Monday, October 21, 2013

The Next Crazy Venture

Today is Monday, sometimes my very favorite of days for its new beginnings and potential and possibility and sometimes my most dreaded of days for the long stretch and expanse of time between "here" and whatever I am looking forward to over "there."

Today is the last Monday my sister will live in the town we called home in the Midwest.  She is venturing out, making her own way, doing her own thing and daring to seek out something better.  I don't know much about the new life or the new job or the new people she is going to encounter.  But from someone who did the same thing less than a full year ago I would like to send her this message.  I would like to bestow a few words.  I would like to give her my own piece of well-wishing and goodbye.

When I left the Midwest, it had already turned cold, the air frozen and metallic and the ice and frost and gray air crept in everywhere, chilling to the bone and causing shoulders to hunch, Midwest bodies turn into themselves and constrict and clutch closer in to conserve whatever heat they can hold.  I had finished my last shift at my last job in that town and I went to get a cup of coffee.  And the line was long.  And I didn't mind.  I stood there, looking at all of the holiday mugs and porcelain reindeer sugar caddies.  I didn't check my phone.  I didn't read my book.  I just stood there, alone, in line.  And from seemingly nowhere, suddenly, I felt warmth and the kindest of pressure around my arms and torso and neck and heart.  It was like I was being hugged from every direction from many invisible people.  I felt physically and emotionally loved.  I felt encouraged and supported and just, so, right.  It was as if at that moment, there were people near and far away from me that were sending me good thoughts and love.  I smiled, to myself, and tried to hold onto that feeling, remember it, stow it away so that I could reach for it during those moments of questioning and loneliness and confusion that I knew were part of this great package deal of moving away on my own.

I am sending that love and encouragement and invisible embrace to my sister, every moment of every day this week until she and my mother and their little dogs crawl into their car early early on Friday morning.  I hope she leaves feeling that support, feeling that encouragement, feeling that incredible mark of love and significance that she so easily and eagerly gave and gives to everyone she meets.  She is a beautiful soul.

This quote I kept near to me as I was leaving and still pull it out from time to time when that invisible embrace is too distant of a memory to recall.  I give it here, to her, to recite and remember.  I know that I am not the only one hoping and wishing a great many good things for her on this adventure we call life and growing up and trying new things and places and people.  I am one of many.  We all love you and will miss your warmth and energy and company.

“What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” 
― Jack KerouacOn the Road

Be well, baby sister.  Don't forget to stop and be present in the place that held you for so long.  Remember to feel the love.  Stop and listen to the whispers of well-wishes.    Keep your phone in your pocket.  Look at the faces of the familiar and send them the love they are giving you.  Then release them.  Open yourself up and clear your heart for new faces.  Throw your arms wide to what is coming...


Wednesday, October 16, 2013


It is no surprise, as an avid reader, and a sometimes hopeful writer, that I have a few favorite words and phrases - words that I say over and over to myself, phrases that I'll say out loud, insert in posts and journal entries and pepper into conversations.  One of my favorites has been tumbling around inside my head for a few days now.  It is not connected to any particular thing or inserted into my thoughts from reading or talking with someone.  It seemed to have just appeared one day and I cannot let it go.


The world is full of opportunities for this word - both as a whole and in my very own little part of it.  There are so, so many different ways to think about this word and its definitions.  It can be both positive and negative, concrete and metaphoric, refer to nature as well as an aspect of our "civilized" world.

The first definition given is that it is an opening, a tear, or a rupture.  Sometimes I feel like emotional wounds, familial fights, personal attacks and even our own self-deprecating tendencies to criticize our own selves and efforts and hopes and dreams can cause such breaches.  They cut a small opening in your heart, stretch a tear in the fabric of the reality you thought you could count on or a rupture in the relationship that you once held so dear.  We are all connected, sometimes tightly, sometimes loosely, but we are all part of each other.  But, the things we do or say or are done or said to us, tears that fabric, opening up the weaving of that curtain held between us.

The second definition given is that of a violation, especially that of a contract or legal document.  When a contract is violated, when a written statement of intent or promise is breached, there are usually consequences - rarely positive and almost always costing us something.  And it is always personal, it is never only business.  When suffering is caused or in many cases, demanded, after the breach of a contract - it hurts a person.

The third definition is the breaking up or disruption of friendly relations; an estrangement.  We've all broken up with or been broken up with.  It's a terrible feeling.  But what is worse, is the breaking of those friendly relations.  What a silly term but one that is so close.  We are social creatures, we enjoy enjoying ourselves with others.  We pair off, join up, meet up, plan and agree to go and do and see and feel - together.  It is friendly.  It is familiar.  It is safe.  When that relationship, when that comfort, when that familiarity is breached, things look different.  Activities and television shows and your favorite food and bars and times of day and the color of the moon's light on your bedroom walls betray you.  They are no longer things you enjoy alone, but for a little while, will feel like things stolen from you.  They will feel unfriendly, they will only be reminders of the rupture and the tear.  And as for estrangement, the word itself is enough to cause a chill a shudder a tear a gasp an attack of anxiety.

