16 January 2016

A rose among the thorns

Yale University @yale.edu
The stunningly patient and mighty fine SML awoke this morning with an URGENT need to go to that purveyor of all things Swedish (except there was not a Volvo, Saab, or ABBA department to be found), IKEA, for dishes. Yes, dishes. Don't ask.

This being Connecticutistan, per the Politburo that runs the state, it means that no "big box" retailer can be located conveniently to anyone and that it must involve at least a 45 minute drive (hence increasing the chance you will have to get gas and plough more tax dollars into the coffers for which you will receive ZERO benefit), so it was off to New Haven for us.

New Haven. It sounds so pastoral, so New England, doesn't it? After all, it has the word 'haven' in it. A haven, as defined, is a place of safety or refuge. It even suggests a place of tranquility. Well guess what? The word 'haven' needs to be suing New Haven, CT for defamation of character as it is anything but a tranquil place of refuge or safety. What it is is a place of high crime, significant diversity and poverty issues (talk about income gap), and a craptastic infrastructure (suffice to say, methinks the New Haven Visitors Bureau shall not be asking me to write this year's tourism brochure). It is also a place of roses among thorns. Wait...what?

Rose #1 - The Yale University Campus
After a successful incursion at IKEA, we made our way over to the Yale campus for a bit of a walk around. If you've never been to the storied campus and you've envisioned an old campus in the leafy foothills of New England, snap out of it. The only foothill is an onramp onto the I95, just south of the university. Instead you have a beautiful old campus, punctuated with greenery, and smelling of history, smack in the middle of the sickly ('Get a transplant, STAT!') heart of New Haven. As we walked through a couple of the colleges, the engraved arches, the heavy iron gates and stately wooden doors to the buildings quietly honored the rich history of the university and the learning that continues to this day. It certainly helped that since Mother Nature has yet to go all 'Snow SheHag' on us that the campus was fairly green in places. We talked a bit about the beauty of the campus and its 'rose among thorns' status and that has stuck with me today.

Rose #2 - Shake Shack
Right across the street from the Yale campus is an outlet of Shake Shack, definitely the other rose in the thorn fiesta that is New Haven. We went there for lunch post-IKEA, mostly as a reward to me because I managed to get through the IKEA without loudly complaining. This proves that even though I am entering my 50th year, I am still an arrested adolescent. Lovely. It gave us the chance to try their new Chick'n Shack sandwich, and I can happily give a "Go Eat This!" rating. That's based on just one bite as it was the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML's lunch order. I can't not go to the Shack and not get a burger. That would be a travesty.

So post-Shack / IKEA, I've been thinking about roses among thorns. Our lives are full of them, I know mine is. In Kolkata, India, I saw it in the light in the eyes of the people who had less than nothing and are largely scorned as they smiled at me from their shacks (and I'm being generous in that description) on the outskirts of a huge outdoor marketplace there. In that same city, I saw roses in the form of the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity order as they tenderly cared for the 'thorns' there. The 'thorns?' The forgotten, rejected, 'untouchable' people, not thorns at all. I've seen it in random of acts of kindness all over the world. I've heard it in the laughter of my grandson. That laughter is a powerful reminder that there is joy and goodness in this world.

A complaint-free trek through IKEA.
The sensation of a bit of the grease, yes grease, from a really good burger dribbling down your chin.
The beauty of an inspiring university campus.

Roses among thorns, indeed.

One last thing - why has Yale not erected a statue to its most revered alum, C. Montgomery Burns? Talk about a travesty....

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