Friday, December 31, 2010

one resolution only

i sit in a chair all day at my job.

for eight hours, my bones hibernate. locked in place, the only movement being my fingers on the keyboard, littered with crumbs. as a result, i've noticed my body acting differently. aching, physically yearning, for movement.

in the mornings, during that initial roll up in bed, with legs stretched before me and arms above my head, i hear the cracks in my elbows. it's like they're yelling for activity. nudging me, in their not so subtle way, to use them. push them to their limits. engage them.

so last night, i did a little something different.

with the melody of "pocket full of sunshine" blasting in my head, i dropped my pocketbook at the doorway of my home, ran to the nearest mirror, and had a 20-minute dance party.

right there in the living room. in my work clothes, sans heels. in curls and pantyhose. a few minutes later, robert and pablo joined in on the action. we reconvened a few hours later to dance in our pajamas.

and i felt every fiber in my body thank me. applaud me. for the simple sways and makeshift pirouettes that my  amateur feet made on the sisal rug. for the dynamic fluidity of the movements. the opening up of pores of happiness.
i don't have a list of new year's resolutions. no set of goals or ambitions.

but i do want one thing for 2011.

more dancing. 

and i'm convinced, everything else i need this year will fall into place.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

stop this train

my little brother texted me today. this is common. we talk, and usually see each other, every day.

but this time was different. he was texting me from a little diner two hours away. with his girlfriend of two years. that afternoon, they were going to tour chapel hill and look at colleges.

and i thought to myself, since when did he become old enough to drive two hours away from home? or have a girlfriend of two years? or what's bigger--tour colleges?

the transient nature of time was manifested for me in that simple text message. the same little brother i watched play t-ball, then middle school basketball, then join the high school golf team, will forever be just that--my little brother. just like my sister, who just finished her first semester in college, will always be the girl i shared a bedroom with. who aped my every action and trusted me enough to cut her bangs for the first time. the fact that these tiny souls are morphing into adults--and beautiful, stable, smart, kind adults at that--baffles and humbles me.

so i was sitting there last night. black high heels still halfway on my tired toes, dangling mere inches above the wood floor. robert and pablo were still on their way home and for the moment, it was just me. in my own little house. with soup boiling on the stove and laundry spinning loudly in the wash. i had the blinds cracked and every few minutes, a car would come rolling down our country road. i was home. i was 23. i was married. and i was wearing work clothes.

i went to go see mama and dad last night and i'm sure they wondered the same thing about me. when did this happen? when did our little girl start dating? graduate college? get married? 

sometimes the cycle of life scares me to the bone. i create a bubble of routine to force it away. but it creeps in. it has to. 

i'm reminded when i look at my sister. her bangs have been replaced by face-framing layers. she went through an oversized t-shirt phase in elementary school (who didn't?). now, she's all glamor and beauty in her black tights and scarf.

and i'm reminded when i get texts from my brother miles away. traveling through space and time.

but maybe most of all, i'm reminded when i look down at my hands typing this post.

my wedding ring.

my little reminder that yes, people i love will grow up.

but i'm still growing too.

and as long as i've got these folks around,

my sweet sister and brother

i wouldn't for a minute change the place i'm in.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

everything i ever really needed to know

when i was growing up, a pink, laminated piece of paper was displayed on our refrigerator. a relic of my days in pigtails and ribbons, the paper was titled “everything i ever really needed to know, i learned in kindergarten.” the basis was that all of life’s key skills, such as compassion, sharing and kindness are learned alongside nap time and finger painting.

and i agree. to an extent. that many integral, vital traits and lessons in that classroom. that as we ride with training wheels, we are traveling at the speed of light. toward realization. maturity. heartaches and exultations. and kingergarten is the place that prepares us.

but last night, as i entered our little cottage and heard little paws on the wood floor and felt the soft impact of fur on my skirt, i realized something else.

everything i ever needed to know in adulthood, i learned from my dog. 

being loyal means being there. plain and simple. even when what you see or know is ugly. pablo  whimpers outside my bathroom door when i’m inside, scratches at the covers when i’m in bed and he’s on the floor, and serves as my shadow no matter where i go. i leave the room for one second, he’s behind me on my heels, lightning fast. if you want someone to love you, the first thing you’ve got to do is be loyal to them. gain their trust and ensure them—there’s nowhere that you can go that you will lose me. i swear.

