Monday, March 25, 2013

sea change

I seem to think of blog post titles in terms of song or album names.  This Beck album is my perfect title, my calling to sit at the computer and do this thing.

My girlfriend sails away tomorrow.  My first dear heart, first Missoula soul-sister, first how-could-we-find-ourselves in these wilds, so similar yet so far from we started.  I so remember when I first laid eyes on her.  Sitting at an outdoor table in front of the Hob Nob, skinny legs laid out long on the pavement, flip flops, jeans, long, straight blonde hair, just like all the girls I grew up with had.  If they weren't Asian.  Or Mexican.  Or black.  Bri was the California blonde model from my ethnic upbringing pie chart.  Smart and successful and fabulous, ready to take on all the adventures Montana had to offer.

We conquered a lot of those firsts together.  First venison steaks on a grill. First of many a Missoula pot luck.  First Kettlehouse growlers and Bob Marshall backpacking trips.  First Top Hat crazy dance parties, burger and beer nights at the Old Post.  First red wine, candlelight nights with girlfriends full of truths and breaking-it-downs, full of goodness and connection.   Cross country skiing (remember how ridiculously lame we were?).  Jerry Johnson and freaky Elkhorn and all the beauty and weirdness that makes this state so quirky, so magical. 

Singing loudly on the scruffy hardwood floor of my first apartment on Front Street.  Indigos and Fleetwood Mac and Counting Crows.  Bri helped me not be scared of my voice.  I closed my eyes and belted hard.  

There were shifts.  I was always a ways older.  Married first.  Had babes.  Shifts occured around those years. That palpable moment while backpacking at Goldbug Hot Springs.  I couldn't stop asking Joellen about being a mom, my theme so clear, my questions unwavering, focused.  The path set.  Bri was quiet on that trip.  Separated herself.  Had enough intuition and foresight to see the shift.  And, indeed, soon my adventures, my career, took a backseat.  Conversations about nursing and sleep schedules took the forefront.  We grew different lives.  Full of heart and the best of intentions, but different.

And then Bri found Rob.  And I couldn't have picked a better fellow for her.  And now they are living out their dreams, her dreams, and sailing around the world.  And it's so freaking cool.

Tonight when she came by for the final goodbye, I was sitting in my yard, soaking up the last few moments of Montana springshine.  I pulled her sweet, skinny little frame on to my lap, put my arm around her tiny waist.  I was flooded with love and memory and all the goodness that makes this life what it is.  The choices that lead us here.  The love that is history, that is firsts, that is true and real connection.

I am so, so very thrilled for her adventure.  Inspired.  Awe-struck.  My intrepid travel musings so humbled by this great wide open setting sail.  Proud of my little homegirl.

 Break it open, sister.  Go big or go home. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

a year ago

A year ago today, did you know tomorrow would be your last?  Was it whimsy after decades of dealing? Simple exhaustion?  Did the morning bring clarity?  Did you move calmly or was it a frenzy?  The research I planned to do on the subject just didn't pan out.  It's not fun to google, "suicide." 

The questions can sit in this abyss, this whiteness, this never never land.  We can hike the mountain together.  I'll continue to ask the clouds. 

Instead I'll focus on the you.  On your voice and heart and soft skin.  I'll focus on your genius and determination and artistry.  I'll focus on how you shaped the woman I would become.  Pushed my creativity forward, made me trust my talent, my passions, my words.  You turned the volume up on my life. 

I celebrate you, beautiful, beautiful friend.  I celebrate you. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

deep ground

Deep ground is quiet and focused.  Her feet are rooted fully, each step clear and deliberate.  Deep ground knows exactly what she has to do.  She is in the moment and wholly present.  She works hard and appreciates that time to think beyond herself, beyond her family.  She then turns back to them; snacks and dinner and bath and books.  Impromptu games of baseball hockey, twisty swing, monkey bars, hide and go seek.  Deep ground gravitates towards pockets of sunlight, holds still, looks up.  She busts Amos Lee and Indigo Girls Pandora, earthy and soulful with just a hint of road trip reminiscence.

