As exciting as my second day in Seattle was, the pleasure of opening my eyes to the city on the very first day is quite unmatched. This was the day I discovered America’s best pain au chocolat (at Café Besalu) and chanced upon the bread emporium that is Le Painier. Still, my memory of this day is characterized primarily by something quite ordinary: the azure arboretum that kidnapped my consciousness as I walked to hail a taxi in search of Besalu’s goodness. So simple, so striking, this collection of trees right in the middle of downtown Seattle with their trunks and branches painted a sharp blue. The sight drew me in. Yet, I’m certain residents and commuters pass it’s magnificence daily, without note. I suppose we are all guilty of neglecting to note the beauty of our quotidian surroundings, teased instead by the exotic, which by definition, must be the foreign. Yet, alluring as the extremities of the planet may be, I have learnt that travel is more about the mentality with which we journey than the destination; one can even embark on a expedition in one’s own quarters. It is precisely this idea of the travel-mentality that Alain de Botton elucidates in his exposition of Xavier de Maistre’s work: “A Journey Around My Room”.
de Botton writes:
“… de Maistre’s work sprang from a profound and suggestive insight: the notion that the pleasure we derive from a journey may be dependent more on the mind-set we travel with than on the destination we travel to. If only we could apply a travelling mind-set to our own locales, we night find these places becoming no less interesting than, say, the high mountain passes and butterfly-filled jungles of Humboldt’s South America. What then is a travelling mind-set? Receptivity might be said to be its chief characteristic. Receptive, we approach new places with humility”
And indeed, receptive, we approach familiar places with humility, knowing that their beauty is renewed each day through our openness and curiosity. But today, that day, Seattle was brand new and I was sucked into the deep blue tree(s). So simple, so striking, much like the shoes I chose to wear that day, they too, new to me. My friend Fred, back home in Ghana, started a shoe business just a few year’s back — Heel the World, he and his comrade in business called it– and after my haranguing him every year since the company’s inception, I finally managed to have him make me a pair of crisp clean loafers with just the ample sprinkling of quirk. How better to walk a new mile than in new shoes?
What I wore: Club Monaco leather and spandex legging in chocolate, custom-made Thai silk shirt, custom-made Queen Thai Silk silk sleeveless blazer, Banana Republic trench coat, HTW custom-made loafers, Céline Luggage Mini handbag, Céline “Audrey” 41755 sunglasses, Hermès enamel bracelet, Kenneth Jay Lane bracelet