Smells Like Summer

Yesterday morning I awoke to raindrops and grey sky. Memorial Day weekend — it didn’t seem so.

Around 9:00pm I drove.  I ended up near the water, somewhere in Ballard.  The setting sun had lured me.

I parked my car, first, and then my behind, in the sand.  I adjusted the bill of my hat, kicked off my slippahs, hugged my knees tight to my chest, and stared.

Before long, I was studying.

Shadows draped themselves across far-away mountains, more aggressively with each passing minute.  An endless soft blue was blended perfectly into a bold streak of orange and melting into the horizon.  The water, like stained glass, glistened with impressions of yellow, disturbed only by the ripples of skipping rocks; a movement which could be traced to the distant silhouette of a man. Back on shore, flames erupted from pits and smoke dissipated into the surrounding air.

I shut my eyes and inhaled a breath of sooty bonfire, feeling that simultaneously, a giant smirk had crept across the lower half of my face.

I felt good. Really good.

A bit of nostalgia, I suppose; for a time when Summer was not merely a season, but a way of life.  This scene was home.

I relished in it for a minute or two before opening my eyes and hoisting myself from the ground.

A moment of familiarity was just enough.

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For Mom, on Mother’s Day.

A few years back, my mother told me a story about one of the first dates she went on with dad.  She was a college freshman at the University of Houston, and they had planned to meet at the intramural fields early one morning.  Mom awoke hungry, and consulted her mini-fridge, only to find the options slim.  In an effort to quickly satisfy her need for sustenance, she reached for a cold beer.  I’ve never asked this of my father, but can only imagine him to be startled (or perhaps intrigued) upon sighting this raven-haired beauty, strutting toward him, early morning brew in hand, as if it was perfectly standard behavior.

I’ve come to refer to this story as the time mom had a beer for breakfastI love it so much, because it says nothing and everything about her, all at the same time.

My mother is sassy and stubborn – a lethal combination if you ask me.  A known hell-raiser, who puts her efforts to good use, has something to say about everything, and never falls short of proving a point. Insanely intelligent; “Em’s mom” was known among childhood friends as the human encyclopedia.  To this day, she’s the only person I know who finds pleasure in dissecting electronics, simply for the sake of understanding the reassembly process. To deem her independent would be an understatement of the highest degree.  Aside from tending to the family automobiles; she’s always operated under the “do it myself” motto.  A master of mending wounds, both of physical and emotional nature; she’s prevented many an emergency room visit. She’s everyone’s rock, executing daily with grace under pressure, detouring the anxious from fear and worry. Rarely on-time for anything, she’ll always make time for those she loves. Her seemingly serious exterior (or RBF) does not overshadow her giant, genuine heart.  She lives without regret, and hasn’t for a moment, refrained from setting goals and chasing dreams (not even after thirty years of managing the chaos that accompanies raising four children).

Often, people tell me I remind them of her.  When they do, I like to to picture her on that day in ninety-seventy-something; a young version of the awe-inspiring bad-ass I now call Mom.  Truth be told, there’s no individual I’d rather exemplify.

To the most incredible woman I know – I love you, Mom.  Happy Mother’s Day.

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The Difference A Year Makes II

Two-thousand-fifteen.

It was a warm, sticky night in Napili.  I gazed out from the lanai, nervously running my fingers through a humidity-induced afro, as I contemplated the prospect of moving to Seattle.  Much of the concept scared me: departing a job I’d accepted a mere eighteen months prior, bidding aloha to friends I’ve come to consider family, and a place I’ve come to call home.  I babbled to my mother for quite some time through the phone before she piped in.  Although she understood my reservations, she left me with the handful of words needed to bring me to a decision:

“You’re kind of a risk taker.”

Four weeks later, I disembarked the plane at SeaTac to find my name scribbled on the back of a Cheerios box, and a familiar face peering out from behind it.  Randy and I proceeded to drag my five, hardly mobile, suitcases across the Skybridge.

Just like that — Seattle was home.

Shortly thereafter, I traded my bikini for hiking boots, and my beach tote for a Columbia backpack.  I mastered the art of riding public transportation (after a few mishaps landing me in less than desirable parts of town).  I gladly welcomed grey skies and relentless precipitation in place of cockroaches and centipedes.  I cultivated an interest in gluten free beers, and dining establishments that offered me anything other than salad (#luckywelivehawaii).  I shed my tanlines, along with a couple of dress sizes.  I grew to accept the fact that my trucker hats were not “cool” in the state of Washington, and that Lululemon tights did not suffice as cold weather gear.  I discerned that I had once again, found myself in good company.  I made a conscious effort to find the good in all things, and did so (most of the time).

