Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture
It’s 12:55 am at Stansted Airport, and we await our morning flight to Bilbao, the most direct route to Pamplona — at one time this seemed such a distant possibility — and our new home. We’re at Costa Coffee and the place is rocking like a Vegas eatery after a Sinatra show!
Stansted is a 24/7/365 airport, and, while the departing flights are now over, the Int’l Arrivals still spew humans looking ready, tired, wacked, drunk, hampered, bland, or happy. I took a walk around a while ago. Many humans of various shades and smells have taken up spots along walls, in corners, or one of the several all-night places. The cheapos won’t fork over the price of a Panini & coffee & dessert for a comfortable chair. Fuck them.
We’ve got a great corner seat with high-back cushioned seats with a view of all the action. I downed a big-big-big coffee about two hours ago, and I’m flying. Maybe I’ll not even get a wink of sleep; looks like a game of Scrabble is on the menu!
We’ve left our palace apartment in Prague for good. We took a last walk around an hour or so before we left; good times in that home, and in the city where we were married. Yet only as we left, and the door closing behind us, did it really strike that we’d never again go into that apartment. No tears were shed, and the feeling left us as we boarded the metro toward the airport.
Now we have a new flat to move into in Pamplona tomorrow. We’ll get there in the afternoon, see our NEW flat, and begin a new story in our lives, a continuation of what we have together, yet in environs and under conditions excitingly new, adventurous, and exotic (in some ways).
But … we’re in limbo at the moment: no apartment in Prague; Pamplona a day away; we’re in an airport with dozens of others doing much the same thing, only their stories intersect with our only for this night. That is, unless I use one in a story some day.
I’m taking notes.
As autumn fast approaches, this Sunday morning broke sunny. I had planned to write all morning, but days like today will soon be a memory. It seemed better to make this morning more notable than merely taking notes and writing four pages.
I asked Asia if she wanted to take the #22 tram up to the castle, walk through its courtyards and then down along the deer moat, finally escaping out well behind the Hradcany squares, and through Petrin Park. Asia’s a morning-walker, so she agreed. I announced we would leave in one hour! She said, “Oi!”
It’s best to do anything early on a weekend. The tourists are out after 11am. And so are the Czechs, awakened from their drunken slumbers after yesterday’s big wine festival. Anyway, we beat the rush, and only had to wend our way through islands of tourists in the castle courtyards. The sun is at a good angle this time of year, which reflects off the gilt facades.
When the gates to the gardens opened at 10, we walked along the Orangery and down the steep trail into the deer moat. It’s so peaceful in this moat valley, and cool in the shade; view up the escarpment to the castle walls are ancient, picturesque, and dramatic.
Few people anywhere; tourists trapped on the bridge high above us. In the cave between the north and south moats, we took ghoulish photos.
One of the minor Hapsburg palaces, well behind the castle, has now opened its gardens to the public, and we walked through this 10-acre site.
Lots of benches sit under shady trees; topiary hedges dot the grounds like a lot of tossed gumdrops. Then we went through Petrin Park, which has, arguably, the best views of the city along the river and all the church spires.
We walked down through the park and hopped on the #22 coming back across the river and up the hill to our neighborhood. By now many of the unwashed had come out (only their God knows why they can’t smell themselves; perhaps an idea would be to send another 40-day flood to wash out the filthy).
Our treat for the day shall be homemade cottage fries, half in the pan and half baked. With lots of salt and mayonnaise. And, there’s still plenty of time to fiddle with my novel, if’n a bout of sleepy-head doesn’t grab us for a lazy afternoon snooze.
What Beauty is my newest novel, a story of art, obsession and ego. Read an excerpt here. It’s available as an ebook, too.
The Village Wit (2010) is a humorous and sometimes dark odyssey through village life, love’s fall, sexual politics, and that place where memory and modern love intersect. Read an excerpt here. This book is also available as an ebook.
Yeah, it’s coming up on my fourth anniversary having moved to Prague. The time has gone quickly enough; which is good because, for life in other places I’ve lived, there was more slow-torture than anything else. Of course, a fast-moving life isn’t what I’m after, but with the time to do good work in my pocket, I have no homesickness for the USA and all that it was and has become.
On the other hand, I’ve never been one to “miss” places I’ve lived. Only people. But they’re a Skype-click away, these days, and that’s often as good as living down the street — just not quite the same. But that missing places thing, idea, notion … it’s what has let me leave Chicago, leave NYC, leave the USA, leave friends behind who didn’t call all that much when I lived in town, and don’t call at all now. (So there!) I’ve lived in Malta and France, Atlanta and the charming wilds of NW Illinois. And now Prague.
The common theme between all these cities is that I wanted to live there, and liked meeting their long-residing people, knowing many of them, and continuing to correspond with many as well. Not bad, for a vagabond.