Today is my birthday as you might have figured out, and I’ve decided to give myself some gifts. I’ve decided to mentally travel to my favorite places. These places are like poetry to me.
At first, it was going to be my five favorite places. Then, it became my seven favorite places. Now, I’m just calling it my favorite places because I’m still adding to the list.
Yesterday, I got up early, and my back felt stiff. I decided to walk to Café Bassam, a coffee shop in San Diego. I ordered a coffee and pastry, and Bassam brought it to me and told me to pay when I was finished. Café Bassam is the way coffee shops should be. The coffee is served in a real cup, not a huge paper thermos like at Starbucks. There are marble top tables and wooden chairs. There are old wooden shelves and display cases with vases, crystal, candles, and knick-knacks for sale. Even though it sits on the ground floor of a new condo monstrosity of a building, I feel like I’m in an old place as the sun streams in through the huge windows. I can sit and mentally travel for an hour without interruption.
I am walking the blocks in Manhattan. When I was a poor college student, I would walk from the Village up Fifth Avenue to 100th Street. I’m walking the blocks, finding my stride among crowds of pedestrians, stopping at the traffic lights, scooting on through the crowds. I love the rhythm of it. No other city I’ve been to has that rhythm.
I use to spend summers with my grandparents in Portsmouth on Aquidneck Island. I was recently chatting with a gym buddy while on the treadmill. He used to rent a house in Newport when he was in college. I slowed down my pace on my treadmill. I was back there sailing under the Newport Bridge and swimming at Sandy Point Beach.
The Museum of Art in Cleveland, Ohio
I will only go to Cleveland during the summer months, but I like the Museum of Art there. It’s in a section of Cleveland called University Circle filled with other museums and Severance Hall and next to Case Western Reserve University. I use to go to the Art Museum for Saturday morning art classes when I was a kid. I would sit on the hard concrete floors of the galleries and make stained glass windows out of tissue paper.
I am sitting in the front seat of the top deck of a double-decker night bus. Suddenly, from out of the darkness, tree branches clap against the window and brush along the side of the bus.
I am standing on a harbor ferry. There’s even mist. We come around an embankment and suddenly see the opera house. I see it so often that it becomes a cliché.
This place is so beautiful that it can’t be really real. Is it just a vision or a haze? I’m paddling around in it. The biting flies are definitely real.
Meteor Crater in Arizona
It’s a giant hole in the ground east of Flagstaff and just off the freeway. Walking around the rim of it, I realized just how big a giant hole in the ground can be.
I can walk around the grey of Galway and not be depressed by it. There are houses and shops painted bright colors and swans swimming and begging in the bay. The fish and chips are excellent there.
The lowest point in the United States is like a giant stage to me.