Monday, June 30, 2014

holy hell, carmel

And somehow we made it.  Even after our plane was cancelled.  Even after we lost time and waited in rental car lines and braved Friday afternoon Bay area traffic.  We made it.  Our first weekend away in ages.  And man was it lovely.  Brief.  But fantastic. 

The gods of sunshine shined down upon us and our one full day in Carmel was almost tropical in feel.  After a late night Friday of settling into our groove at the historic Cali lodge, our groom buddy's Thai surfer pal cooking up amazing treats on the outdoor grill, I fell asleep with a happy belly and a full heart.  When Jeffy's alarm woke us at six a.m. so that he could go surf, I was moderately bummed not to be sleeping in more.  But then my honey invited me to the beach.  And I realized that I had that kind of freedom.  To jam my book in my bag, and hit the sand, no other planning or packing necessary.  It was perfect.  I love watching the day begin on the water.  The way the fog lifts.  The quiet of the morning.  As the sun slowly rose, I watched my husband greet wave after wave, his smile as expansive as the horizon.  Whenever a wave was particularly splendid, he'd check to see if I'd seen him and then flash me a giant thumbs up.  I was pretty in love.

After many hours of lounging and reading and stretching on the sand and wandering up and down the shore, we decided to go big with a romantic lunch.  I picked a little French place with alfresco dining straight out of Europe -- white stucco, over-flowing ivy, huge terracotta pots spilling forth orange and purple blossoms.  We had oysters on the half shell and crab cakes, an ahi salad nicoise, white wine.  I really could have sat there forever, my face shaded by a huge umbrella, the waiter so attentive, my husband so handsome. 

The wedding was that afternoon, set beneath a massive oak tree high on a hill.  I have a thing for oak trees.  I grew up around them, feel safe amongst their curled and knotted branches all whirl and swirl and wisdom. 

The wedding was everything that is wonderful about romance and commitment.  It was simple and honest and heartfelt and intimate.  So many aspects of the whole weekend reminded me of our wedding weekend almost ten years ago.  The coming together of friends from different pieces of our lives, the melding of families, a mellow vibe, ensconced in nature. 

 But alas, all good things have to end, sometimes somewhat quickly after they began.  Sunday was a travel day and while I was super sad to bid adieu to the homeland, my Soli's kisses and my Elie's voice were calling me home.  They had an amazing time with their Nana, all swimming pool frolics and diner dates, so happy and confident they are off on their own.  So I guess it was a win-win.  We were able to be together.  They were able to be together.  And, today, we get to all come back together.  With sand in my hair and gratitude in my heart.

Monday, June 23, 2014

solstice come back

I was pretty low when I didn't get to see my sister.  But, alas, the next day the sun came out again.  The next day, it was still summer.  The next day, the kids and I had days upon days of slow moving, organic morphing, from one random activity to the next -- the art, the garden, the kitchen, the neighbors, the fairy houses, the hockey sticks.  It's a busy life. 

So even without my sweet sissy, I had to put my party pants back on.  It was my first week of summer.  My BFF was having a rockin' 40th bash on the lake.  There were toasts to plan (I wrote a rap...I pulled it was rad), dishes to make, swimsuits to pack.  So we move through disappointment and meet the new day with gratitude for all we have.  Sounds like a plan. 

It's pretty darn lovely to have all of your closest friends and their children and husbands all gathered in one spot for twenty four hours.  The lake glows like a promise and the children race from the zip-line to the paddle board and back, hands sticky with popsicles.  It's a damn good life.  Not to pound this out one more time but, hot dang, I'm a lucky lady. 

At the center of all this summery goodness is the insane connection I'm feeling to both of my kids.  They are so lovely to be around.  I think this is the first summer that I can really say that with absolute conviction.  They are just both so much more human, so rational, so easy to hang with.  Soli still has his moments but he moves through them so quickly, one jaunty foot in front of the oEther.  Tonight Eliana was out to dinner with a friend and Soli and I sat and ate together on the deck, just the two of us.  He spend the morning at gymnastics space camp and good golly did he have lots to say about the moon.  And rocket ships.  And aliens.  His vocabulary is developing so beautifully.  Later tonight he told Eliana that her chalk drawing was, "Absolutely wonderful."  I wonder where he got that...

Eliana just moves from friend to friend, from play date to park date to neighborhood wackiness.  She's so friendly and adaptable, so emotionally tuned in and kind.  I'm really, really proud of all she represents.  She partied hard at the lake.  She was insane on this zip-line obstacle course, her little body soaring above and then dropping effortlessly back to earth.  The same with the board.  She just loads up and heads out into the lake, no problem.  Magical moments to be sure.  I woke up on Sunday morning to my kids asking if they could go on a nature walk with their buddies.  Six little girls and Soli wandered into the woods with my girlfriend Mary leading the charge.  Little Lia had made them all nature walk crowns and they headed into the green, their little heads wrapped in paper bands.  My clan was representing and I was so thankful that my kids get to be in that mix.

So we just keep on moving forward.  Jeff and I leave on Thursday night to take our first trip alone in over seven years.  Seven years!  The last time was our, "Babymoon", me massively pregnant with Eliana in Whitefish.  Hot dang.  Another lifetime ago.  We are so fortunate that Roseann will be able to watch the kiddos, that they feel safe and comfy enough with her to let us leave.  We will happily celebrate an old friends wedding in the Carmel Valley, norther California in all her misty glory spread out before us.  It doesn't even seem real.   Anxiety and anticipation and just glory in the now all mixed together in one zesty cocktail!

