I suppose it’s just natural to be thoughtful on a trip alone. No one to talk to, no one to balance plans or “must-see” lists with. Also, my detox from work may have something to do with it. For the longest time I had to turn off so many normal levels of higher-order thought, like being pensive. I had to strip down my functions as a human being so I could do the one thing that mattered at the time: finish the project.
Anyway, now it’s early Saturday morning, my last day in Europe, and a pretty steady rain is falling outside my window into the canal. I was hoping that today the weather would clear up, at least for four hours or so midday, so I could use some of the barely touched Centuria stock I’ve brought with me. I only have one roll of black and white left, and then it’s all color. That’s pretty much been the weather this trip, though.
I wonder a lot about being sure of things, decisions I make in life. The more experience I accumulate and the older I get, the harder it seems to make decisions on a whim, impulsively. There’s always some bit of “oh I remember having something before that reminds me of that, and I didn’t really care for it, it’s not me.” Then you just brush it off, cull it away, and don’t give it any more thought, choosing something that looks more familiar or closer to your comfort zone. I think a good microcosm of this general problem is soft drinks. Every time I go to a different country they have different soft drinks. Sure, all countries may have some form of tea, but the ingredients and flavor vary wildly. There was a time when the only tea I knew was the iced tea with lemon and sugar that my grandmother made on holidays. So I came from a family of black tea; sugared, lemon. Ok, I knew what that was. Then the first time I met Melia for a date, we met on The Corner. I forget the name of the place but that tea place near Greenskeeper. She ordered a cold green tea with ice. I thought it was the craziest thing, and trying it absolutely hated it. It was so different from Lipton’s, lemon, and sugar. It was just… thin, slightly bitter, austere.
Then on a completely unrelated branch of my academic life I went to Japan, and of course everyone drank cold green tea there, in plastic bottles nonetheless, and I had to adapt. This was two years from when I first met Melia, and I think my mind was a lot more open to trying new things then. I mean, I was in Japan, out of the country for the first time, I had a passport, everything was new. And a girl I had a crush on swore by it, so truthfully my love affair with Itoen began with one for a woman. But now I can’t even think about not drinking sugarless tea cold. Sencha, bancha, mugicha, sobacha, jasmine… the list goes on and on. Pure, additive-free simplicity. And now in these last five years, every time I’ve gone abroad and found another convenience store or market filled with some semblance of green tea reconstituted with a ton of heavily processed sugar, it just breaks my heart. I just see a bottle with a flavoring written on it, “Peach tea”, and I cringe. Because I know it has so little to do with the actual fruit and so much with syrup and red six.