you only get what you give. for every belly rub, extra dollop of peanut butter, and game of fetch i give to pablo, he gives me slobbery kisses, nose nudges under the covers, and smiles as wide as his face in return. because he knows a concept that is so difficult for humans to grasp. you can’t hug someone with your arms crossed. only when you open them up, wide as the sky, are you in the position to embrace and feel love.

when it’s time to rest, rest. don’t try to do a little play/rest juggle. just lay down, cross your hands under your chin, and let out a deep sigh from the bellows of your gut. because it’s beautiful and normal. and you’ll be ready to play with ten times the fervor when you’re done.

trust. even if it means you might get hurt or lost. just trust in people. every day, i hook on pablo’s leash and gently tug him outside, to a world that is new each morning. i lift him up, spin him around and even sometimes tie his ears in loose bows. and he can’t do anything about it. so he trusts. as humans, we have more of a choice. so choose trust.

God sends rain on the just and the unjust. no one is immune to sad times, hard feelings or even, bad hair days.

celebrate the little things. every little achievement, victory or half birthday. because life’s too short, yes, but also because that’s what life is. life is not work. life is not play. life is those little moments and celebrations that happen in the middle of those two extremes. it’s a gorgeous thing, too.

when you’re scared, don’t be afraid to show it.

no matter how unbeautiful or unworthy you feel right now, you are. you are special. there is no such thing as a lost cause. we picked pablo up looking like this.

never be afraid to add a little flair to your wardrobe. it’s what keeps life interesting, colorful and playful.

love your mama. she’s the only one you’ve got.

i have a college degree and i'm getting ready to start graduate school this spring, but the best education i’ve ever received came from a bichon with four paws and a tail.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

sense and sensibility

am i less of a lady if i don't wear pantyhose? my mama said a lady ain't what she wears but what she knows.
-india.arie, video.

sometimes, i use the light from the refrigerator to see my way around the kitchen. i leave it on way too long, sucking up way too much energy and driving our power bill up.

i typically wear flats with no socks in the wintertime because sometimes, socks and flats don't work.

i often go to bed with wet hair when it's chilly out, which makes my mama sad and almost always gives me a head cold the next morning.

i don't always wear a camisole under my v-necks.

one time when i was 13, i sat down in the creek behind our house and just slopped mud on my legs for an hour.

i stay up far past a reasonable bedtime on friday nights with the sweet knowledge i can sleep in that morning.

not only do i sing in the shower, i talk to myself sometimes when cooking, pretending i'm on the food network. ("ok, now all you have to do is dump that can of cream of mushroom soup into the crockpot. see, isn't that easy? even you can do it!")

i'm not, by standard definition, always sensible.

because i'm in my twenties? because i'm a woman? because i'm still figuring my way around life, learning how to manage it and love it at the same time?


because for every unsensible, reckless, illogical thing i do, i do a million other completely acceptable things in return. i'm in bed by 10:30 on most nights. i work dilligently all day. my skirts rarely fall above my knees. the most risqué thing i did yesterday? listen to nicki minaj.

so i have my little escapes. my insignificant acts of rebellion that no one notices but me. i need these times to keep me sane. to keep me at least bordering somewhat on reasonable and yes, sensible.

so maybe i'm not always a lady. that unobtainable epitome of prim. i can't figure out the secret of liquid eyeliner. i have a few runs in my tights. a few stains on my white jacket.

but the beauty of it is, we're all that way.

isn't that perfect?

