Wednesday, July 3, 2013

London to Paris

      I hadn’t seen the white cliffs of Dover until the ferry was halfway to France and from that distance the formation was still quite impressive. It seemed as if the chalk cliffs were the only spit of land separating the blue of the sky from the blue of the sea. And I turned towards Calais and I could see the Tricolore fluttering in the breeze. Loneliness quickly overcame the elation I had felt at the sight of the English and French coastlines. Thoughts of Ophelia had been for the most part suppressed, but at that moment I had wished she was with me to witness this sight. She may have crossed the channel already, via the Chunnel I’m sure. She wouldn’t take a bus, it is so pedestrian. I hope she is being more frugal than that, otherwise she’ll have to head home before we planned to. Then again, she’ll probably have her dad dump some money into her account and he’ll do it willingly as long as it keeps us apart. Well enough about that bullshit. I don’t care. This is my chance to contemplate my life and choices. Ophelia is just as free to do the same and I will not hinder this adventure with thoughts of what she might be doing. Good luck with that.
      The bus arrived in Paris roundabout eleven p.m. Made it to Young and Happy Hostel just before midnight. It is located in the Latin Quarter in the 5th arrondissement. The hostel is on rue Mouffetard which led to Rome in the days of the empire. The Pantheon, Notre Dame, the Botanical Gardens and Luxembourg Garden are all just ten minutes away by foot. The hostel is decent. The staff is great. The price for two nights in the mixed, ten bed dorm is steep…sixty-six bucks American. Didn’t hang too long the first night. Went to a bar. Surprisingly, it was difficult finding one, after all this is a student neighborhood. It was an Irish pub, small and crowded. Had a few pints of Guinness. Staggered back to the hostel and crashed almost immediately. Woke about ten in the morning still feeling buzzed from the beer and jetlag. Haven’t experienced much these last few days, but I will try to recap some of the more interesting things. To be continued…   

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Experiment Begins

Ophelia and I arrived in London a couple of days ago and I had hoped that the documentation of this experiment would be posted to this blog in “real” time, but this is not twitter where I must be brief and poignant in 140 characters or less. I can’t share all that I would like in regards to my accommodations, the locale, history, art, literature, fellow hostellers and of course the emotional ups and downs that I will undoubtedly encounter in one sentence increments. I must share everything that I feel, see, touch, taste and think no matter how embarrassing, boring, hurtful or politically incorrect it might be and it cannot be done or summed up in brief and therefore I will try to post the chronicles of this experiment as expeditiously as possible.
      As I said before, Ophelia and I arrived in London two days ago around three-thirty in the afternoon. We parted ways at the St. Paul’s tube station in the City of London. It was a quick farewell, just a peck on the lips and a hug. I had imagined a more emotional scene that what it actually was and I was really relieved that it was quick. I was just too tired and sore to exert any more energy into the matter as I am sure Ophelia was too. There was a slight twinge of anxiety in the center of my chest though as I watched the train depart the station with Ophelia still aboard; her destination unbeknownst to me. But all anxiety melted away the moment I reached the surface of the city. It had been nearly sixteen hours since I stood outdoors and just as long without a smoke. It was grand breathing-in the fresh English air before inhaling the toxic fumes from a long anticipated puff of a Camel cigarette. I got a nice head rush from it and I stood there for a bit appreciating the head change and the beautiful architecture of St. Paul’s cathedral.
      In the shadow of the grand cathedral stands London St. Paul’s Hostel, a former school for the choir boys of the cathedral. I arrived there shortly before five p.m. and booked a bed in a four-bunk, male only dorm for $32 bucks American per night. Way more than I wanted to pay so I only booked it for two nights. I had no idea where I would go after that, but two nights at that price was all I was willing to pay. The hostel does have many amenities, but no communal kitchen and the restaurant on the premises, I read, serves crappy food for five pounds. I don’t want to pay that much for English food. Who does? The hostel is very clean and the staff is fantastic, but the majority of guests were families and elderly folks which changed the vibe that I am accustomed to at other hostels. Suffice it to say, I didn’t hang out much at the hostel. I was beat beyond belief, but couldn’t really sleep. I took a nice crap and shower before heading out to a bar with my Norwegian bunkmate.
      We hit a trendy bar filled with young Londoners who were consumed in some boring-ass soccer game or rather, football match. He left after a pint, but I stuck around for another as there was a gaggle of young ladies about. They showed no interest in me whatsoever. No matter, their asses will only grow exponentially which tends to happen to English women. I split after the second pint and headed back to the hostel for some sleep. I was so out of it that the bells of St. Paul’s cathedral, which toll every fifteen minutes, couldn’t stir me from my slumber.
      The first full day in London was spent in dreamland. I woke at about five in the afternoon quite hungry. The restaurant at the hostel was as far as I wanted to go in my state. The food was mediocre at best. Not worth the eight bucks American, but it did the job. After another shower I dressed and headed out in search of a pub. Found a place around the corner from the hostel. Nice place and situated on the corner of the street at the end of a building which curves around like a crescent. The pub was bustling with men in suits. The only female in the joint was the barmaid. Beautiful Irish gal named Kelly or Kellie. I believe she was happy to talk to someone who wasn’t wearing a white- collared shirt and nice pants. We chatted all evening, that is, when she wasn’t pouring pints for the businessmen. We talked about travel and work and all the other things commoners tend to talk about. She is leaving for Ireland for “holiday” in a few days. She was born in Ireland, but now works in London and she is just taking a small vacation from bartending. I decided there and then to leave for Paris in the morning. London is just too expensive and the dollar isn’t worth crap. I’ll be sure to stop back by on my return to London for the trip home. I would very much like to see Kelly one last time before heading back to California.
      I woke early and headed to the bus depot. I opted for the bus as the price for a one-way ticket to Paris via the train is $160. The bus ticket was only $49 including the ferry trip across the channel. It was a nine hour bus and ferry ride, but it was great seeing the English and French countryside. What really sucked was sitting next to a very stinky Pakistani guy for the whole bus ride. A chick with a backpack had boarded after me and I had hoped she would sit next to me, but she chose a seat on the opposite side and this smelly fellow took the seat next to me. Just my luck.




