With rural sensibilities under our belts, we were ready for the big city. Starving, we made a beeline for Whole Foods - sure to provide yeast-free dining. I happily scooted around the enormous organic salad bar. Check-in at Hotel San José wasn't until 3:00 pm, so we walked over to BookPeople. Cappuccino (Johnny) and yerba maté (me) in hand, we roamed around my favorite bookstore. Strangely, we did not buy that much (we normally clean house):
-The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (Johnny finished the Teddy Roosevelt book he packed).
-Jane Kenyon: Collected Poems (for me).
-A Moleskine address book (so I'll quit e-mailing everyone saying, "Hey, what is his/her address again?")
-Another box of Kyoto Autumn Leaves incense (I can't find it at our local Whole Foods anymore).
-A birthday card for a friend.
-A sock monkey key chain. I must take a photo soon. See, the deal is, the last time we visited BookPeople we saw those little guys on the way out the door. I have an odd passion for sock monkeys. I begged Johnny, "May we go back and get one - they are just $4.25??" We were in a hurry, so he promised I could get one next time. And on our 5th anniversary, he proved to be a man of his word once again.
No magazines, though I almost purchased American Craft. Which reminds me, when I mentioned Yard Dog the other day, I forgot to say they sold Raw Vision magazine which looked very cool. I love folk art. I might have to try both publications later.
After book-browsing, I was worn out. When I am healthier, I won't feel 90 years old in the afternoon, but until then, I need to rest. We checked into our room and crashed for a spell. Crashing in the San José is the definition of tranquil. The minute you step into the courtyard, it is like a big Zen garden. You know, like those tiny ones to play with at your desk. Seriously, though, as camera shy momma said on flickr, "it really is an oasis, the courtyard makes the city just go away." You can hear cars whiz by on S. Congress, but somehow the hotel grounds are serene. The rooms are beautiful in a stripped-away sense. I've been told that Johnny and I are minimalists; maybe that is why we enjoy the San José decor so much.
(I think this hotel also influenced our living room paint color)
However, we've got our clutter in closets like everyone else. Plus, though life has been good for us lately, it has also been challenging (health-wise for me), thus our sparse room gave me a clean perspective. It was easy to focus. To relax. And, Hotel San José might appeal to the Simmonses' previous monastic leanings. Before we met, we both were on a dating break of oh, let's say, at least seven years. I read a lot about St. Francis and Mother Teresa (one of my heroines), and Kathleen Norris' The Cloister Walk (so beautiful). I thought to myself, "Guys, schmuys." That, and I yearned for the focus and simplicity of being a nun; working with my hands, the hourly offices. But then I went Anglican, and I met Johnny. While on a date, I laughed when he mentioned that he, too, had contemplated the monastic life. Obviously we were all talk, but in a way, a San José room is similar to a sparse monastic dwelling, except for the TV. And the mini bar.
After awhile we decided to walk down S. Congress in search of a restaurant that would fix me a yeast-free supper. I would rather crawl under a table than discuss my obnoxious diet, but Johnny spoke up for me at the Woodland, and they were so kind. I had a big salad with plain grilled salmon, and aromatic espresso. I don't know what it is with me and salmon, but even plain, grilled salmon makes me very happy. We asked for the manager on our way out, and I swear he thought we were gripers, but we thanked him. As of late, we are convinced that Christians must express gratitude; not only to God, but to others. A meal like that made it a little easier to see the hey cupcake! Airstream trailer as we walked back to the hotel. [um, Johnny? Could I have one of these for our 50th anniversary?] Our motto became, "Next year!" As in, next year I will enjoy merlot, cupcakes, and San José's granola for breakfast, but this year was good, too. I really can't complain. If I did, I would surely be like the Israelites who complained about God's provision of angels' food, so I'll keep my mouth shut. Maybe salmon is also angels' food.
One of many plans I have for our home is to offer more hospitality to friends and strangers, so I enjoy learning the art of hospitality from the likes of Andi Ashworth (her book Real Love for Real Life is highly recommended); and the Gruene Apple & Hotel San José. We were treated so well in both places and by both cities. I define good hospitality as portraying the kindness of God, and we received it tenfold.
Now, for our San José room:
[every room has a poem tacked to a bathroom wall. This poem is by Ellen Bryant Voigt.]
[the coolest mini bar ever! We did not partake, but we purchased that DVD last year - a documentary called The Last Days of the San José. You should watch it.]
[Johnny's eggs ranchero and coffee, and my tea & newspaper]
[Eames, how I love thee]
[this was right outside our door. I sat out here for hours on Saturday morning. The air was cool, most people were still asleep or walking quietly to Jo's for coffee, and oh my, those chairs were comfy. Great reading chairs.]
[these female neighbors were SO LOUD the night before. They sat at "our" table and chairs, right by our window, and yelled their entire conversation. They even shouted to flirt with guys who walked by. This was about 3:00 am and my 90-year-old body was not happy. Hotel San José has a fabulous wine bar and we love to drift off to sleep listening to clinking glasses and chatter by the pool, but not YELLING right by our window. This was the only negative part of our whole trip.]
[I want one]
When I looked up from taking photos, I saw this billboard on S. Congress. It's hard to describe why I was surprised to see it since I was obviously in a city. Just spend a night at the San José and you will see what I mean, and why Johnny and I are hooked on this place. I pray for many, many more anniversary celebrations at this peaceful getaway.