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Shaved Meats, Piled High: August 2022
How Can You Miss Me if I Don't Go Away?
I have an admittedly disproportionate fear of burglars. In my defense, I have been burglarized once (wallet, digital camera, a solitary ticket to that weekend's Ravens game) and there was another attempt a few years later, but our alarm system, WHICH I NOW USE RELIGIOUSLY, defeated the would-be thief. So when I left the country for a week of teaching in Italy and then a family vacation in Spain, I didn't want to draw attention to my absence. Hence, no social media posts, no matter how beautiful the sites in Florence, Siena, Bilbao, San Sebastian, and Madrid.
And no morning posts on Twitter, where I typically begin the day with a photograph of the Domino Sugars sign and a cheery, "Hello, Baltimore" riff. I thought about offering an explanation for my absence, but -- burglars! Besides, the thing about Twitter is that no one really notices when you're not there; the algorithm often hides even my favorite accounts from me and I go weeks without realizing it.
What do you know, Twitter (and Baltimore) went on without me, and without updates from Rome (hot), Florence (hot), Tuscany (hotter), Bilbao (perfect) San Sebastian (perfecter) and Madrid (hot, but a quick thunderstorm made it bearable and we were there only one day). It was one of my best vacations ever and my first time out of the country since just before the pandemic. There were Michelin-starred restaurants, but also bags of Bugles shared on long car rides as we played a beloved game, Botticelli. A trip to the Guggenheim in Bilbao. Flamenco and churros in Madrid. And, perhaps my favorite day, a visit to the town of Guernica, which added some real layers to our viewing of Picasso's painting four days later in Madrid's Museo Reina Sofia. The heat wave made it impossible to maintain my walking schedule, but I still ended up with an average of 4.8 daily miles for July.
Oh, I also conducted a wedding in Tuscany. The groom and the bride are still on their honeymoon as I write this, so I'm not going to share too many details as I haven't asked their permission. It was an impulsive plan, one hatched the first night in Italy, when the faculty for the writers workshop realized it would be too hot for some of the planned activities, so we needed to change up the programming. "Why don't you get married?" the workshop's founder and leader, Ann Hood, asked the engaged couple among us. The next day, with only an hour before we had to leave Florence and head to Spannocchia, Helen Schulman and I took the bride dress-shopping; we found the perfect dress and shoes in less than 45 minutes. As always -- it's only my second wedding as an officiant -- I took my duties seriously and included some poetry. The bride wore my best gold bangle and a pair of rose gold earrings, both from my favorite Italian-born jewelry maker. (I buy it used most of the time.) Now, every time I wear these items, it's as if they're charged with the happiness of that young couple.
Read/Reading: The Paris Apartment, Lucy Foley; Second Place, Rachel Cusk, Rules of Civility, Amor Towles, Devotions, Mary Oliver; Lunch Poems, Frank O'Hara.
Re-reading: Student work (a novel and a memoir) for manuscript consultations.
Me, me, me: "Here's your beach read," Seth Meyers declares and who am I to argue?