Tomatoes & Toast


Phase One: Spain with Dad.
Barcelona -> Madrid -> Barcelona.
Phase Two: Eastern Europe with Andrea.
Istanbul -> Cappadocia -> Ankara -> Sofia -> Belgrade -> Sofia.

Tomatoes & Toast

A simple breakfast for a nervous stomach
Day one of traveling solo
The lounge is silent but for sounds of butter knives scraping bread
“Easy” plays notably louder than the previous song
Don’t you know “I want to be free to know the things I do are right”
But I’ve no shortage of freedom
No one talks
Two can bond over coffee but it helps to be awake
We’ll bond over a different drink tonight
We’ll toast to new friendships

It took until two but I ventured out
Ten minutes one way, ten minutes back
Turn slightly, repeat
A do-si-do about Bulgaria
No one there to jaywalk first, throw a protective arm in front of me
So I cross at green signs only
I wonder if I look lost
Probably not
Just like I’ve never seen a thrift store before
Or a dozen sex shops at once
I watch him buy some flowers
I wonder the special occasion of this Wednesday afternoon
Is it just a special someone
I pass one yarn store, another, one crowded one more
I remember I forgot I know how to knit
So pot holders for Christmas for everyone

I found a coffee shop across from the hostel
We’d missed it last week right in front of our eyes
Too busy looking for one to see
Funny how that happens
I wandered away from it too far
Forgot where I’d left it just for a moment
But now I sit drinking what I think is a mug of espresso
It cost eighty cents
I’ll go back to the hostel and find the book exchange book written in English
Then walk some more, definitely talk some more
As Creeley said
“Now I’ve got time and space like a broken watch”

It’s day one of ninety-two
Here we go!

(to be continued)


A Different Kind of Writing Day

I taped my metro and Museo del Prado tickets on the same page of my journal, and with thoughts from a friend, ended up with this – written at breakfast on my last day in Barcelona hours after Dad left for the airport. I hope you enjoy. As always, any feedback, comments or ideas you have will be greatly appreciated. Writing better is always the goal.


By Janae DeRusso, August 2011

He created her with bold strokes-
heavy with the brush though the details faint.
He focused on her bright eyes in particular,
as though she’d been made to see rather than be seen.
A modest success, if no tour de force,
she holds her place in the museum,
but she’ll not be a Rembrandt to be remembered.
A face among a thousand frozen others,
her frame rests in one of the hall’s less looked-upon spaces.

Six-o-one. Her palm hits the alarm
and she exhales a sigh as it falls silent.
In the mirror, she paints her face-
she uses awkward hurried strokes-
and focuses on her tired eyes the most.
She’ll run late for work but pines to be seen.
En route to the cubicle, she boards the metro,
among countless hurried faces just another,
and her frame shares another’s personal space.

The sun sets; the crowds board the metro home.
Once more, alone. Her story hangs on the wall,
as much as most people care to know, anyway.
A name, a date, an accomplishment shared.
Seven seconds- the average attention span,
though a few will linger, if only to bide time
before their next meal or to tie their shoes.
A few will ask questions about her to feel important
only to be easily distracted from her all the same.

But the image of her is recalled by one,
as conceivable among a crowd of many.
It’s a captured moment of a longer story past,
and as only time will tell, perhaps future,
as someone beyond the frame of daily routine
and the walls of tempered expectations
uses a photo of her painted face as a bookmark,
saving his spot in the unfinished story
with the intentions of returning one day.