Thursday, March 22, 2012

First Green Tortoise Hostel Adventure

     My first night at the hostel was quite enjoyable.  I hung-out in the smoking parlor most of the night as it was livelier than the common area where most of the people sat and read or watched the television.  I met quite a few people most of whom were European.  I enjoyed their accents and at that moment I knew that I wanted to travel abroad.  The females were breathtaking and I enjoyed watching them roll their own cigarettes.  Most of these Europeans were traveling for months at a time and I wondered how one could do that.  I tried to gather as much information about the details of their trips and the process by which they manage to travel for so long.  I decided that maybe I too could do the same one day.     I went to bed quite late that night.  I awoke at one point as the room was uncomfortably hot and humid.  I looked around the room and saw that there were two females sleeping in the bunk across from mine clad only in their panties.  Both were lying on their stomachs and the sight of their bare backs and firm butts gave me a nice boner.  I wanted to jerk it right then and there, but I caught sight of something that made me go limp.  I looked around to make sure no one was watching me as I contemplated performing this sinful deed when a pasty white ass caught my attention.  In the bunk perpendicular from mine lay a naked male, but only his ass poked-out from the sheet that covered the rest of his body.  The moonlight seemed to reflect its brightness for only me to see.  He was an Irish fellow who I met on the bus and is ass was the only thing I pictured as I fell asleep.
     I awoke late that morning and after a lukewarm shower I went to the kitchen for a cup of complimentary coffee and then took a seat on the balcony for a smoke.  All of my bunkmates had already gone somewhere by the time I had awaken and I hadn’t seen anyone I met in the smoking parlor the night before, so I sat by myself and wondered what I was going to do with the rest of the day.  I knew I needed something greasy for this hang-over so I hit the street in search of food.  I found a diner down the road and had a cheap, but wonderful breakfast/lunch.  I took a walk after my meal to get a feel of the city.  The Washington Mutual Tower stood before me and I quickly took a liking to it.  It is nicknamed “The Spark Plug,” but I have no idea why.  It doesn’t look like that at all.  I strolled along and found the people to be very nice.  I felt comfortable in Seattle.  It is a very eco-friendly and artsy place.  I came upon the Rainier Tower which has a huge inverted pyramid as its base.  It stretched skyward somehow.  I didn’t like this building as it looked like a structure straight out of Brave New World.
     I also noticed the coffee shops.  So many coffee shops and stands everywhere.  I got my first ever Starbucks coffee and it was good.  I headed back to the hostel with my coffee where I took a seat on the balcony and had another smoke.  I met some newcomers and we chatted a bit before deciding on having a buffet dinner at the Indian restaurant across the street.  I had never eaten Indian food as I never really wanted to, but it was actually quite good.  It was only five bucks and all-you-could-eat.  I was very happy and grateful to have had that experience.  After dinner we headed back to the hostel where the staff had a sign-up sheet for a pub and art walk scheduled for later that evening.  Only ten bucks and that would get one into the museums and galleries along the walk.  I was up for that, especially since we would be stopping at the pubs as well.  When it was time to go, there were about twenty people ready for some booze and art.
     Our first stop was a pub near the Seattle Art Museum or SAM where we shared some pitchers of beer.  By the time we made it to SAM I was quite buzzed.  The only work of art that I remember was Sea Change by Jackson Pollock.  I remember standing before it for quite some time.  We weren’t there for very long as everyone just wanted to go to another bar.  We made our way down the street and found a cool bar and ordered a few more pitchers.  Somehow I met a French gal that was a part of the group.  We started to talk about literature and that grew into a romance that I had never anticipated.  Sophie was her name and she had been studying literature in Iowa of all places and teaching French at the university as well.  She was now traveling the U.S. for the summer.  I love literature and it was my best subject in high school so we had quite a bit to talk about.  I was just talking out of my ass when she asked me about Hemingway, her favorite author.  I was buzzed and I said he was over-rated, but that seemed to attract her to me even more.  I was unemployed and only good for manual labor with no real passion for anything, but she seemed to have seen something in me or she was just drunk.
     We hung-out in the smoking parlor at the hostel after the pub slash art walk.  She set my heart and mind afire.  We talked about art and literature and travel and our dreams.  I felt that I could be more than just blue-collar.  I could attend college and set my sights higher than I ever thought I could.  We ended up making out with a little dry humping in between and then we held one another until the sun came up.  While people were waking up and getting ready for a new day, we kissed goodnight and went to our respective rooms for some much needed sleep.  Both of us slept until mid-afternoon and then met up again for lunch/dinner.  I was quite taken with her and I was really happy for the first time in a long time.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hippy Bus, Cow Creek and the Green Tortoise Hostel

