“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
In New York, you walk across the same avenues as always. How many times have you walked this same street, 53rd, across 6th and 7th avenues? How many times have you passed by countless multitudes, tourists, workers, between the rising buildings and souvenir shops? In the dead of winter clutching your coat against you, hurrying towards the nearest subway, or in the glory of spring, with chin up and chest high, taking in every ray of light that shined on the city?
The city you so loved, still love, but from a distance. You’re not able anymore to drag your feet slowly down Broadway watching the old men play chess on Sundays on the sidewalk, or linger at the booksellers’ tables, or duck into Housing Works Cafe during an afternoon of rain. I’ve missed the city in the rain, all that muck, all those crazy umbrellas, and the people coming in from it. That’s almost when I loved it most, when everyone, wanderers and purposeful walkers, would get soaked, and we went into cafes for coffee, sat and watched the window, loved strangers from afar and imagined their next destination.
Photo by I..C..U..
It’s rainy season here in Madrid. We Write Poems’ Prompt #79 encouraged us to write about broken things, or when things aren’t quite going your way. In my English classes we’ve been playing many incessant games of “describe that thing,” which is what inspired the title.
It’s a Thing You Don’t Use When It Pours
A forgotten umbrella.
Rain, patient and relentless,
flooding notebooks with sad poems
all across the peninsula.
The umbrella has also forgotten me,
sprawled spindle-up on the terrace,
broken spokes remind me of
severed grasshopper legs,
splintered chicken bone.
After getting off the train in Avila, John and I notice that the weather has dropped about 15 degrees since leaving Madrid, plus the sky is overcast and rainy. Any time we decide to take a vacation anywhere, it’s COLD. Only after I return to Madrid do I discover that Avila has the reputation of being a notoriously cold town.
We follow the “Tourist Information” signs which instead lead us to the walled city: it’s impressive, especially with the backdrop of angry clouds. This is what I love about escaping the big city on the occasional weekend — I feel as if I’ve stepped into another century. I imagine the 15th or 16th century royalty bustling about inside the walled plazas, the guards stationed on the towers overlooking the town, on a day as rainy as this.
Since I haven’t come prepared for such weather, we do what we always do best: go on a coffee and lunch tour of the place. Various coffees, some beers, a kebab (because never again will I voluntarily eat another bocadillo) and some excellent conversation. We pride ourselves on the fact that at least we stepped foot outside the train station, and that we DID go up on the wall, even if for a short while. We must come back one day in the spring when Spain’s weather lives up to its expectations.