Monday, December 27, 2010

like the back of your hand

not since harry truman was in office has my part of north carolina seen a white christmas. until this year. huge, fluffy flakes began swimming down around noon on christmas day, and didn't stop until the same time on sunday. it was, in a word, magical. but that doesn't do it justice. it was blindingly beautiful. serene. peaceful to an unseemly degree.

and cold.

cold enough to demand sleeping in socks, and i hate sleeping in socks.

so i did what any chilled, bored woman would do. i took a bath. it might be cold enough to freeze the bottle of cider in my passenger seat, but i was determined to be warm. i turned the water on hot and watched it fill up the ceramic tub.

and i sat. and soaked. and read my latest us weekly cover to cover. the water was hot, the kind of turn-your-thighs-a-little-red degree that i just love. it was so humid in the room i had to fan myself with an old magazine. then it happened. the slow, sad process of cooling down. i hate it when i realize the water is teetering on the edge of tepid. because tepid is to a bath as rain is to snow. not quite the same. not quite as hearty or fulfilling.

defeated, i started to reach for the drain with my toes, to pull up the plug and let the water run out. to sit and watch it sink until the chill once again crept in. but then i heard it. a shrill screech. a whistle from the kitchen that was both alien and somewhat familiar to me at the same time. and i heard something else. heavy footsteps on floorboards. the shuffle of jeans and the crinkle of a well-worn work jacket.

and robert appeared in the doorway. with a half smile, he held up our teapot. filled with hot water. he poured it in, and i felt the water rejuvenate. renew. refresh. and i got another good half hour of soaking in.

when and if i have a daughter one day, i want to sit her down when she's old enough and tell her. darling, don't marry for money. or because he's good looking enough. or because you're compatible in just the right ways that it makes sense. not because he's smart, dependable or charming, or comes from a good family.

marry the man who will bring you water from the kitchen to refill your bathtub. marry the one who leaves love notes on the dog's water bowl because he knows that's the first place you shuffle your slippers to in the morning. who orders you an extra frosty from wendy's because he knows that when you say one, you really mean two. the man who, when someone in public asks you your name and your stutter flares up, will intercede and say it for you. {by the way, sweet girl, i hope you don't get my stutter, but if you do, we'll go at it together.}

marry the one who shows his love in the way he knows you--the real you---wholly, completely and without judgment. without words or flowery shows of fireworks, but with simple gestures that only you pick up on. because he'll be the one who's in it for the long run.

because situations change. people change. summer heat gives way to fall winds and surprise christmas snowstorms. bath water cools. but the beauty of being with someone who knows your quirks, downsides, and idiosyncrasies as intimately as his own, is that you change together.

and that makes life beautiful. and exciting. and dynamic.

and anything but lukewarm.

Friday, December 24, 2010

this little light of mine

a baby, sleeping in his mother's arms.
this baby would be like that bright star, 
shining in the sky that night.
a light to light up the whole world--
chasing away darkness, helping people to see.
and the darker the night got,
the brighter the star would shine.

merry, merry christmas to each one of you. 
may your hearts be light.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

ladybugs and light

i stayed home sick from work yesterday. i woke up with a scratchy throat, heavy head and a pile of blankets that beckoned to me from behind my bedroom doors. so i just did it. gave myself a day just for me. i nursed my cold with hot wassail, plenty of tissues, and all the E! news i could fit in. 

and i tried, with the little strength i could muster, to be somewhat productive. to wrap that pile of presents hibernating in my closet. to get started on my christmas grocery list. to order my textbooks for grad school next semester.

but for some reason, no matter how busy i felt, nothing was accomplished. do you ever have that feeling? when you're so super busy, just puttering around, that you don't do anything of substance? my whole day was spent doing menial, thoughtless tasks that by the time evening rolled around, i felt just as crummy as when i woke up. it should be noted that i also feel incredibly guilty when i miss work, even if it's for a legitimate reason like being sick. i don't know why, but it just makes me feel unhelpful, and i come from a long line of women who show love by helping and giving.

to top it off, we have a bit of a ladybug problem in the cottage. when the temperature begins to dip and we  turn our oil heat on, the little buggers gravitate toward the warmth and the light from inside--a refuge from the chill with plenty of fun windowsills to crawl over. for a while, i've brushed it off. ladybugs are supposed to be good luck, so what can a few hurt? but yesterday it was just about too much, and i resorted to picking them up and taking them outside. 

i had the blinds pulled up all over the cottage so i could get to them better.

then i saw it. when i was putting on my moccasins in the bedroom. the sun was setting. and a ray of light washed in from the living room. i looked at it, then tried to keep on tying my shoes. but i couldn't. i couldn't look away for the life of me. i felt a pull, a real, live tug, in the direction of the light. so i followed it. with my shoes half on, i walked into the den and saw it. my entire little cottage was bathed in light. the windows were naked, their blinds pulled up from my ladybug capturing spree. as a result, the light was that much more brilliant. 