     I awoke still shivering as the bus pulled into the woods.  The tour company owns some land near a creek where fellow adventurers could come and relax and enjoy the great outdoors.  We stopped here for a couple of hours for a much needed breakfast.  It was of course the typical vegetarian, hippy type fare: blueberry pancakes, fruit salad and granola.  It was very communal where folks were encouraged to get involved in the preparation and serving and the clean-up of the whole affair.  It was quite fun, but also a little annoying as mostly everyone was vegetarian and/or a hippy.  I have nothing against Vegans or hippies really, but they do tend to be a bit arrogant about their lifestyle and sometimes preachy; similar to religious groups or cults.  I believe I was just being a tad pissy as I hadn’t slept much and a hearty breakfast was what I really wanted.  I mean c’mon, meat is good!  Granola is no substitute nor is tofu bacon.      After breakfast some of us headed down to the creek where we could strip and take a dip in the frigid water.  I wasn’t sure at first as I had never skinny-dipped with strangers looking on.  I felt scummy from being on that bus, so I stripped and jumped in.  It was freezing and I was relieved that none of the females were able to see what was left of my manhood as it had retreated into my body somehow in search of warmth.  It felt wonderful washing away all the hippy grime though.  Afterwards I went into the sauna on the bank of the creek where several more nude travelers sat absorbing the heat.  It was very thrilling.  I couldn’t help looking at the females like a child eyeing candied apples at the fair.  I struggled not to give away my excitement as my manhood decided to make an appearance with utmost vigor.
     I finished my sauna session and dressed and went up to the campground completely renewed.  I took a seat at the blazing fire pit with a cup of tea.  A joint was being passed around and I partook as I am not averse to its soothing affects.  Everyone chatted away about their lives and the circumstances that brought them to the woods of Oregon.  I wasn’t sure if anyone felt as I had.  I felt lost and out of place.  Everyone else seemed to have a good sense of who they were and their purpose in life.  I suppose that is why I travel when I can as I am still searching for those answers.  We boarded the bus and headed north to Seattle.  I had no clue as to what was next, but I did know that I wanted to take this trip again.
     The last leg of the drive was fun, although I still had a little anxiety as this would be my first time staying in a hostel and really my first time in a new city all alone.  We played cards and chatted as the bus rolled into the city.  It was late afternoon when the bus dropped us off at the hostel.  A few of us scampered up to the second floor where we checked-in and got our room assignments.  I opted for the six-bunk, co-ed dorm as I have no problem with female bunkmates.  I found my room which was empty of anyone, but obviously there were signs that people were residing there.  I threw my pack on an empty bottom bunk and then checked it for comfort.  I then left the room to take a look around to get my bearings.  The hallway was hot and humid.  The bathrooms I found to be somewhat clean.  I made my way to the common area where there were several people sitting around tables and booths reading or talking or looking over maps and guidebooks.  There was a television broadcasting the local news and a few people were making dinner in the communal kitchen.  I took a quick inventory of it and found it quite cluttered with everything one would need to make a meal.
     The windows of the kitchen looked out onto a narrow balcony about ten yards long where some folks sat as they drank beer and smoked.  The view was not particularly great.  It was of a small parking lot with a partial view of 2nd street.  Cattycorner from the kitchen and balcony was the smoking parlor.  There was a beat-up leather couch, a coffee table and another small table with five or six chairs.  A ventilator above a pad-locked fridge hummed quietly as it filtered out the cigarette smoke.  It did nothing to eliminate the odor of tar and nicotine, but it was a cozy place where the outcast smoker could enjoy his or her habit.
     After my exploration of the hostel I headed out in search of food.  I just grabbed some fast food and wolfed it down.  I then headed to the liquor store and bought a six pack of beer.  It was quite convenient as it was only about twenty feet from the hostel.  I went back to my room, got some fresh clothes and toiletries and headed for the showers.  As I walked down the corridor a very cute and wet blonde girl stepped out from one of the bathrooms with only a towel wrapped around her.  I watched her as she made her way down the hall and into her room.  I decided that I was going to like hosteling.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