I ask myself once again, what difference does a year make?

In my opinion, a heightened sense of adventure, a surer sense of self, a more thorough understanding of what makes the good people great, and how to go about surrounding myself with them.

I suppose, as it pertains to 2015, I’m a believer that “if it scares you, it might be a good idea to try” (Godin).

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Boys On The Bus

A few weeks back, my friend James proposed that I should start, talking to guys on the bus.  According to him, it’s the place to meet eligible bachelors.  As much as I valued the unsolicited dating advice, I wasn’t about to go searching for my future soulmate on the D-Line.

I remembered this and chuckled to myself during tonight’s commute, as I allowed my eyes to drift up and down the rows, studying the cast of characters.

If there is one thing that I’ve gathered, surrounding the collective group of “folks who ride the bus”, it is that they come in all shapes, sizes, ages, outfits (or lack thereof), scents, sounds, and of course, varying levels of sanity.  This statement was certainly alive and well among the Monday evening crew of passengers.

I stopped my gaze at the group of twenty-somethings seated directly across from me.  Although the six were fully clothed, unaccompanied by any noticeable odor, and kept to themselves; they caught my eye.

Why?

Because every single damn one of them was knee-deep in their cell phone, so much so, had I stripped down naked and started screaming racial slurs, they likely would have failed to notice.  (To be fair – this could very well occur on any given day aboard the D-Line).  

I grew sad as I realized the present moment was being lost right before my eyes, to a virtual reality contained within six inches of plastic.

Undeniably, we all seem to spend more time worrying about what’s happened, or what’s to come, that we fail to stop and actually live, anymore.

If this wasn’t Exhibit A — I can’t be certain what is.

The only logical solution, I concluded: to hold myself accountable; to be present.

In doing so, I’ve opted to reserve those thirty minutes each day spent aboard the shitshow that is the Metro Bus, where I’ll refrain from responding to text messages, placing phone calls, reviewing emails,  or logging into Facebook to discover that yet another college friend is pregnant, or engaged, or buying a house (no offense guys).

Instead, I’ll simply sit and stare, absorbing the crazy that is unfolding around me, enjoying it for every ounce that it’s worth, in believing that “real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present” (Camus).

 

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Road to Nowhere

12208642_10153756062496532_6528307965804642353_nThis weekend, after finishing what felt like a marathon of a month at work, I was determined to (make an attempt) at clearing my head of the stresses that accompany my daily hustle and bustle.  I’d been hearing all sorts of buzz about “meditation”, namely from my sister, who just began her new job at the Chopra Center.

Last night, I crawled into my bed and laid flat underneath the comforter, arms at my side, determined to give it a try.

With no professional instruction whatsoever, I closed my eyes and inhaled.  I attempted to think of nothing other than the rise and fall of my chest.  A second later, I was bombarded with the fear that I had forgotten to lock the front door of my apartment.  I silenced the worry.  Before long, I was creating a mental reminder to send an email to my client in the morning.  I brought it to a hault, but only for moment, as I caught myself generating a grocery list for the week.

Why was it so difficult to rid myself of every thought?

I retired to the fact that I wasn’t about to accomplish anything and drifted off to sleep.

About 11:00am this morning I walked to my car with the intention of visiting my favorite gluten free bakery for a bite.  For whatever reason, I opted to forgo the breakfast pastry and merge onto the five instead.

I wasn’t quite sure where I was headed.  Impulsively, I chose a route unfamiliar, and forged East.

I took a few sips of my coffee, as I pressed through the stop and go.  Slowly, traffic began to ease up.

As I entered into the Snoqualmie Pass, I found myself eyeballing the abundance of Evergreens lining the highway.  I enjoyed the occasional speck of yellow, and pockets of red.  I gazed loosely as the gusts of wind sent Fall leaves into a flurry.  In the distance, thick clouds were rolling through the mountains.

Before long, I wasn’t thinking about anything, other than that was directly in front of my face.

A downpour surfaced out of thin air.  All that could be seen through the wipers racing feverishly across my windshield were the drops of water bouncing off the asphalt, three feet in front of the hood of my car.  The sky was dark.  I gripped the steering wheel, focusing intently on the painted white lines along the road to guide me.

After some time, the pavement had dried, and the surroundings were once again visible. The sun began to peek through dark grey clouds.  A streak of blue sky, long forgotten, was resting on the horizon.  The sea of green had been replaced by stretches of brown and a scattering of windmills.

As the time passed, the canvas of sky became adorned with splashes of purple and puffs of milky white.

There was something so incredibly soothing about being alone on the road with no destination in mind.

