I'm at a fast coffee shop in residential Los
Alamos--an intense departure from rural Abiquiú.
I just ate lunch at a regional chain sandwich shop.
After lunch, but before coffee, I wanted to visit the
I was unable to explore the building because a wedding
reception was about to begin in a few hours, and the caterers
were in full swing last minute mode.
With pleasant weather and no immediate desire to drive
anywhere, I sat with my coffee at a café table
just outside the shop. I listened to the accelerated talking
buzz while gathering my thoughts about the day thus far.
For breakfast I had a cheddar cheese omelet
and a manaeesh:
a Mediterranean-styled "pizza." My host accidentally
let the manaeesh burn around the edges because we were
engaged in a conversation about grocery
shopping, which is one of the activities she enjoys doing
when she travels abroad.
Turns out my host and I have both been to Helsinki,
Finland, and St.
Petersburg, Russia. She twenty+ my senior, provided
much perspective on my experience. She visited the two
regions during the détente
of the Cold
War; I during the crest of Yeltzin's
economic reform. We both had been to (different parts
of) the Hermitage;
however, she hadn't seen the "Russian
A New Yorker from Hell's
Kitchen, she had traveled throughout Northern Africa
and Europe (East and West). She spoke about how she socialized
during her visits. I shared with her about my experience
social-drinking in Graz,
Speaking of sociability, we discussed
taxis and what that meant (not
just who was driving the car, but also the make of the
car), and we discussed what
standing in line meant. We discussed grocery selection
York, in Syria,
We got to talking.
We touched on our reasons for traveling to Europe, but
we grabbed onto our feelings about American
living: she being she, me being me.
The morning was moving forward quickly, and was starting
to get away from us. She asked me where was I going today.
"While on your way (to and from), be sure to stop
off in Santa
Clara, take the Tsankawi
Trail, and visit the Bandelier
National Monument proper."
She showed me on a map and sent me on my way.