San Diego

It’s cold and dark, all except that bonfire going on about 500 yards away from us. We were sitting on the sand in silence even though there were 7 of us total, 4 Irish and 3 Americans. It was the Irish’s first time to California and we wanted to make it as fun as possible for them. We hadn’t reached our goal yet with the first night being epically mediocre pre-gaming at my friends house then heading to the beach because we had nothing else to do. The Irish weren’t 21 yet and their “Europe age card” didn’t work at a club. We were sitting on the side lines of what looked like an epic party on the beach, all thinking the same thing but no one wanted to be the first to move for fear of what that would mean.

“Fuck it.” I heard come out of my mouth before I could even realize what was happening. I don’t know what came over me, I just felt a pull.

“Let’s go.” I stood up and started walking to the fire like it was calling my name. One by one everyone got up and started to slowly follow me to the bon fire. There are a lot of people there, I thought to myself as we got closer to the party. No one is going to really notice 6 extra guys and a girl. I think I knew I was totally bullshitting myself just to muster up some courage. Who just walks in on someone else’s bon fire while they are still there?

I remember the moment the air and sand grew warmer. With my heart beat raging in my ear, pumping the adrenaline throughout my body we walked up to the party and just acted as if we belonged there. At first we all kind of stood on the outskirts of everyone there until one of the Irish started talking to some guy standing next to us.

Next thing I knew we were laughing and drinking some guys beer hanging by the fire. The rest of the night we were part of the crew, laughing, wrestling, and drinking with strangers on some beach in PB. I stepped away from the shenanigans to kneel by the fire at one point for some quiet reflection. I couldn’t believe it, I actually got all of us into this bonfire, and I don’t even know how I did it. I just…went with it. As I was roasting my hands by the fire patting myself on the back I saw a young guy come up beside me and throw in an empty cardboard bud light box into the fire. I looked at him with a smile hoping to God he wouldn’t ask me who I was and ask me to leave. I was moments away from my gig being up when he returned the smile and said “Hey thanks for letting us join your bon fire.” then walked away back to a group of people hanging to one side of the fire.

“Oh yea, of course…” what the…

The Other

The snowcap mountains were breathtaking as I drove to the small mountain town. I could feel with every turn of the road the weight I have been caring lift off my shoulders. It was magical, all the worry and stress left my mind and I could breath easy up here in the mountains. When I reached my destination, I checked into my room at the lodge with no issues. It wasn’t “tourist season” so the place seemed empty and quiet. As I passed the lobby there was a huge rock fireplace with what looked like 2 big comfy chairs in front of it. I have to go sit there tonight I thought to myself. As I walked into my newly cleaned room I could see the mountain out my window, my queen size bed all to myself, and a desk with a lamp that would be my office for the next few days. I was looking forward to  getting some work done and my book finished without distractions. I’ve been waiting for this work vacation for sometime now, I’ve dreamed of how it would feel being in the mountains by myself to work and rest, and recover. Funny, when I got here I had already started to miss my son and husband, but I was also excited to get some much needed me time in.

I went to dinner in the lodges restaurant. It was a cozy place but nothing too fancy which I preferred. I had a healthy dinner with a glass of red wine to wash it down, the house noir. It wasn’t my Meiomi but it was smooth enough. Knowing I had a long night of writing ahead I ordered a vanilla latte for dessert to help keep me awake. After a few sips while looking out at the horizon I remembered the big comfy chairs by the fire. Hoping they weren’t taken I hopped up telling my waiter to charge my room for the meal and headed to the lobby area.

I was so relieved when I saw that one of the chairs was still open, the other taken up by a small elderly woman with shoulder length white hair enjoying what looked like tea with her feet up on the ottoman toward the fire. Not wanting to bother her but also didn’t want to steal someones seat, I went up and asked if that seat was taken. her quick reply was “yes… by you!” with a smile. I jumped right into the chair with my coffee in both hands hugging my heart and made myself at home. I sat slightly slouched with my right foot crossed over my left on top of the ottoman in front of me after taking off my shoes, revealing my bow tie socks. I closed my eyes and reveled in the feeling of the warm fire, in the mountains, by myself, drinking a warm cup of coffee, on a vacation just for me. Deep breath in the nose, deep breath out the mouth.

“Tumeric.”

The word took me out of my current trance and found myself looking over at the woman beside  me.

“Pardon”? I asked.

“Tumeric. It’ll help save your life. You should have more tumeric. I put some in my tea once a day. Better for you than that sugar you’re drinking.”

Crazy old lady I thought to myself, a little spite at her for breaking my peaceful moment to lecture me about my sugar intake. How did she know I had a slight addiction?

“Okay… great! Thanks for the tip.” I said with a smile and went back to closing my eyes right before she started to speak again.

“on a solo holiday”? She asked.

“why, yes. How did you know?”

“I can see it in your face, I took a similar holiday myself.’ She said with a smile. “mine was about 30 years ago though haha. I lot has happened since that trip.”

She seemed like she wanted to talk but I was in no mood. I made this trip to be by myself, not to talk to some woman about the years gone by. I tried to act closed off and close my eyes once more but she didn’t seem to take the hint, or she didn’t care. She kept prodding.

