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The Strand Saturday Night
It was a busy weekend – a short family vacation. Everyone had their own agenda and a window of time. Saturday afternoon was my turn.

I had a list of places to see. It included The Strand, a Botanica, a Persian Restaurant, China Town and possibly the Indian neighborhood near a friends' old apartment. The Botanica was first because it was on the way into the city. 

I have a friend who likes Santeria and I wanted  to pick up something for her and for myself.  There is a small Botanica in NJ with a nice selection of incense and home-made candles and it was our plan to go there.

When we arrived however, the shop was closed. A second botanica nearby, sold mass produced candles and machine blended oils only. Somewhat daunted, we got an address for a third shop but were unable to locate it.

I have come to believe, as I’ve gotten older, that there is a current to things and I sincerely believe that it’s a spiritual current. This is not superstition, not “this is what is meant to be”  - or at least not necessarily  - but a kind of energy. Whether or not it is cognizant, whether or not it's destiny or great or small, it is very simply our own personal energy and mine just wasn’t cooperating!

We gave up on the candles and went into the city. There were lights and people and interesting restaurants.  Afternoon turned into evening and the whether turned sleety.  Hours later, after what seemed like miles of mid winter slush, we walked into the bright lights of The Strand, which if not the biggest used book store ever is certainly the biggest one I've ever been in. After the dark winter streets, it seemed crowded and cheery. There was an interesting occult section and in the end I found something connected to my cultural frame of reference.

I bought nothing to sell and nothing to give as a gift. The clock was ticking and we were tired and  and hungry and in the end, picking one good book was enough.  Being away from my usual routine I didn’t have a strong sense of the day but as I stood in line with my new book it occurred to me that what is open to us and what is closed has meaning.

That was Saturday and we didn't get a lot of news.  Still reports filtered in via snatches of CNN playing in the hotel lobby and iPad updates.  Things were happening in Egypt.  Being on vacation made it seem even further away then it was in fact I think. 

Sunday morning found us in the room in front of the television however.  We heard that ordinary citizen's were putting their lives on a very literal line to stand between looters and the Cairo museum.  Between the lines of courage and sweeping change and life and death, I was reminded how fundamentally important culture is to all of us.

I came home with my new book and some new ideas. I don’t know what it is about vacations but there is something about being free of the daily routine that encourages reflection and affords us the opportunity to see things from a slightly different perspective.

I'm always tired after a vacation and always glad to be back in my little backwater.  Still it is nice to feel the shift from time to time!

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  1. Interesting weekend! I adore day trips to NYC. Last visit I was captivated by Bodies ... the Exhibition.

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