I trekked on like this for a few good hours.

I was about 100 miles West of Spokane when the sun began to disappear.  I decided I’d had enough.

It suddenly occurred to me that my stomach was growling.  I took the nearest exit to who the hell knows where, and pulled into the parking lot of Dairy Queen. Although it was thirty-nine degrees outside, I selected a chocolate milkshake.  I hopped back into my little white Civic, cranked up the heat, and proceeded to follow the signs leading back to Seattle.

Tomorrow, I will return to a voicemailbox full of, “I need this yesterdays”.  I’ll spend the day making unhappy people happy again, and prevent the ones who are not angry from becoming it.

But, I’ll be ready for it.

I may suck at meditation; but I suppose, sometimes all you need is a little ride on the road to nowhere, and absolutely nothing, to get your mind right.

Greeting Cards from Grandma

I’m a fan of greeting cards.

I save them, and hang them on a string on the wall in my apartment.

I enjoy sending them, even more so than receiving them.

I suppose I inherited this facet of my personality from my Grandmother.

Tonight, I pulled the collection of cards down from the wall.  I sat on my living room floor and sifted through the sea of colorful paper.

I reached for one; the cover, deep green.  It featured three peanut cartoon characters with word bubbles over their heads.  The inscription inside: “Thought you might want some complimentary nuts to go with your birthday celebration!”  I laughed.

I shifted my gaze to the cursive scribbles at the bottom of the page.  My eyes welled as I began to read:

“I’m the biggest nut.  I’ve thought about you and the good times we’ve had together.  I treasure those memories.  You are special – I’m just slow.  Love you, Grandma”

I remember the day perfectly.  It was about two weeks past my twenty-fifth birthday.  The card was late.  That didn’t matter to me.  I was sitting in my office in Maui, after just hanging up the phone with a disgruntled mother-of-the-bride, when Simone walked in with the envelope.  The note made me laugh, first.  The smile grew as I remembered the summers in her backyard growing up, and the long conversations in her living room during my college years.  At the conclusion of sixty seconds, a tear had crept out of the corner of my eye, as yet again, she hadn’t failed to remind me how “amazing” and “special” I am.

A year and a half later, the card has the same effect.

I pressed onward through the pile, reliving the memories; recalling exactly where I was, and how I felt.

Finally, the carpet was visible again.  I’d seen them all.

That’s when it hit me.  I had received my last card from Grandma.

I thought about how I might experience an emptiness come every birthday, and every Christmas; or maybe even each time I passed the Hallmark aisle in Target.

Instead, I quickly realized that the reason I love greeting cards, is because they remind me of Grandma.  And I realized that instead of symbolizing what I’ve lost, they should allow me to appreciate all that I was given.

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People and Places: Part Two

About two and a half months ago I made a big decision. I chose to leave behind all that I had come to know and love on the beautiful island of Maui, for a blank canvas in a cold, rainy city.

Six weeks a Seattle resident, I continue to experience the occasional “OH SHIT” moment, where I ask myself, “what did I just do?”image

Until the minute I parted ways with that little rock in the middle of the Pacific, my mental, emotional and physical capacities were largely reserved for empathizing with brides, securing signed contracts, and creating event orders.

So much so, it was not until three weeks post bidding aloha, as I sat on the floor of my empty lower Queen Anne apartment, that I allowed myself to fully process the events of the preceding nineteen months.

A moment was all it took for me to burst into tears as I thought of the amazing friends I had left behind.

Each day, I was inspired by Simone’s zest for life, Cherene’s free spirit, Jaz’s work ethic, Trista’s ability to listen, Shelly’s giving heart; among many others folks and traits.

I learned and grew on countless levels during my brief time on Maui. And just when I had deemed myself comfortable, I uprooted, a wiser, stronger version of the girl who’d arrived in October of 2013.

Seattle makes the fifth city I’ve called home in six years time.

Over the course of these experiences, I’ve found the challenges and excitement that accompany constant change somehow soothe me. I quite enjoy uncovering new facets of my personality, being immersed in different cultures, utilizing foreign modes of transportation, acquiring a taste for varying delicacies, nurturing new relationships while being tasked with maintaining the existing ones, expanding my mind, and continually searching for ways to better myself as an individual.

As I close one chapter and embark upon the next, I remind myself to be grateful. Grateful to have loved, to have lived firsthand, and to forever keep the memories and friends close to my heart; no matter how far I may geographically stray.

I suppose someday, one place, or one person, may influence me to throw down the anchor and make “home” something more permanent. Until then, I quite enjoy writing the chapters, accumulating the characters and seeking inspiration from the storylines, in this novel that is my life.