First Trip on the Green Tortoise

     My first experience was many moons ago, well before I met Ophelia in Seattle.  A hippy friend of mine related a trip he took to Seattle and of the hostel he took shelter in.  I had never heard of hosteling and it all sounded so exciting to me.  I was unemployed at the time and the thought of pounding the pavement in search of a meaningless job was not my idea of fun.  I had some money saved up so I forgot about looking for a shitty job and decided to take the same trip my friend had taken.  There was a travel company that had some buses and a couple of hostels that offered folks cheap adventures and lodgings.  It was run by some old hippies and as it happened, they had a route from Orange County to Seattle.  I booked passage on this trip and departed one Sunday afternoon on a converted ‘70’s era school bus.  I really had no idea on what to expect and a part of me struggled with thoughts of whether or not I was doing the right thing.  I was quite nervous and unsure.      Many of the passengers were a new generation of hippies sprinkled with an assorted lot of Europeans.  Hippies are cool, but I found that I can only take them in small doses.  I really felt out of place, but I settled in for the two day ride to the Emerald city.  The bus stopped in L.A. and Santa Monica at a couple of hostels to pick-up more travelers, a few of whom were very attractive European gals.  At that point I realized that I was going to enjoy this communal trip.  The bus continued north and here and there it would stop to pick-up more people until we were packed-in like sardines.  As night came, we all jockeyed for a place to sleep.  The rear of the bus was actually one large bed that twenty or so people could lay out somewhat comfortably.  The tables and seats on each side and center of the bus converted into beds and the luggage racks served as bunks as well.  I found a spot on the large bed in the rear and it was quite comfortable despite being sandwiched between complete strangers and the hum of the tires on pavement eventually soothed me to sleep.
     We arrived in San Francisco early the next morning at one of the hostels owned by this adventure company.  We had the opportunity to use the showers at the hostel for two bucks, but I did not take advantage of it as I was clean, but some of the other passengers sure as hell needed one.  It was my first time in a hostel and I was a bit nervous about it.  There were so many hippies there and I felt completely out of place.  One could smell the stoneage everywhere and as much as I wanted to spark-up, I decided instead to wander the streets of San Francisco with a group from the bus.  We had all day as the bus wouldn’t depart until eight that evening.  I was with a group that consisted of three Americans and a gal from Great Britain.  We strolled along the streets just going where our feet would take us.  I felt free, but a part of me still felt as if I were doing something irresponsible.  My mind was so preoccupied with thoughts of what I should be doing (looking for work) that it made it very difficult to concentrate on all the wonderful sights of the city.  I promised myself that as soon as I returned home I would immediately find a job; any job just so I could placate that little fucker in my head and then I could enjoy this little freedom.
     That promise had certainly helped in the matter and I was able to open myself up to the beauty of the city as well as to my fellow travelers.  Almost immediately the sense of culture shock came over me.  It was hard to believe as I am from the same state, but the people were very different from folks back home.  Everyone was friendly and helpful and they would take the time to give us directions to the various sites.  People back home would never even make eye contact as you passed them on the street.  The folks of San Francisco were definitely more affable than those from Orange and L.A. counties.
