To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world—impartial natures which the tongue can but clumsily define. The spectator is a prince who everywhere rejoices in his incognito.
Charles Baudelaire in The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays
Saw a tweet the other day and wish I’d saved it. Asked to define her career goals in a job interview, a woman responded: “I want to use ‘summer’ and ‘winter’ as verbs.”
Not sure that proved a job-scoring answer, but I loved it. Because one of the best aspects of getting older is the freedom to wander. No one holds you to two or three weeks a year any longer. Slow travel.
We used to ponder whether our goal should be to become boulevardiers or flaneurs when we “grew up.”
Okay, time for a confession. We have failed.
Both words seem more than a tad decadent for our traveling lifestyle. We don’t stay in hoity-toity hotels. We stay in small apartments. Breakfast is not spent in cafes, but in our home-away-from-home.
As the Mister says, we are not really vacationing as much as temporarily switching zipcodes. According to the Mister’s Fitbit, instead of occupying seats in trendy spots, we traversed about 50 miles of sidewalks a week in Madrid. We only ordered a cocktail seated at a bar once. Instead of late-night barhopping and tapa-feasting with the Madrilenos, we settled in for a light salad or homemade vegetable soup en casa.
Hardly deserving of the title boulevardiers or flaneurs, we admit.
On the other hand, the word “retirees” does not have a nice ring to it. The English word sounds so exhausted and past tense.
After all, the Mister is still a bluesman, and I’m still writing. The tools of our chosen avocations – guitar and computer – accompany us everywhere. But we use those on our own schedules and because they are our passions. In Madrid, sundown generally found us at home, nestled in our basement quarters contentedly plucking on guitar strings and pecking on computer keys.
A month spent wandering in Madrid, and we are leaning toward a more optimistic-sounding Spanish term for those who no longer are hemmed in by or defined by work.
So here are some random, parting shots from los jubilados.
Hope you don’t mind switching continents, but the next slightly postdated postcards will be “mailed” from a zipcode in Puebla, Mexico.