our first stop was the paper source. i've never been inside only because i thought it'd be expensive (true). people who go there are usually looking for the perfect paper for formal invites (e.g. weddings). we bumped into our old BHS classmate alex delaney, with her nearly 2 year old daughter. it seems just 2 years we bumped into her on the sidewalk with her husband walking their newborn baby, and now she has a toddler. kids grow up so fast. we chatted briefly, then watched alex frantically search for her daughter, who was "hiding" on one corner of the store. it was also from here that renata started to deteriorate in health, very quickly experiencing the onset of a cold. next came sweet teas, where after having another awful thai ice tea, i'm vowing never to go back. the location is great, the service is wonderful, and the decor is cool, but the teas suck. the tapioca balls are hard and the teas don't taste as advertised. renata got a hot cup of thai ice tea with bubbles, asking me if i was proud of her for breaking out of her vicious green tea slushie circle.
next: a shoe store where renata was looking for tights followed by joie de vivre, one of my favorite stores for finding rare gifts. renata bought a michael jackson birthday card for her brother while i got some pig toys for my sister (she collects pigs). a few clothing stores, dimio pizza to use their bathroom, then across the street to barefoot books, a children's bookstore. i've always wondered how they stay in business and we found out that it's actually the commercial storefront of barefoot books publishing. renata thought a lot of the books were too wordy for younger kids. there were panels of original storybook artworks for sale for hundreds of dollars. in the back was a storytelling room, set up like the inside of a tent (inspiring, i want to set up my living room like that one day).
at nomad i bought a chilean clay fortune pig for my sister. renata said there are a lot of stores like this in texas. then came the irish yarn store, a quick in-and-out just to get a sample of what the place was like. next door was that zany home decor store. there were a lot of cool stuff but they all seemed really expensive. i showed renata the "renata" lantern. by that point renata was feeling pretty cold and wanted to return to my place (2 blocks away) to find another layer to wear.
as soon as we arrived at my place, renata seemed to be experiencing the full bout of her sudden cold. i raised the heat, made some ginseng tea, and bundled renata up in a fleece throw. we watched some nature shows, renata horrified by the non-safe antics of the crocodile hunter. it was nightfall by that time, and my father stopped by briefly to deliver some more turkey leftovers. renata and i ate by the kitchen counter. i showed her the proper way to eat thanksgiving turkey, peking duck style. we also split the last of my flan. i turned away as renata cut it in half, i couldn't bear to see a perfectly good-looking flan desecrated like that.
our tentative plans to go see a movie (either the incredibles or motorcycle diaries) fell through. without a car, transportation would be a problem. in the end we decided to walk to harvard square, buying the pink tinsel christmas tree renata's brother wanted (from urban outfitters), then either take the bus or the subway back to her place, after a bit of walking. renata ended up smashing a plastic container full of expensive christmas ornaments before we left with our pink christmas tree. we decided to go back to renata's by bus. unfortunately the ones that we wanted had just left by the time we got to the station. we decided to wait. the evening turned a bit sour when renata forced me to erase about a third of all the photos i took of her tonight, the "ugly" ones. i was torn between artistic integrity and keeping renata happy, but in the end the preservation of memories was defenestrated. i was in a foul mood after that, despite renata's attempts to cheer me up through word association games.
the bus ride back to belmont was retrospective. i was deep in nostalgic memories from all the times i took the exact same bus to go home to belmont, getting off at my usual stop, walking home in the dark cold night, not a single car in the streets, the sky twinkling with stars. we both remembered that it was almost exactly 2 years ago that we became "reacquainted." renata didn't think we'd be hanging out as much as we have, since when most people say, "let's get in touch," they don't follow through. i told her with so many people moving out of the area or getting married, there's a general lack of people to hang out with.
once we got off at the nearest stop, we took turns carrying the christmas tree box while walking to renata's place. the air was surprisingly brisk, the temperature taking a sharp dip. i was able to fix her answering machine (just unplug and plug back in) before i got a ride back to my side of cambridge.