     We got back to the bus around eight that evening and all the beds were already set up.  I hurried to get one of the beds underneath one of the tables at the center of the bus.  It was like a little cave with a small curtain that could be drawn for privacy.  These were reserved for couples only and the bus driver reminded me of that, but at that moment the English gal stepped aboard and I motioned to her that I had this sought after spot.  To my surprise she was fine with sharing this cozy cubby with me.  My intentions were not at all sexual as she was a bit plump and homely and I would have needed at least five shots of something potent to find her somewhat attractive.  I just didn’t want to sleep in the rear with mostly guys surrounding me.
     I didn’t sleep well at all actually.  At first it was my thoughts that kept me up.  My heart raced as I pondered the girl’s thoughts and motives.  I wondered if she expected me to make a move and I lay there contemplating whether or not to as it had been a long time since I had any sexual encounter with a gal and now there was one lying next to me.  Thoughts of sex soon dissipated as the temperature dropped.  The horse blanket lined Levi jacket that I had brought was my only protection from the cold.  I curled up as best I could in this tight quarter, shivering away most of the night.  She was zipped-up completely in her sleeping bag like a cocoon and I wanted to cuddle just for warmth.  I managed to sleep some until we arrived somewhere in the woods of Oregon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Prelude to First Hostel Experience

     The debut of this blog may have been premature.  I realize that it is going to be difficult to fill blog posts with interesting accounts of our progress toward our goal of initiating the hostel environment experiment since everything has been done.  All has either been sold, given away or stored.  The condo is spic and span.  The much needed credit cards for the trip have been paid so they can be utilized again.  Our packs are half-packed and ready for the rest of the necessities we will need on the trip.  And our airline tickets have been purchased which is a miracle; a Christmas gift from Ophelia’s parents.  Now we are just waiting until Ophelia is laid-off and the auction of the condo takes place which should occur around the same time.  We must also wait for the buyer to offer the incentive check which will help in our endeavor.  Cash for keys is what they call it and I hope it comes through before our departure date arrives.      The tickets that Ophelia’s parents bought us are open-ended so we can return whenever we like, but we must leave on the date and time specified and I fear that we may be cutting it close.  Regardless of that, I am still grateful for their generosity.  I have a suspicion that it is just their attempt at facilitating the dissolution of Ophelia and I’s engagement, but I am going to be naïve and believe they did it out of the kindness of their hearts.  I’d rather not be cynical or negative at a time when things are finally going our way.  I don’t want to jinx it by thinking or feeling pessimistically.  It’s a new year and I want to wash away all the negativity from my soul and replenish it with only thoughts and feelings of optimism.  I know my new found philosophy will be tested on the morning of the auction, but I will remain steadfast.  I may waver a bit when the notice to surrender and vacate the property arrives as it will be final confirmation that we have truly lost our home, but my resolution to be nothing but positive will prevail.
Now I will relate my first journey and hostel experience.  If at the end of this tale I find that we are still awaiting departure, I will add journal entries from my past travels in the hope that you remain a follower of my blog.  Thank you for your loyalty and patience.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Some Background on Tuttle

