Apr 13 2011
There comes a time in life when bluffing your way through adulthood actually turns into “Being a Grownup (capital G).” This is an important realization. Nobody ever knows what they’re doing really, but somehow they get there anyway. Which is, as it happens, one of the best perks of being a Grownup: having the freedom to take off and search for parts of yourself in faraway places. MiddleGround blogger, traveller, and Grownup Dylan Fitzgerald had a little help reaching her destination, and we are very proud that a member of the GCB staff gave her the inspiration to get where she needed to go. Obviously, we’re talking about Ulla the Golden Retriever, the Globe Corner Bookstore’s resident travel agent/guidance counselor extraordinaire.
It all started when Dylan read Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises in high school and made a promise to herself: One day she would stroll beside San Sebastian’s harbor and take in the sights from one of the nearby cafés, just like the novel’s main character Jake. After college and several dead-end jobs, Dylan wasn’t sure what to do with herself. Thankfully, fate brought her to Ulla during an afternoon walk around Harvard Square. Being the great Hemingway admirer that she is, Ulla encouraged Dylan to fulfill her old promise. After a few belly rubs and some serious conversation with her “new life line,” Dylan booked a trip, hoping to discover France, Spain, and maybe a part of herself too. “Paris. Bordeaux. Provence. Nice. Madrid. Barcelona. San Sebastian . . . I headed to Ulla’s bookstore shortly thereafter and started buying maps.”
From there, Hemingway himself took over from Ulla as Dylan wandered the city she had dreamt of for years, seeking to experience the scenes in The Sun Also Rises that had influenced her so much:
“I followed Hemingway’s directions with an almost religious zeal: walking ‘around the harbor under the trees to the casino [now a government building]‘ to a café in the cool shade. And I ‘sat out on the terrace and enjoyed the fresh coolness in the hot day, and had a glass of lemon-juice and shaved ice and then a long whiskey soda. I sat . . . for a long time and read and watched the people and listened to the music.’ (Actually a lemon ice, which is the closest I could get, and a whiskey with Pellegrino, fun to act out in broken Basque.) Ulla, the best sales dog in the world, who had reminded me that there were in fact some things I couldn’t screw up and some things — like a trip to San Sebastian — that I could get incredibly right.”
Ulla was happy to hear about the entire adventure when Dylan returned to the store with stories from her trip and, of course, more belly rubs. Though, we like to think of her as more than just a sales dog, even if she is the world’s best; Ulla makes an excellent friend who, for only a scratch behind the ears or a pat on the tummy, will happily help out a traveller in need.
Nicole -- Nicole hails from metropolian Conway, South Carolina. While she's not busy doing Southern things like eating biscuits and heavily buttered grits (often together), she likes to travel to other countries and eat their food. Her favorite exotic treats include: Icelandic Skyr, South Indian dosa, British Jaffa Cakes, and Austrian strudel.