The fourth definition is a leap of a whale from the water.  The illogical and incomprehensible ability to fly and leap and breach the weight of water by the monsters beneath.  They glide, hour after hour, day after day, seemingly without urgency, without fear, without hesitation.  And then, for no apparent reason, they breach, they jump, they surface and they play.  They do what we would if we were in their massive and watery place - because they can.  The water, the ocean, the massive black and blue sea cannot hold them beneath.

I do not know why this complex word has been stuck in my head for days.  I love it, and know that I will use it for something, sometime, soon.

Friday, October 4, 2013

You Dropped Something!

Before landing on Austin, Seattle was a contender.  I loved the cobbled streets, the massive market so full of colors and sounds and smells and people, the proximity to the ocean, the mist crawling over the juts of land cupping and curving the metallic gray water.  I loved the rain.  I loved the restaurants.  I love everything about it.  I had been twice, once with my mother, and once alone to see if that's where I wanted to live - and had I not been thinking about many other things, had I not been preoccupied with a breakup, I might have had enough room to have chosen that damper city, that older one, that one moving at a more steady and slow pace than this one, this one that I'm sitting in right now.  I tell people I flipped a coin.  And in many ways I did.  The weight that pulled it down towards tails was the warmth beckoning me from the depths of winter in the Indiana December, the proximity to my brother and his wife and his children and the frequency that my father passed through this southern state.  And it was my feeling of joy and "rightness" that I felt walking around on my solo trip here last August causing me to weep unexpected tears of joy knowing that I had found my next place, my next home.

But as I talk to people of all shapes and sizes and backgrounds and experiences and income levels here in this oasis of blue in a sea of red, I bristle when so many more than I would have thought bash my second choice city.  They say it's too expensive.  They say it's too wet.  They say it's too far too stuck too cold too quiet.

Seattle doesn't hold a tender place in my heart because of its market or its weather or its people or its restaurants or its history.  It holds me fast and will forever be one of my favorites because of a bum.

I was supposed to go there with him, my boyfriend, the man I had lived with for over a year and dated for two.  He was supposed to come with me to see if that's where we were going to move.  But he didn't save for it.  He didn't show any interest.  He didn't care.

So I went alone.

I felt like it was a preview of how we would live our lives if I stayed with him - him never having being making thinking saying feeling enough and me going ahead and doing it alone.  My heart broke on the plane and was only able to be held aloft in my chest with the thought that I would soon be seeing the rain-soaked and impossibly green and emerald city at the tip top corner of our country. I would be there for three days.  It was raining when I arrived, typically, and comfortingly.  It was the same Seattle I knew.  The same Seattle I loved.  The same Seattle that I came to introduce myself to, like a friend who was hoping for more, trying to make a great friendship into something bigger, something more meaningful, something more permanent.  I made no plans to look at apartments or jobs.  I just wanted to walk around the city by myself for a while. Airport to cab to hotel to shower to Queen Anne where I paid too much for a tulle skirt that made me proud of my hard work over the past year with my trainer but silly wearing it without any occasion.  But I decided to wear it anyway.  I planned to take myself out to a fancy dinner and eat escargot and drink red wine and do all the things that I liked and wanted to do.

But I was sad.  And for some reason I was scared walking around the city at dusk, a city I had been to before, and a city so much less threatening than London, where I lived alone and younger and more ignorant and unwise to the ways of the world.  I kept telling myself how silly I was being.  Keep your head down, you're almost to the restaurant.  And as I looked down at my feet, counting the steps and regretting the decision to wear that ridiculous skirt, I saw a dirty hand waving down near a pair of even dirtier army booted feet.  And I looked up and saw a homeless man, his eyes wide with concern and his head and face encircled by a long beard connecting to his wild hair giving him the appearance of a lion, a crowning, dusty and wiry mane.

 "Lady! Lady! Hey!" he said, waving his hands wildly at me.   I didn't fear him because of the number of people around but wished he hadn't chosen me to pester for change or to spread along the word of the apocalypse.

"Yes?" I answered hesitantly, hoping to keep walking without too much of an interaction.

"You dropped something!"

I had only brought my wallet and wondered if my hotel key had slipped out or my phone had fallen out of my jacket pocket and frantically looked around, circling, spinning in my skirt, the wind whipping my hair, my heart pounding, worried that what I might have dropped was important, would be stolen, would be lost.

"What? What did I drop?"

"Your smile."

I gave him my best grin, ear to ear and full of teeth and a twenty dollar bill.

I smiled wide for the rest of my walk to the restaurant, no longer looking at my feet but the people and the windows and the buildings.  I drank good wine, and ate great food, and talked to funny servers and bartenders.  I felt warm from within as I walked back to my hotel - no longer scared - no longer sad.  I kept smiling.

I will go back to Seattle.  I may even live there someday.  And because of that city I learned that a smile an attitude an outlook a perfect day is something that you pick up take on make up envision and project for yourself.  And we all drop our smiles from time to time.  Just don't forget to pick them back up