7000 miles and Counting

I have to admit when I’m beaten. And after breaking a phone and losing all my contacts, and dropping my laptop to the point where it looks like it’s been wrestling with a bear, I’ve been

offline for more than a week or so. In the meantime, we made our way across the world, ate some good food, saw some lovely stuff.

I do love Paris, and we stayed in the 1st where the beating heart of Paris and the light on the buildings makes for a little bit of magic that never disappoints. The food was wonderful but it’s just walking around and soaking in the culture and architecture that do it for me every time.

Paris has always been Jeff’s city. The first time I took him there it was Valentines Day. He thought I was traveling for work and I had him take me to the airport – something I never did before – but I had phoned his boss and made the arrangements. We had such a lovely time and he memorized the entire Metro in the week we were there. Its just his way.

I must say, I don’t love CDG. Any airport that charges you to go to the bathroom isn’t humane. Especially when you just want to run from your flight to make it there in time. But oh well. When we flew from VLC to CDG we did it with a plane full of screaming kids on their first flight. They clapped at take off and landing. Jeff felt this was very bad luck. It was like being at EuroDisney, where they were all heading, with them. The sugar was flowing and reflecting in the seat kicking and volume of screaming voices.

Then it was time to head to Seattle, then Portland to see my parents. Only 26 hours later and we were here, just in time to wish my Dad Happy 89th Birthday before falling into bed. I hope he understood that we’d done everything we could to make it before midnight, but the airlines weren’t cooperating and there had been delays. We were bleary eyed but we got it done.

Laying in my childhood room with Jeff is always a surreal experience, But now they’ve changed out the bed for a king-sized marvel I’ve never been so happy to see in my life. We have the dredded queen size in Valencia and this one made my bed-envy peak. Perhaps when we buy a house we’ll get a new bed too.

Jeff is going to Scottsdale alone for a week, but before his leaving, we needed to complete our list of US purchases. Spain, and Europe are great, but getting the latest computers or technology in general, is seemingly impossible. And finding clothes for Jeff is like pulling teeth. So he had been buying ALOT of things on Amazon US and they were piled in the guest room, like Christmas. But there were also things we both needed to try on and shop for in person, so we headed out after 3 hours sleep and started our search. ‘No rest for the wicked.’ as my Mom would say.

It’s feeling like Fall here. Rainy and 51. The leaves are turning the colors of autumn. Jeans, Tall sized shirts, all the essentials were waiting to be plucked from shelves. Bike parts that were ordered in advance were to be picked up, and a trip to REI for some hiking/biking stuff complete with a condescending guy who told me exactly the boots I would need to walk the Camino Portuguese next year and that the boots I was selecting were entirely wrong. He spoke to me like I was a small child or an idiot, or just a woman. I asked him if he had ever walked a Camino and his answer made me laugh.

‘No. But I’ve researched it and read up on it. I am an expert on the Camino and I’ve advised 100’s of people on footwear to walk it.’ He told me with a very snarky look on his face.

‘Ah, I see. Well, I used these exact boots on the Camino Frances,all 800 km, and didn’t get a blister. Not one. So I think I’ll stick with what works for me.’ I was trying to be nice.

‘You must have walked in November or December. Otherwise, that’s just ridiculous.’ he told me. ‘Those boots aren’t for walking in the heat.’

‘Well, the Camino throws about every kind of weather at you, even sleet and some snow can easily come my way in Galicia. So I’m going to buy these boots, but alas, not from you.’

Another customer smiled as I put my shoes back on and we walked out. Seriously, I thought, this guy doesn’t want to take my $300. Not the REI I know, and worked for. It was the same in the cycling department. Jeff and I left wondering why US retailers are confused as to why people just buy things online. Seriously.

OK, we struck out on some of it for me. Jeff will have to tackle some things on his own in Scottsdale. But we did pretty well, including new electronics to replace what I had broken (ouch), and all the pants he can fit in his suitcase. And then I spotted the Barnes and Noble.

We went inside and I swear I heard angels singing. The hours and hours I spent in B & N in the last 20 years. And the money. My kids always knew when I took them there that we were coming home with a Grande Soy Chai, extra hot no foam latte, and a car full of books for all of us. Yesterday, it was raining outside and it felt right.

Any other Fall day in my life I would have spent hours there, making my selections and piling them on the counter. Then going home and sitting by a fire and reading, watching the rain come down outside. Cozy. It made me tear up remembering it. Funny, when we lived in Arizona I didn’t really think about that but I certainly was at that moment.

You see, there are no English book stores in Valencia. And I miss that. The smell of the paper and standing reading book jackets, being transported to other places, times, dimensions. Having adventures without ever leaving the two foot square of carpet you’re standing on. The quirky people that work at book stores and their obscure recommendations and enthusiasm at the register when they see something they love or have meant to read themselves. It’s a community within a community.

Someday they’ll all be gone, I’m sure. But until then, I’ll cherish the moments I get to spend there. On this trip, I’ll head to Powell’s books downtown for a treat. It’s the west coast bookend to The Strand Bookstore in NYC. Powell’s doesn’t have the hiring test that the employees at The Strand must take before they can say they work there, but it’s every bit as enjoyable wandering the stacks and discovering something new.

Today won’t be quite so busy, Jeff is heading to AZ. I’ll be hanging out with my parents drinking pots and pots of drip coffee with our cats, who have finally warmed up to us after an artic greeting. The perfect Fall day in the NW. I didn’t know how much I needed it until right this moment.

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