Trail of Crumbs

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One thing that has always struck me about the northeast United States is how many darn town squares there are. You can’t walk more than a few blocks without running right into some sort of old, well-laid-out public park. I figure it’s a hold-out from colonial times, when you needed public areas like that in which to graze cows and hang laundry and put literate women on trial for witchcraft.

At the time when many of these squares were first built up, land was much more affordable, and you could get, like, 100 acres in the center of town just by giving the mayor a few bags of grain and three of your children (relax – you have like, 12 more at home). So setting a huge piece of land with excellent views aside for the people was no real big deal, because real estate agents and apartment buildings didn’t exist yet.

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I am climbing the stairs up and out of the subway, and before I even reach street level, I know: I’m lost.

There are only two subway lines in Philadelphia, and I’ve managed to get on the wrong one. There’s plenty of amusement to be found in the situation (seriously, how the hell did I even manage this?), but at the moment I feel only stress.

I look up and down Spring Garden, the street for which this subway stop gets its name. None of this looks even remotely familiar, though this feeling of being lost in a strange city is one I know all too well. I am distracted, and so when a cigarette-wielding young man asks me if I have a light, I only mumble no, and look past him for some landmark, something I will recognize.

“Hey,” he says, gesturing to my camera. “Will you take a picture of us?”

“Sure,” I say, without thinking twice.

This catches them off guard.

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Self-portrait, Magic Gardens, Philadelphia.

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We spent a week in Philadelphia, and halfway through our trip someone asked me what I thought of it.

We were in a neighborhood bar, dark and cozy, the breed of which sadly does not exist in my town. Everyone knew everyone by name, and no one seemed to give a damn about tabs or checks or crafted cocktails.

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We weren’t in New York long. Just enough time for a trip to a few museums, a show, and for me to buy a pair of jeans at Uniqlo (they were so cheap that they stain my hands blue every time I wear them, and still I love them).

That jaunt to New York was a blip on the radar, sandwiched between other trips. But I managed to take a few pictures here and there (when I wasn’t forgetting my camera).

Here are ten shots from New York. I hope you like them.

  1. View from our porthole window, The Maritime Hotel, Chelsea.

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  2. Looking upward, Fifth Avenue.

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I’m … um … crap. Honestly, I don’t know where I will be when this post goes up. I’m currently writing it on a sunny afternoon in Seattle, but given the way the next few weeks are going, I might be in Ashland, or New York, or Portland when this finally goes live.

But these pictures? They were taken in Bavaria – there is absolutely no doubt about that. Nowhere else in my travels have I found such blue skies, snow-capped mountains, piles of freshly-baked pretzels, and the most entitled pug to have ever existed outside of a royal court.

Here are 10 photos from our last trip there. It feels like it was just last week, but apparently it was three months ago. If you need me, I’ll be out on the street (in whatever city I find myself in) asking people where summer went.

  1. Anton, who manages to look like he’s suffering, despite being constantly spoiled.

    Do NOT fall for the puppy eyes.

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Sometimes I will grab my husband, usually by the head, mash up his cheeks in my hands and say,

“Your face. Your STUPID face. I LOVE YOUR FACE. I’m … I’m gonna eat your face because I LOVE IT SO MUCH.”

I assume that all couples who have been together for more than a decade behave this way, expressing their affection through threats of cannibalism.

The thing is, though, I really do adore his face, every (tiny) crease and freckle and even the errant chicken pox scar on his forehead (that is almost, but not quite, a mirror reflection of one I have). To quote one of my favorite movies, “It’s … it’s a good face.”

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I’m almost done with Paris (at least, as far as blog goes. My personal love affair with the city is just starting). I have only one more post I really need to tackle, about the brunch we had on a grey morning, but I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the restaurant. I’ll have to enlist Rand’s help in looking up the name of the place, which wouldn’t be a bit deal save for the fact that he’s already looked it up for me, but I neglected to write down the name the first time around.

And he’s presently in Boston right now, anyway, speaking at a conference. My friend Kirsten sent me this picture of him on stage, and can I confess something? I totally squealed like a schoolgirl when I saw it, because he’s just so damn cute with his rolled up sleeves and his animated facial expressions.

Also, there are three of him. Mee-yow.

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I’m feeling a little lazy. And working on a post about the Louvre that I hope will make you laugh. And having some fun with photos.

Here are some I thought worked well together:

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