If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Friday, July 23, 2010

Going Home: The City

Last night b and I went to see Annie Hall at a local historic theater.  It was a fun date on a hot summer night but I was left with a nostalgia for a city that no longer exists.  It really is true that you can't go home again.  The city in my soul is not the city I was visiting last week.

The city I was visiting is a city of layers.  Almost every street I walk down holds memories of different eras in my life.  For example, I met Jo and my niece for dinner in a restaurant around the corner from the apartment we lived in when I was seven.  The fact that the same restaurant exists (and looks exactly the same) amazes me.  Across the street from the restaurant is a cathedral church.  I played on the grounds of this church as a child but was also married (the first time) in the chaplain house and graduated from my doctoral program in the main church.  Walking around the neighborhood I saw myself coming and going.

There are many special places for me in the city and when I go home I like to try and spend some time in as many of them as I can.  This time I was surprised to find a new area.  We stayed in a hotel in the financial district (where it is a little cheaper).  My expectation was there would be no one around and no available food after 5 pm and on the weekends.  We were pleasantly surprised to find this was not the case at all.  Instead there were restaurants and bars galore and people out and about at all hours of the day and night.  Right behind our charming little hotel was a closed off cobblestone street filled with small restaurants and bars.  Tables were set up each day for dining al fresco.

Entrance to our charming little hotel

View of al fresco dining from inside an air conditioned restaurant

I spent some time walking around the financial district.  I spent a lot of time walking period.  My pedometer was burning hot by the end of each day.  The crowds and the energy were exciting but the heat and the noise and the smells were overwhelming.

SouthLite doesn't have skyscrapers...

...or street performers

I did things I don't normally do on visits home, including going to the museum by myself.  I've never been much of a museum person.  In fact the only person I enjoy going to a museum with is Angel.  We both go at the same quick pace.  We like to take in the sights but not read all the labels or study each item.  But I ended up with an afternoon to myself and my original plan to walk around the park was proving to be too uncomfortable in the heat.  The air conditioned museum seemed the perfect solution and it was.

I visited old paintings that I loved and discovered that many of my favorites were really the favorites of my ex-husband (the person I went to the museum with the most in the old days).  It was fun figuring out what I really liked versus what I remember liking to please him (keep in mind I was very young in those days).  My favorite, however, was a new photography exhibit.  

I find I prefer sculptures...

....and portraits of strong women

These were my favorites from the photography exhibit.

b and I also visited a famous bookstore.  I realized, halfway through it, that I've never really enjoyed being in this store.  I go crazy for Powell's but this one just leaves me lukewarm.  I did find a set of short stories by Doris Lessing that I didn't own, so that was nice.

I enjoyed a pedicure and eyebrow wax (ok I didn't enjoy the waxing but it was needed) and ended up paying as much for the pleasure as I spend on a haircut and color.  The upside is that b tells me my feet are pretty on a daily basis now.

Pretty feet

b and I recreated old dates.  We even went to the movies (SouthLite doesn't have an independent film theater).  On one of our walks we spied an old car.  I knew if I asked b about the make he'd have a story about a time he drove one.  I was not disappointed.  

The car in b's story was hot pink and came with a model in the passenger seat.

Angel came up for the final four days.  He was up to visit his dad.  Since I hadn't seen my ex in ages I suggested we get together while we we had the opportunity.  We had a lovely brunch and a walk in a beautiful garden.

Angel and his dad

We also saw a small exhibit in the Museum of the City of Bagels and Pizza.

Angel was able to join b and me for dinner and drinks with friends and then again for our last dinner in the city.  We joked later that we drove 11 hours to see our son, who lives an hour and a half away.

b and Angel walking to dinner


Ianqui said...

Oh, that last picture is a couple blocks from my apartment. Maybe I passed you pushing Yo in the stroller that day.

Brigindo said...

Oh I wished I had known! b lived near there for 14 years. You guys may have been neighbors.

Annie said...

Thank you! I enjoyed your photo essay, the photographs, and all the links. I've only passed through once, on a bus, and I've never spent time in that city. I can see why you'd be restless, and wanting to move now and then, growing up in a place with so much to offer, it's hard to settle on one thing.

Drax said...

Brig, this post is... tremendous. Wow. Fucking devastating. Awesome. I'm practically crying...

...but I'm dying to hear b's story. The car. The model. Mm-mmm. Sure. "Go on!"

ruth pennebaker said...

Lovely post, Brig. You really can't go back again, but we all keep trying. OCD?