and there's nothing more beautiful than a living room awash with sunset. everything was illuminated with a romantic, soft glow that i can't attach words to. i sat there on the sofa and let it hit me square between the eyes. and i felt the Holy Spirit in that room. and i realized, for all i did that day, i had put my Savior last. i had filled my hours with computer work, checking e-mail, and watching television that i almost forgot to give thanks, pray and reflect. no wonder nothing was accomplished.

so i did just that. like the ladybugs, i gravitated toward the light.and i prayed as i felt it. just as sure as i felt the suede around my ankles. i felt the sweet reassurance that tomorrow would be a better day. everything would be accomplished in due time. peace rushed over me.

and like the ladybugs, i was saved.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

regularly scheduled & programmed

there's a chicken joint downtown. a little diner with brick walls and a shingled roof. salad bar tuesdays and check-out counters lined with homemade strawberry cake. waitresses wear name tags and will leave a pitcher of sweet tea on the table if you ask. in our little town, it's a major hub. faces pour in and walk out. the crowd is constantly changing, evolving and growing.

but every tuesday night for years, the same two sweet faces sat at the little corner table. holding hands across the silverware, sugar bowls, and bread baskets. robert's great aunt and uncle made it a point, every single week, to stop what they were doing and go there. to be around happy people. to dip some tenders in fresh honey mustard. to just get out of the house. even before i knew robert, i knew blanche and george. him in his gelled, combed hair and she in her ruby lipstick and best dress shirt. they made a point to look dapper, even though it was routine. commonplace. weekly.

because there's beauty in routines. and even more than that, there's comfort. knowing, without question, that today's events will follow the foolproof pattern of yesterday. however, being a slave to routine is different. if the possibility for beneficial change is presented, clinging too tightly to tradition will turn days into quicksand. the idea--the ultimate goal--is to be flexible without breaking. to hold to what's familiar, with one eye on what's unforseen, new and even a bit scary. 

but boy, do i love my routines.

like every tuesday and thursday. on these nights, i join hands with the six people i love and cherish most in the entire world. over my nanno's formica table, we break bread, watch wheel of fortune, and talk about our afternoons. we use paper plates and throw-away cups. i feel the heat pour in through the floor vents. we keep up with who's a return champion on jeopardy(tom has been on for almost three weeks!) and it's beautiful. 


my sweet sister and brother

i believe those daily routines, those little eccentric rituals that encompass our hours, are central to our being. they root us, ground us and sustain us. and they're not boring, and partaking in them does not make us sticks in the mud. humans are creatures of comfort. like any good thing, too much will ruin you. but just the right amount? why, i believe we could live on it alone.

that's why my morning are like clockwork. each involves a hot cup of coffee, slippers on my feet, curlers in my hair and my husband's wave and air kiss out the front door as i drive away. i wake before robert and pablo, and return to the dark bedroom gingerly, the sweet smell of sleep permeating the air. i always pick up pablo in my arms and carry him to the guest bed, where, every morning for past two years, we have engaged in belly rubs. every single morning. and just as my morning would be totally off without it, i'd like to think his would be also.

so i'll keep doing it. 

keep waking at the same sunrise hour. keep arranging my schedule to have tuesday and thursday nights free to eat with my family. keep giving the best belly rubs ever. keep meeting robert's smile in my rearview mirror before work. because those routines are healthy, lovely and intensely special to me. i'm open to change, and willing to alter my ways, but right now, this isn't quicksand.

it's the only truly solid ground i've got.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

an awakening over soup

something happened last night.

between slipping off my high heels and slipping on my pajamas, a change washed over me. perhaps not a change, but more of an awakening. of something often latent inside my spirit.

i felt feminine. not just girly, but overwhelmingly, achingly feminine.  through deadlines, paperwork and meetings, it can be easy to slip into an androgynous zone, where i lose touch of what drives me curl my hair in the morning and paint my toenails in the wintertime.