So we roll through our solstice, roll into a new season.   I don't seem to have pictures that really capture how swell those two little people are, but I'll have to settle for these little moments, these sweet dreams. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014


I am so grateful that I don't feel this very often.  It's a terrible, terrible feeling.  For an optimist, it's like digging yourself in a dark, one-ended tunnel.  It's a trap and it doesn't let you feel the way you did before. 

My sister and Mazzy were supposed to come today.  There was an airline mix-up and they couldn't make it.  It's hard to even type.  I have never been more ready for houseguests.  I channeled my mom hardcore -- I bought all of Hilary's favorite foods, had a fresh bag of diapers waiting in the room, the pack and play all ready with the softest blankets.  I've been cleaning the house for days, making random little decorating changes, doing goofy things that no one will notice but me.  We finally feel so settled here, so content, so like this is our home and all I wanted to do was share that with my number one girl.  It feels good to write it down.  I tried to hike it out but I was still tethered to my phone, tethered to some hope that they would be able to make it. 

We've been in Missoula for thirteen years.  I never, ever thought I would move away from my family.  And somewhere along the line, it just happened.  We stayed.  We made our own family.  Our friendships grew deep roots.  But Hilary has always existed outside of all of that.  I have never made peace with being away from her.  And now we have our kids and the idea of them just having some quiet days together in our yard was like a little piece of perfection in my mind.  I wanted us in a vacuum of us.  The vacuum that I gave up when I moved into this life.

We aren't childhood sisters anymore.  We aren't college, down the block mates.  We aren't in our early twenties sharing a bohemian apartment.  We are two women, so alike at our core -- the same voices, the same stance.  We are two mothers who would give anything for their people.  We are two daughters, cut from the same wacky, tangled, vibrant cloth.  Waiting another month to see her feels absolutely devastating.  But, alas, disappointment is a curse and I've gotta let it go.  They are safe.  We are too.  The summer stretches before us full of possibility and potential.  But how I wish I could have seen them today. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

last day

Tomorrow is the last day of school.  THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL.  It's surreal, really.  To think that this time next week there will be no where that any of us need to be.  That we can move slow like agave nectar, slow like light June wind, slow like folk music and white wine.  Slow.  Our life is so not slow in this moment. 

This morning everyone wanted to sleep.  Soli had been in my bed from two to four and when I finally kicked him out, I couldn't get back to sleep.  My hope for a yoga early morning was thwarted by the snooze button and a pretty foul mood.  From there it was the dirty kitchen, the pile of to do's for breakfasts and lunches, Jeff having to race out for an early meeting, me and the curls, the mismatched socks, the missing toothpaste.  All I really had to call my own was my perfect cup of chai.  When the kids opened the door to move towards the car, Lucy escaped.  She ran towards the poor poodle on a leash being walked by my down the road neighbor.  He got flustered, took her off the leash, the two of them began some insane dance up and down all the driveways.  The man and I followed suite, us screaming our dogs names, racing up other people's property.  Down with OPP.  The man was shouting, "She just had an operation!  She's not supposed to run!"  I was shouting, "I'm so sorry.  Goddammit, Lucy!"  The kids were screaming and jumping, "LUCY! LUCY!" The man's kid was about to miss his bus. 

Finally Eliana tackled Lucy, grabbed her collar, won the ridiculous game.  I apologized again to my neighbor, raced the kids to the car at which point, the chai, the blessed chai that had been balancing so perfectly by the car, was accidentally knocked by Soli's backpack and, alas, spilled her cardamon-y goodness down the driveway.  So I strapped the kids in, told them I would be right back, and took the time to heat myself another kettle of water.  I made another perfect cup.  Because on the second to last day of school, sometimes you just have to breathe, have to swallow being late before swallowing a morning without a simple gift of caffeinated loveliness. 

The good thing was that the re-telling of my morning had my sixth graders in stitches.  And I really love my sixth graders.  I always get all sappy and sad this time of year.  The graduations and promotions, the kids who move on to other schools or higher grades.  I was sappy during our end-of-the-year performance as I watched Eliana bust a move, sappy this morning at Soli's preschool show as I watched him sing his little heart out.  They have both had such awesome school years.  For that I am eternally thankful.  They love their teachers, love to learn, love their school and friends.  When it all seems like too much, I remind myself that we're doing it for them.  For all of them. 

This early June has been spectacular -- warm and sunshiny and perfectly spring-like.  All of us around these parts are kind of wondering what's up.  Our normal May/June is a cold, rainy/snowy/slurpy mess.  So we hike in the woods and bask in the sunshine.  We hang artwork on the deck and spend our afternoons outside.  Soli finally masters his bike.  Eliana takes hers over the ramp across the road, inspired by the across the street neighbor ten-year old boy's sweet tricks.  They shimmy up tree trunks and ask to hike their favorite mountains.  We put African violets in pots and mint and stevia and chives in the front yard.  Eliana loves to claim hunger and then pick herself a few leaves.  

Auntie and cousins arrive.  They love and share and dress-up and sing loud.  That cousin connection really begins to gel.  I feel how well we move through space, how important it is to always reconnect with family.  I see the complexities and depth of love as it moves through generations, the sadness that is watching someone slowly walk out of one life and towards the unknown. 

Our summer shines ahead with lots of adventure, family, friends, plans.  It's not wide-open, and that's got to be okay.  I will challenge myself to love on every hour that we have, even when the fights start up, even when they claim they have nothing to do.  I will rely on the blessed reserve inside, the channel that restarts and restarts bringing new life like the seasons, bringing new energy for each new day.