And then, as is her usual way, A Auntie shook her finger at me and put the needle on the record when the drumbeat goes like this.

She just stated, and this is not really that monumental a statement, but she stated that most parents, most Indians, who moved to the US around the same time as Gogol's parents, shared a common experience of adjusting to a foreign country, newlywed, cut off from family and what they had known. She just stated, without judgment of any kind, that, on the other hand, every 2nd-generation kid had a unique experience. We each navigated the tightrope of being 2nd-generation in our own way.

I'm not completely sold though. I understand what she's saying, and I see how she has a point. It's probably why those parents of her generation are all bound together in such a close-knit circle, while those children of our generation tend to be loosely connected at best. On the other hand, it seems like there is a hunger for an ability to relate. I can't tell if it turns into inflated expectations- perhaps I hold people like Lahiri to impossible standards because I have been waiting for someone to put their finger on the 2nd-generation experience in a way that I could swallow- or if it's an artificial expectation. If it's the latter, A Auntie is right, I suppose, that this whole time we've been trying to find common ground when there's more that separates us than brings us together.

Then again, I don't know why I'm using the word us as if I'm some spokesperson for 2nd-genners. Like many others, I fear large groups of brown people, and only recently became friends with any (and that, too, mostly due to the blog). So maybe I shouldn't even be contemplating it in this way.

One accompanying bit of hilarity: A Auntie said some of the new fangled filmmakers need to hire an auntie or two as consultants. She cited Mitr. Apparently, in this movie, the main couple is a South Indian woman and a North Indian man. A Auntie rolled her eyes as she related this to me and remarked, "Now, tell me, in what kind of universe can these two people have had an arranged marriage? How?" I don't know why exactly (maybe the imagined visual of her on set yelling "Cut!" and then muttering the aforementioned statement to the director), but that cracked me up.

Anyway, that's enough rambling that reveals how much I'm regressing into adolescence. There was a secondly to the thought-provoking statements reference, but I don't even think it was worth delving into the first one. Which is the problem with being at home in general- it's far too easy to start thinking about questions which have no answers, and moreover, questions which don't really need any answers. Tomorrow, I will share my itinerary in Spain, and y'all can laugh at how I'm leaving in a few days and still don't have jack figured out. By the way, I can't remember where I picked it up, but I remember at some point I started using the term 'jack taco' in place of 'jack sh*t.' So that I would have just typed: I still don't have jack taco figured out about this trip. And I was going to remark that it's kind of a stupid substitution, because what could jack taco possibly mean? But then I realized I have no idea what the term jack sh*t really means- so I suppose I'm equally incoherent either way.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

put out the fire, boys, don't stop, don't stop

So, just as predicted, the feelings of imminent madness did descend upon me today. I am not sure how much each factor contributes to this, because look at all the variables here:
  • I just packed up shop and left the city I adored. (I'm not even bothering to include the whole FTLOG-I-just-quit-my-job bit as a separate bullet because that's, like, so last year at this point)

  • For all intents and purposes, I have gone from living alone to currently living with my parents.

  • Living with my parents also means living in EBF, suburbia central.

  • I'm going to Europe at the end of the week, and everyone who has agreed to join me has taken this attitude of "dude, just tell me where to be and I'll split the bill with you." And while that's well and good, that means all the planning falls to me.

  • Family, friends, and other people keep asking me about various weekends in June, as if I could possibly think that far in advance at the moment.

  • My grandparents are visiting this week, which means there are now four people in the house who think what's for lunch and what's for dinner are perfectly acceptable conversation topics to occupy the entire day.

On the other hand. On the other hand. Yes, there is another hand, I have to tell myself. On the other hand, the weather went from dreary and dull to bright and temperate today. My grandfather and I went on a walk around the neighborhood. He is no longer allowed to walk alone, and until today, no one has accompanied him. I can tell that a part of him absolutely loathed the fact that I was taking a turn around the block with him. And I kind of like him all the more for that, because I totally understand that grumpiness. I can tell his walks were his quiet time, his time that could not be disturbed. Because those walks were part of a routine, it was impossible for anyone to interfere with his daily rituals. Even though it's curmudgeonly and rigid, I can tell I would behave exactly the same way if I was forced to live amongst this many people on a regular basis.

Anyways, I temporarily forgot that this was all temporary. When I remember all of these circumstances are temporary, I can shrug off any annoyances, because whatevs, yo, it's not for very long. But it's easy to let the feeling of a permanent noose start to strangle you, especially when you're back in your old hometown. So, to act out, to rebel, to invent a way to cope with all those old, unresolved issues, I did something so thoroughly unoriginal, I was kind of amazed by the Pavlovian aspect of it all.

Straight to the record store.

Not just that. Even upon jumping in the car, the radio stations in EBF induce the return to adolescence. I don't know if it's something about the Northeast, or whichever radio station I happen to turn on when I'm driving here, but inevitably, some really throwback tune shows up. The first song playing on the radio when I pulled out of the driveway was Elderly Woman by Pearl Jam, and it was like immediately rewinding the clock over a decade. And juxtaposed on these blurs of familiarity, roads that I remember driving on, even though I hardly remember who I was then and the roads themselves look different, strange, strange brews of feelings come over me.

Instead of dealing with any of those feelings, though, instead of analyzing them, I just let them push me wherever they pleased. I am not in a position to spend time dissecting the past right now (which is probably why I figured it was safe to go home). And the autopilot took me to the record store. The old, beat-up record store that used to be independent, where my classmate L and I would go when we were feeling a bit decadent about the manner in which we might spend our paycheck. I saw old friends like L in the little punks that were loitering outside the store, which has long since been bought out by Newbury Comics, though it still retains that High Fidelity air of no-you-may-not-buy-I-just-called-to-say-I-love-you. Back then, it didn't matter that I was always dressed like a straight-laced nerd and L was wearing oversized concert t-shirts and dying her hair three different colors: the bigger misfit was still a toss-up. Today, I probably seemed ridiculous to the little punks, but then again, today, I didn't care.

I grabbed a few CDs I'd been meaning to pick up (maisnon, the Rod Y Gab CD is worth shelling out the cash for, since the liner notes are equally hilarious as their live ramblings), I felt dissatisfied. The CDs felt a little wimpy. The 15-year old version of myself would not abide by these CDs, not without something else with significant bite. And then it was quite simple.

So I came home with a Cold War Kids CD, and you know, f*** it, I know it's not age-appropriate or anything. I know everyone else in the world has probably already heard of them and is already over them. I know it's probably derivative of some other sound. I know I'm supposed to be past this kind of angst and bite and awesomeness, but oh the f*** well. I brought it home like a trophy, and stole up to my room to listen to the whole thing. Then I turned down dinner with the family to listen to it again.

If this keeps up, I might stay forever young, I suppose.