“you know, solo trips are good for you if used as a tool and not an escape. If you use it as an escape you’ll be trying to escape you’re whole life. The trick is to make your life the way you feel right now on this trip. Not easily done I’ll admit, but do able. Take your family for example, if you all work together and clearly communicate what each of you need you won’t feel trapped and will be able to create a schedule that works for everyone… that is, if you felt trapped of course.” As she spoke she was staring at me with this sly smirk as if she knew something I didn’t. I didn’t understand it, she was hitting on points that I had been feeling but without knowing me at all. I was a little creeped out when she told me to keep a strong hold on who I am and my boundaries for myself and my family when things started happening but also a little intrigued? I couldn’t help but lean in closer and talk to her more as time went on. How could this old woman I just sat next to know more about me than I did?

“I know I’m being officious, and don’t mean to interrupt your holiday, I just want to make sure you do it right with no regrets, you know”? She replied after she finished speaking on how younger generations need to pay more attention to what’s going on in the world and how I need to use my voice for change, real change.

“No actually I don’t know. How is it you know so much about me? To be honest lady, you’re kind of freaking me out.”

“Oh you’re a smart girl, I’m sure you’ll figure it out. And don’t stress, there’s plenty of time. When you start to enjoy the present moment you’re in and enjoy the journey, you’ll realize you have all the time in the world to figure things out and make them work. Which reminds me, can you please relax about the whole “housewife” thing. You know you’re made for more and you WILL be and do more. But like I said before, enjoy the journey and the moment. Your little ones won’t be little forever. They will grow up and you will wish you had more time with them. You will get everything done you need to, I just pray you also enjoy more of the little moments in between the big ones.”

I leaned back into my chair as her last lecture point hit a soft spot. I stared into the fire for a moment to get my grip when I realized I was sitting the exact same way the elderly woman was sitting. Same right foot over the left, same slouch, same shoeless feet, same position of her mug at the center of her chest. I closed my eyes to let everything that was happening sink in. The things this lady was telling me were issues I had been chewing around inside myself. The way she looked was familiar to me but I couldn’t put my finger on it, and how we both sit the exact same way. I had this growing feeling in the pit of my stomach but didn’t want to call it by name because then it would be real and I would be insane.

“What did you say your name was again”? I said out loud after a few moments. I opened my eyes and looked her way to find no one sitting in the other chair next to me. I looked around to find a gentleman sitting at a table not too far from me.

“Excuse me sir, did you see where the older lady sitting next to me went”?

“I haven’t seen anyone here all night beside me and you miss.”

I sat back in my chair with a sinking feeling in my chest. I felt the warmth from the fire on my feet and face as I looked at my half drank vanilla latte before setting it on the table next to me. Still feeling the woman’s presence and a swelling in my heart I closed my eyes as I took a deep breath in the nose, and exhaled out my mouth.

The Squirrel’s Rope

A squirrel sees a rope out away from her home tree. She wanders over to it and wonders where it came from. Has it always been here and I’m just realizing? She thinks and finds herself dreaming of what the lookout would be from the top. She’s seen the top of her tree and knows the beauty. She could only imagine what the sight would be from the top of the rope that seems to reach the heavens. So, she starts to climb

After a few pulls she glances down and sees she’s hasn’t made much progress. She gets frustrated but stays determined and climbs some more.

When out of breath she pauses to glance around. Though the floor seems farther she still realizes how much further she has to go. Still she climbs.

At one point she feels as if she cannot go on. Her arms ache, she’s out of breath, her legs are trembling and her mind is beginning to play tricks on her. She holds herself on the rope and becomes melancholy. All her doubts come flooding in.        

    “You’ll never make it”

“Quit before you make a fool of yourself.”

            ” why can’t you be just like everyone else and be okay with where you are.” 

She cries… balls big tears from her eyes. She finds anger in the rope. At herself. For making the trip in the first place.

She finds herself dozing off on the rope, having all the emotion and energy drain out of her from the breakdown. She ties herself around the rope with her tail to hold her and falls fast asleep.

She wakes to the sun rising. It looks so beautiful and thinks “awe, if only I take a few more pulls toward the top she could see the whole thing.

Her first pull hurt as her arms were sore from all the climbing. It burned and her arms shook as she pulled herself 2, 3 more climbs up to see the full sun rise. When she opened her eyes after the third excruciating pull her eyes were overcome with so many different colors, some she has never seen before. She saw purple mountains, a deep blue ocean, green forest, and rays of sunshine coming through the clouds. That’s not all though. She looked down to see so many people looking up at her cheering and clapping. They were taking her picture and crying out asking “how did she do It?”

It was in that moment she realized she did it. She made the climb, and accomplished her goal. Looking back down the rope from the top she realized it was the climb that got her there. The push, the pull, the strength gained through the grind and focus and getting her to where she was now. At the top she was so thankful for the view. Even more so though she was grateful of the climb, for it made her into who she needed to be to reach the top.

xx

 

*Artwork by: DeviantArt*