it happened in the kitchen. with night settling into the bones of our house, floorboards creaking under my slippered feet. robert was watching television with pablo sprawled across his lap. 

and i was making soup. standing over a boiling pot, letting the rising steam pour its sweet breath over my eyelids. not thinking about work, or that evening's plans or what to make for dessert. that was when it first crept up on me. that womanly notion. and it wasn't just because i was making dinner for my family. it was actually quite the opposite--i was only thinking of myself for a little bit.

it happened because i felt like my mama. and standing over that burner, i felt like my grandma too. this isn't to say that a woman can only be feminine standing over a stove. oh it's far, far deeper than that. nor do i think you have to be obviously feminine to be a whole, complete, beautiful woman. rather, it's about claiming the right to be happy in the kitchen, in that silent, sacred space. it's actually a rather forward-thinking idea, to take back that room as ours, rather than just a vessel through which to please. i felt feminine because i was taking time to feel the woman in me. to sit for a second and wait for the water to boil.

that soup was making me happy in that moment, and fine and dandy if the rest of my family wanted some as well. but this wasn't about them. because i can't be the kind of wife, daughter and doggie mama i want to be unless i take time to indulge myself occasionally. for me tonight, this meant standing over soup and letting my worries evaporate to the ceiling.

so i'll share the recipe with you, along with some pictures from my evening, in hopes that this soup will be for you whatever you need it to be.

lentil soup

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 pound lentils (approximately 1 1/4 cups)
11 cups low-salt chicken broth
4 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs (i left these out)
2/3 cup dried elbow pasta
1 cup shredded Parmesan

Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and saute until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes.  

    Add the tomatoes with their juices.

      Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the lentils and mix to coat. 

      Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes. *tip: if you leave a wooden spoon in your pot, it won't over-boil.

      Stir in the pasta. Simmer until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes.
      Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

        Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan, drizzle with olive oil, and serve.
      so try it. indulge in what makes you feel like you, feminine or not. whether it's making soup, writing, or fly fishing. because if it's special enough to make you happy,
      it's special indeed.

      Monday, December 20, 2010

      don't let your dreams be dreams

      when daylight savings time hits and the nights get shorter--too short to go on walks in the country or swing on our front porch and watch the sun go down--robert and i are forced to find other means of evening entertainment. 

      this usually results in following at least one, if not a half dozen or so, new television shows. in the past, 24, LOST and desperate housewives have been our vices of choice. but recently, we have been indulging in a little guilty pleasure known as gold rush alaska. this discovery channel program follows six men who gave up everything to trek out to alaska and mine for gold. 

      when i first saw this, my immediate thought was "this sounds like the yukon trail computer game." please tell me someone else spent copious amounts of time in front of the screen as a tween playing this fabulous "oregon trail" spin-off.

      i thought it ridiculous. and foolish. and, quite honestly, crazy. 

      to leave home and risk everything--every single thing--for the mere chance that riches lie buried beneath the boulders. to spend a whole three weeks not mining, but building a machine to pan for gold, to sift through the silt and mud for tiny nuggets. 

      however, upon further viewing, the show turned a corner, and my feelings toward it did too. 

      the men brought their wives and children up to live with them in the wilderness. i watched one wife walk gingerly off the plane, taking in the snow-capped mountains and rivers around her. i watched as her husband led her to the cabin he had built for her, and i saw his daughter playing in the sand.

      and it hit me.

      his dream isn't crazy at all. because it's his. it's solely and beautifully his, and that alone makes it worthwhile. and he's chasing it, which is more than i can say about myself half the time.

      seeing him with his family cemented that for me. i saw the love in his crinkled brow wash the worry away from his wife's eyes. they understood each other. they got it. and who cared if i didn't get it? it wasn't mine to get.

      there's a piece of paper that i've been carrying around in my pocketbook for a week now. a simple name, scribbled down on the back of a take-out menu. a bra size. jean size. t-shirt size. a local woman that my bible study is sponsoring for christmas. a real, live woman, with real children, narrowed down to measurements and figures.

      i've been scurrying about all week getting ready for christmas. almost every evening, i've found some reason to go to target, wal-mart or the shopping center, scrambling about for gifts and clothes for my family and friends. all the while, leaving that piece of paper zipped up. forgetting that a dream was inside there. 

      a dream of a christmas without apologies to little faces. without shrugs and sighs of disappointment. without excitement shot down. without "maybe next year."

      and it doesn't matter that i can't relate. that i don't understand or can't fathom. because, like the miner, her dream is singular. and it's not my place to try and identify. all i can do is help.

      so i went shopping tonight. not for myself or my family. but for her. to do my part, my teeny, itsy part, to make sure her dreams.

      aren't dreams anymore.

