― Mary Kelly
I was in Suzdal, Russia, a famously cute town filled to the rim with country churches and wide open farms. Golden sparkly domes topped the cozy little church next to me, plunked down next to a lazy river. Grass reeds lined the banks, waving in the breeze. I stood looking over the rail of a crumbly arched stone bridge, the exact kind that would someone would paint into such a scene. And, in fact, at the top of a nearby hill, an old man sat hunched with an easel and paints staring intently in my general direction. I was literally inside of a painting.
I pondered the flowing water beneath, lost in thought. Zoned out. Or in, perhaps. A strange duck looked up at me. Maybe it wanted to ask a question.
In the distance a little fairy town of wooden cottages and windmills and craft shops invited day-trippers from Moscow. But there weren't any takers on this sunny warm Tuesday afternoon. I had the tourist village all to myself. In fact, it seemed I had the entire town to myself.
That insanely irresistible smell of baking bread wafted out of a shop, mixed with fresh coffee. Next door, a little stain-glassed cave/chapel sold home-brewed mead. It was stunning inside, tinted reddish-purple-orange from the reflections of bright candles on glass. The honey-infused Apple-based mead was sweet, strong, and, well ... meady. If you haven't had mead before it's hard to describe. It is possibly the only alcohol in the world where the hangover starts before the buzz, but you don't really care because it tastes so damn sweet and awesome. I managed to get a headache that was somehow pleasantly tipsy, then stumbled out back into the warm afternoon sun.
And I thought, "I could live here." Like Mary Kelly, I came from a small town that, as a teenager, felt like a desert. Not a prison, really, I knew I could escape. But it just didn't have anything for me. California pulled me away as sure and strong as a Japanese toilet bidet. (Trust me, Japanese bidets are strong enough to sand-blast paint. Don't put your moo-goo there unless you enjoy pain.)
Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah, the City!!!
The City is bright, full of energy, filled with possibility!
But now, amongst the questioning ducks and pleasant 1-man-band accordion player and pretty country churches and wooden windmills and honeyed mead, or maybe because of the honeyed mead, I found myself 2nd-guessing that idea.
Perhaps it was time to head back to the country. Buy a little house, put down roots in a small town full of familiar faces where everyone knows my name. (Mostly because I'm named after a freaking Disney fish.) The air smelled of grass and bread and coffee and horses and freshy-ness. I inhaled deep.
The duck quacked, and I swear it nodded its head at me. Maybe it knew it's question had been answered. Or maybe it had gas. Either way, we were both now supremely content.
|When offered a very large tasting platter of mead, just say "Da."
|Fields of gold