2022

Cloud House

“Casa Nube” (“Cloud House) by Mexican artist, Beatriz CotaA.

This morning my neighbor, Daisy, came to my gate hoping to get some breakfast, just as she does several times a week. She doesn’t smell very good, and her coat is usually matted on one side. Even though Daisy is a border collie, she was measured as she always is. I opened the gate and she waited quietly while I filled a bowl with kibble. While she ate, I poured bird seed into a couple of bird feeders, and replenished the hummingbird feeder with sugar solution. Well, I thought, I’m becoming one of those grandmother types from my childhood who fed apple slices and vanilla wafers to everyone on the block.

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The Balloons at Calle Torres Landa

When I left my job in San Francisco 8 years ago to travel the world, I told my colleagues that I felt like the boy in “The Red Balloon,” sailing into the clouds to an unknown destination. I left, and what started as a six month adventure became an 8-year lifestyle. Houseless, I’ve made the world my home, with unfamiliar rooms and unpredictable rhythms. It has been a romantic time in my life, learning things about the world I never imagined, and freeing myself of a few of my acquired illusions. I’ve lived my longing.

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The Other Camino

About 1200 years ago, a group of devout Christians found a tomb with the buried remains of the apostle, St. James, in Galicia, a region of northwestern Spain. To honor him, Spanish kings built a magnificent cathedral in Santiago where his remains are buried today. Since then, millions of pilgrims — “peregrinos” — have walked hundreds of miles to Santiago’s cathedral along one of several paths beginning in Portugal, Spain or France. Four peregrinos finished the Camino de Santiago last week — Belle (BFF from the 6th grade), Laura (long time Berkeley friend), and Leticia (Belle’s buddy from her days in Sonoma County). And me.

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Madrid’s Life-Affirming Slaughterhouse

Part of the Klimt installation at the Matadero

Today, I went to a slaughterhouse in Madrid. Called “Matadero” in Spanish, the site is an architectural wonder the city has transformed into an innovative cultural center. https://www.mataderomadrid.org/en/discover Before I arrived, I wondered whether I would feel the ghosts of the center’s past. Instead, I felt joy and gratitude.

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The Train in Spain

View from my train window near Burgos

Travel is always enlightening. It is also occasionally disappointing and tiring, and, if you are traveling alone, lonely. Sometimes it is more than all of this. Sometimes you find a “thin place.” A thin place is where the distance between heaven and earth seems shorter, and reveals something deeper. Yesterday, I rode the train from Bilbao to Madrid and found a thin place.

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