Deep ground is not always here, so I welcome her with my whole self when she comes to visit.  Her husband is away again and she feels it's much easier to appreciate her time alone when her mind is clear and focused.  Deep ground doesn't plan the way her other selves do.  She isn't sneaking in a wine date with friends after bedtime or a yoga class at six am.  She can't.  So instead she tears through novels and wakes up early, extra content for the quiet time in the half dark. 

Deep ground loves her husband with her whole self.  She's worked through the levels of resentment and envy that come from watching his professional successes and knowing that she could have, perhaps, had some similar opportunities.  But she chose shorter days, long afternoons nursing and listening to love songs, strolling dreamily around the park with small babes, the clarity of focus as each change unfolds. 

They speak on the phone at night, the warm air and gentle waves at his doorstep, the cool March wind and opening earth on hers.  She reminisces about their adventures together.  How they used to see the world at every opportunity, hop a plane to an unknown locale, watch and savor and move slow, forming sentences in different languages, tasting and hearing and breathing in the new. 

This is a bit like life with children.  Extensive travel.  The wildly shifting journey, each new moment, each landmark, something to hold fast. 

Deep ground is proud she's found an analogy.  Perhaps that's what makes it feel so calm right now.  Right now, this journey is her only choice.  She's gonna go with it.

Friday, March 8, 2013


My 39th birthday is tomorrow.  The last year of a huge decade.  The last year of what feels like youth.  I'm entering my middle years.  And that's okay.
It's early morning and the children are still asleep.  In a few minutes I'll turn this off, wake them up and begin the full dance of the day.  The window is frosted over but the snow has melted.  The grass isn't green, nor is it white.  Sort of earth.  My eyes. 

I feel grounded like that end of winter grass.  Ready for light and vibrancy, content with quiet, slowly settling into what I am at this moment.

This birthday feels somehow private.  Extra personal.  I know I want to do something big when I turn forty.  A big trip to somewhere I've never been before.  Something out of my comfort zone, my safety net, my bank account.  I want to go big and break open that new vision that travel has always brought me.  I dream of it.

But for now, the new vision is here, this kitchen table, this grass, the ratty tatty old red, plastic swing that hangs from the Mountain Ash out back, probably too big now for my big boy.  I took a day away to celebrate myself with two of my partners in crime, one whose big day is the day after mine, my pisces sister.  We found ourselves back at the pass.  The sky opened and huge swathes of blue emerged from the white, the gray.  We pulled our bodies around the loop, flowed with grace and strength, big thoughts, racing mouths, mile after mile after mile.
To make the journey extra special, we extended, drove further away, found ourselves in the wild of hot springs, the enormous foot bridge one of my first memories of living in this then foreign land.  How could it be that this place even exists, I remember thinking.
 Barely a marker, barely a bend in the road and a mile in, these wild and perfect pools.  Our first shangri-la was not exactly as warm as we'd hoped and, naturally, there were sketchy old men in the best pool, eager for us to join them.  We found ourselves towards the back, more of a bath than a spa, but perfect in her humble glory.
I was extra dreamy that day.  My travel vision had exploded and I was ready to throw down some duckets, ready to create some weeklong adventure for myself somewhere tropical.  I had this vision of early morning coffee and long walks on the beach.  Reading and writing like mad, yoga in the afternoons, grounded and pure and doing the things that make me feel fully alive, my best self.

Missing my children did not come into this vision.  Needing them.  The vision was pure and real and will, indeed, happen.  But after a day with my girls, after nine uninterrupted hours of selfishness, of deep thoughts and goofy ramblings, of loud music and unexpected white outs, of muddy towels and spicy edamame dip, I felt my reset button unexpectedly hit on its own.  I was reset.  I was so ready to come home and kiss my husband, break into the room of the almost sleeping babies, see their massive smiles and sleepy, "Mommy!" mumbles, kiss their wild curls, touch their soft skin.  I remembered how tiny they still are.  I remembered how much of my grounded feeling, my best self, comes from them.  My solo tropical adventure will happen.  But it no longer felt dire.  It was a piece of my giant puzzle.  My puzzle, each piece feeling more precious and more clear, more precise and more perfect with each year.