     The condo and garage are looking more and more bare as we have sold off quite a bit of our stuff.  The more sentimental and personal things have been boxed for storage with friends and the things that we cannot sell will be given to charity.  It is Christmas after all.  Speaking of Christmas, Ophelia has left for the week to spend the holidays with her family in Montana and as soon as I am done sorting out a few things here, I will be off to a friend’s house.  I couldn’t very well spend an entire week with Ophelia’s parents.  They dislike me quite a bit and my voting for Obama and gay marriage has certainly increased their hatred of me.  Speaking of the gay issue…let me make it clear on how I feel about it as a staunch heterosexual. .  I can care less about a persons’ sexual orientation.  It’s none of my business and although I voted for it, that measure never should have been on the ballot in the first place.  That was unconstitutional in of itself.  Gays have the same rights as everyone else and when we initiate a measure that could deny folks of their inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and we allow it to be put to the vote we become un-American and traitors to the Republic in the process.  The pursuit of happiness is one of the fundamental ideals that America was founded on and we cannot allow it to be infringed upon by those with fears and prejudices.  Yes I have heard all the propaganda on the matter: it goes against the laws of nature, God considers it a sin, gays raising a child together would invariably make that kid gay.  All bullshit!  It does not go against the laws of nature.  It is the norm actually; every creature on this planet, whether mammal, reptile, amphibian or bird has practiced “homosexuality” at one time or another.  Even many species of flora are known to do so as well.  As for God declaring it a sin, well I say that’s a load of crap too.  God never declared that, but we have been taught to believe so from the teachings in the Bible.  God did not author the Bible.  Men who had their own fears, hatreds and prejudices wrote it.  The Bible is tainted by the words and ideas of ignorant men and it cannot be used to deny folks of their rights.  Freedom of religion does not trump one’s right to life and happiness and vice versa.  God loves us all and only looks at what is in our hearts.  He wants us to take care of one another.  He wants us to be happy with ourselves, our lives and enjoy all he has given us.  That brings joy to Him.  And we all know that gayness is not an infectious disease that can be transmitted to others.  You are either born gay or straight or bisexual or whatever.  Environment has nothing to do with it.  I believe that those who have a problem with gay folks are those that are uncomfortable with their own sexuality.  They tend to be gay and hate themselves for it and thus lash out at those who remind them of who they truly are.  I say get over it and live and let live.  Furthermore, denying folks from marrying the one they love just because you don’t know how to explain homosexuality to your kids is just ridiculous.  If you can’t talk to your kids about this stuff then maybe you’re a crappy parent and should be sterilized.  Anyway, that’s my point of view on the subject and Ophelia’s parents do not like it one bit.  I can care less of their opinion of me and I am not going to waste my time listening to bigots.  Life is too short to entertain the sanctimonious ramblings of the ignorant and intolerant.      My family is no different.  After my mother passed away, my relationship with her side of the family became non-existent.  I am an outcast as I am a gringo who looks more Jewish than Mexican and my Spanish is atrocious, at least they believe it is.  Plus my conversion to Buddhism from Catholicism really shook things up with the family.  My mom was a devout Catholic and I was raised as such and I was always forced to go to church every Sunday.  My dad had no religious affiliations even though he was of Jewish descent.  I never knew what he really believed as he never spoke of God or anything spiritual for that matter.  He just hid himself in books and booze.  My guess is that he had lost his faith sometime during the war.  He must have done or seen something on the battlefield to cause him to question God’s plan.  Alcohol was his only means of coping with it and it finally took his life in my first year of high school.
     I tend to celebrate Christmas anyway because I do believe in goodwill and hope and kindness and all the other good things that the season brings out in folks.  I have long since abandoned Buddhism as I no longer wanted to be affiliated with any religion.  There are many tenets of the various faiths that I agree with, but I just don’t want to attach myself to any religious organization that more often than not, discriminates against those who do not share in their respective views.  Organized religions cannot be trusted.  They tend to warp God into an entity that suits their beliefs, fears and prejudices.  These alliances have been the cause of most of the conflicts in the history of mankind.  The true meaning of God has been lost on them as each religion believes that their way of worship is the one and only way in which to honor Him.  I don’t need a religion to tell me how or when to worship.  That is between the Almighty and me.  God, Allah, Yahweh, Jehovah, the Holy Spirit or whatever name you wish to call Him or Her is one thing only and that is Love.  God is Love, period!