Anyhow, we're not in San Francisco, but close. Well, 45-minutes-ish close. Palo Alto? You know, Stanford University, Google, Silicon Valley, etc. So, we've been here almost three weeks now and will probably be here for three years, at least. Then back to Japan.
Perhaps it's because I'm living in a hotel. Or because I'm coming from a place that is so radically different, but Palo Alto feels...unreal. Not in a good or bad way. It's just... Take the weather: flawless blue skies and blinding sunshine, all day, every day, until about 8pm at night, when the sun finally begins a very languid descent. And it doesn't change ever, we've been told, except for like a month of scattered clouds and drizzles in December. Unreal. Also, with this kind of weather, you'd think the place would be nothing but scorched earth (I, myself, am in fear that a few more months of walking under this unrelenting sun and I'm going to bear a striking resemblance to Clint Eastwood). But no, everywhere you look, there are the lushest, sweetest-green lawns you could imagine. You know the movie "Toys" with Robin Williams? Sometimes this place reminds me of the outdoor scenes for that movie (remember the giant toy elephant perched in the grass, blowing soap bubbles out of its trunk?).
Right now, we're searching for a home, but we haven't had much luck. As I mentioned, we've been staying at a hotel, one that accepts dogs, and life is pretty luxurious at the moment: heated pool (if you don't mind that it's permanently roiling with wee noisy munchkins on summer vacation and, combined with that, is permanently heated to a disturbingly warm temperature), free breakfast, and a very nice lady named Maria who cleans our room. We like Maria, my husband especially. He's always pointing out to me Maria's exemplary cleaning habits: "Look at the way Maria organizes the shampoo and conditioner bottles," he says, eyes glowing with approval. And, "Ahh, it's so nice to come back to a clean house. I wish we could live here forever." I try to point out how exhausted poor Maria looks some days, but that part doesn't seem to register with him. Maria has one other problem: She's scared of Edward. It doesn't help that he squeals and struggles in my arms like a rabid pig to get to Maria so that he can get some lovin', but, essentially, I have to keep Edward out of the room while she's cleaning. Unfortunately, Maria always comes at the hottest time of the afternoon, and so a walk is impossible. Edward and I have thus taken to hanging out in the deserted hotel dining area, me working at my laptop, Edward stretched out under the table while furtively lapping up crumbs embedded in the carpet.
This is another unreal thing about Palo Alto: You can take your dog just about anywhere. We recently visited the Stanford Shopping Center with Edward in tow, and were peering through the window of the Pottery Barn, when another couple cooly strolled inside with their dog. Another time, a security guard actually asked me to come into the store when he spotted Edward and me waiting outside for my husband.
How nice, right? But then...
Recently, still smiling at the sight of a bull terrier trotting through Macy's with its owner, I walked over to a counter and stepped right in a huge, sloshy puddle--though it was more like a small lake; no, a sea; the Parting of the Yellow Sea is what it quite literally felt like--of said bull terrier's pee. Needless to say, it was totally gross. And so I now fully understand the pros and cons of a pet-friendly society.