I said a regretful goodbye to my mother, promising to come back soon, promising to arrange another European trip for her. What sort of daughter leaves home and stays away? Difficult and disobedient just about sums it up, though the older I get the more I have in common with the women who founded the family.
I couldn't eat the food when I lived here, and nothing has changed. After several encounters with dubious meat (how is it prepared - what precisely are they doing to make it so greasy and foul?) I gave up. From now on, I will subsist on yogurt and energy bars.
It is possible I will also reverse a firm anti-whining policy and moan about this, if you happen to be within earshot. I was so excited to eat tacos! It is so unfair they make me queasy!
Lesson of the week: beach towns are rarely known for the excellence of the espresso.
Oh, and if I wished to frolic in my knickers I would do so, without paying for a so-called swimsuit. Why are modern bathing costumes so ridiculous?!
My idea of beach attire? Black clothing toe to knuckle to chin. Though I left my umbrella at home this time. Living dangerously!
Since 1988, no matter where I am in the world - from Tacoma to Olympia, London to NYC - I just have to think "I wonder what Karl T. Steel is up to right now...." And hey presto! There he is!
I have too many commitments to see friends this week, let alone on my anniversary, but how could I ignore the startling coincidence that KTS once again showed up improbably nearby?
Today we decided to go to Malibu and live out our Rockford Files fantasies. Except, you know, the car.
In theory this was our anniversary, but of what exactly? It has been fifteen years since we rocked up at the 24 Hour Church of Elvis, got hit with a magic wand, signed some papers, accidentally ended up on the evening news. Though in my view that was simply the day we scammed a discriminatory system, the day I became officially eligible for health insurance.
The only vows we took, the only promise I could have made given the distrait circumstances? To remain friends.
Traveling back down Gene Autry Way, everything here is familiar and known. Comfortable. Understood. References to public scandals I've never heard about about feel correctly calibrated. I no longer recognise the people in the newspaper, but I get the cadence.
The real puzzle is not the fact that I live in a different country: it is the fact that I am no longer poor. I'm living out the classic story of the country boy seeking his fortune in the big city, but how many of those novels have happy endings?
Rhetorical question: when traveling on my American passport, how long does it take for extreme drama to come snarling toward me like the most lethal sort of emotional hurricane?
Answer: something like three minutes.
There is no way to predict exactly what will go wrong, but something always does. This winter the controversy is in my so-called private life, and while I normally refrain from comment I am now far too old to obey the rules of etiquette imposed by blood kin.
I'm driving around endless ugly sprawling suburbs listening to AC/DC and feeling mournful. It is just like being young again, except for the music.
The most shocking visible difference? Despite excessive fuel costs, people appear to be driving ever larger vehicles. I'm a child of the seventies, I remember fuel rationing - and everyone switched to smaller cars, even my grandparents. And they owned a petrol station!
I guess folks nowadays need the new bigger cars to drive to their new bigger houses in new bigger suburbs?
Ten years ago I had never really ventured past the Rockies, never been to Europe, never traveled alone. I didn't have much money but scraped together enough for a birthday trip to NYC, booking a ticket that connected in half a dozen cities before depositing me in the middle of the night in a shuttered and frozen Long Island airport.
While unpacking I have been reading a random assortment of books and essays that turn up at the top of teetering stacks of shit. This is consistent with my normal approach to literature, but for whatever alchemical reason I keep encountering this stereotype of the English Rose - British women with dewy, lovely skin.