Here comes a summer of movement: new house, new neighbourhood, new position at work, new nephew. Consistency is reassuring and good. I like familiar breakfasts, tracing the same steps to the office each morning, my usual tea cup. The truth is, I’m not much good at embracing changes one after the other. I’m happiest just to sit here a while, steeping in the silence. I am bracing myself for this soon-to-come period of rapid-fire newness, trying my best not to clench up.
I’m spending 10 days in New York City at the start of July, and I think it’s my subconscious way of preparing mentally for movement. I planned this trip without an inkling of everything that would follow it, but it’s become strangely and comfortingly symbolic. Ten days of solitude and recharging and uninterrupted thought to prepare for what’s next. I’m so happy to think of being swallowed up by a great big gorgeous chaotic city where I know no one and no one knows me and I can feel a bit lost and am beholden to none.
At times of late, I’ve felt guilty about my tiny solo expedition. That I don’t want to share it with anyone. That I want to keep it to myself, held close, in secret. But we prepare ourselves in different ways. There is no need to be apologetic or weighty with guilt. Traveling alone, I become hyper-aware of life and this day: it’s sharper, tastier, so full of light. I love everything more because of its absence.
It’s these simple song lyrics, never mind ones from a carol that I’m humming mid-June: Everything’s different, but nothing has changed / We are going in circles, it’s Christmas again. Here: I will sit in a new backyard in a new part of town, I will walk a new path to the office and sit at a new desk, I will cradle my sister’s new son in arm.
Everything different is familiar eventually. We make preparations. We sometimes exhaust our stores. But we find our own best ways to keep mostly intact, through the movement.
[photo, with thanks, via]
Barcelona: resplendent with dust and wrought-iron verandas and hills meeting sea.
I’ve returned from a deeply restorative vacation, taken by the way the Spanish live. Slowly and meandering and with frequent stops for (excellent!) espresso and siesta. The cliché of “European time” is very much alive in this old city, where they rise late and dine late and sleep even later.
A thought on the city’s storied Gaudi presence: it’s haunting and more ephemeral than the majority of Barcelona photographs lead one to believe. He’s there, sure – in the befuddlingly spectacular Sagrada Familia and intricately tiled Parc Güell - but Gaudi’s work is less omnipresent than I imagined, and I like that. There’s so much more to the city, tucked in nooks and alleyways that offer perfect Catalan meals and sticky figs and wailing guitar.
And of course, time spent with a dear friend (who is otherwise much too far away) made it a special getaway. “Sad stuff” and impromptu swing-set photoshoots. Sea-swept glasses and a guy named Luis. Gelato, cheese (too much cheese), ad hoc tea parties, crazy business schemes. Even with Kenyans between us, thanks.
Barcelona: I still despise sangria and prefer my dinner before the clock strikes twelve and am curious about your lack of proper bakeries. But - your markets and pillars and abundant anchovies and prehistoric succulent-jungles and coconut-pistachio ice-cream - and mostly your gentle reminder to slow down – more than make up for these tiny indiscretions.