Here I am, trying to process it all, trying to document it, mostly for my own benefit, but also for my family and friends and anyone else who is interested in reading through my ramblings.
It all feels like something I should remember. And without my pictures, I'm left with the words.
I can recall exactly what we did on certain days very easily. The first days and the last days I remember quite clearly. But the middle days, Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday, tend to blur together. But I do remember this:
Tuesday was Chinatown. On and off rain. Umbrella up. Umbrella down. There were two kinds of shops in Chinatown: those that were terribly tacky full of tourist junk and those that were unbearably exquisite, full of intricately detailed and ornately patterned items. Expensive things. For having admittedly different tastes, for some reason Sean and I share a love of Asian art. I think we both wanted to buy everything we saw in those pretty shops. Origami crane earrings, art-covered pill boxes, rusted Chinese coins in various sizes and various stages of wear, colorful elephants, elaborate villages carved out of ivory, sake sets and tea sets, deep red statues of frogs and Buddhas, Kama Sutra-lined jewelry boxes. Sean bought two cloisonne wiggle fish: a navy one for him and a gold one for me. Someday we will hang them in a birdcage, swimming in arched circles around each other. He also bought me a delicately carved miniature cylindrical box made of cinnabar, a bright red Chinese lacquerware which I was absolutely obsessed with and carried back and forth between the hotel room and his dorm room.
After passing through Chinatown we went to the 901 Columbus Cafe, an understated coffeehouse that Sean frequents between his art classes. The cafe was everything I love about cafes: dim and cozy with an eclectic, artsy feel, miss-matched seating, comfy sofas and armchairs, brick walls, original photographs and paintings, the menu handwritten on the wall, chairs and tables outside, and drinks served in actual glasses, mugs, and cups and saucers. I ordered a Zebra cappuccino and we sat for a short while.
We then headed to Z. Cioccolato for fudge: Cabernet Dark for me and Raspberry Cheesecake Swirl for him. Then it was off to City Lights Books which I could see myself spending many hours in. It's a bookstore with the newest books, like a Barnes & Noble, but the likeness ends there. City Lights is independently-owned and had a more intimate, alternative feel with bookshelves lined diagonally and haphazardly rather than parallel. The main floor was Literature, the second floor was Poetry, and the basement was full of Science Fiction, Cooking, Travel, Biographies, Science, etc.
With tremendous effort, neither of us bought anything but we made mental notes and jotted down titles for future reference. (I also made a mental note to further explore the block surrounding the bookstore, like Vesuvio, The Beat Museum, The Dreaming Room, and Jack Kerouac Alley.)
More to come...