      Friday, December 17, 2010

      the good fight

      robert and i had a fight the other day. 

      a simple quarrel in the middle of the grocery store aisle. 

      trying to hush and silence the rising volume in our voices as we grasped onto our salami. a little disagreement about whether to use cash or card to purchase our items. perhaps the lamest argument in history. 

      but it escalated and resulted in hurt feelings. in a digging up of past wrongs, current struggles and worries about the future. we didn't speak the whole way home. and twenty minutes feels like eternity with the black highway rolling silently beneath your wheels. even pablo could sense something was wrong, and sounded a muffled whimper until we pulled into the driveway. 

      and we worked it out. we sat on our sofa with the christmas lights twinkling. the television grumbling in the background, i positioned myself in the safe, warm crook of his strong arms. and we talked. honestly. rawly. for a long time. our voices loud in the air of the living room at midnight. and in the end, all was okay. we would have stayed up and talked all night, if we had to. and for a while there, i thought that very well might be what it took.

      because we're not perfect. because we were tired. because sometimes, a healthy spat is needed in a relationship. of course there are deal-breakers. like hitting. and cheating. and lying. never okay. but a fight that forces you to look introspectively, to consult your actions and how they affect the ones you love? occasionally good for you.

      because when i stood at the alter of the church i grew up in, my 21-year-old fingers, shaking with excitement and nerves, sliding on his wedding ring, i made a promise.

      to love him. yes, in sickness and health, for better or for worse. but those are common words. they are holy and beautiful, but they need to be translated sometimes.

      what that means is i will love you even if you wear a million white undershirts and our laundry pile is always twice the size of normal even though it's just us two. you will love me even if i forget you hate quiche and make a tuna casserole with eggs that ends up quite quiche-like. i will love you through layoffs, promotions, babies and grandbabies. through family deaths and births.

      and yes, i will love you through fights at the grocery store. especially ones that result in making up over reruns of E! news and hot cider.

      because the fact is, this man still sleeps to the left of me. he is mine and i am forever his. constantly learning and growing with him. this wasn't our first fight and it won't be our last. we're not done with little challenges.

      but we're not done loving, either. 

      as long as we both shall live.

      Thursday, December 16, 2010

      my heart on my sleeve

      it's snowing here in north carolina. by snowing i  mean a nasty slush of rain/snow/sleet, just enough to deem the roads undriveable, and warrant a two-hour delay from work. yesterday, the air around my town was getting ready for this. this beautiful, once-or-twice a year treat of long mornings spent sleeping under quilts, snowman-building in the afternoon sun, and sipping hot coffee in front of the television.

      the air dipped into freezing yesterday. my car struggled to start in this newfound chill. my toes were ice blocks as soon as i stepped onto the wooden floorboards beneath my bed. when i left the house yesterday morning, i remembered leaving my favorite jacket at mama and dad's. my cream white pea coat with oversized buttons. it sat warm and unused, a mere few miles away.

      so i reached for another coat, then quickly put it back and went for a different one. i couldn't take this one. my vintage, waffle-texture long coat with a single gold clasp at the neck. i didn't leave it behind because of the weather. a little rain wouldn't hurt it. i didn't leave it because of its weight. it's plenty heavy enough to shield me from the winds that sang through my trees.

      honestly, i left it behind because i really don't like it anymore. it's not that soft. there's a slight yellow circle-shaped stain on the back. the clasp is hard to manage and tends to come undone easily.

      but i'd never give it away.  i can't even put it in my shop. because every time i look at it, i remember.

      dipping my toes in the pacific ocean for the first time this past autumn. standing in my bare feet in the hazy, gray glow that permeated cannon beach, oregon. i swear, the scene was almost european, with birds decorating the sand and water the color of slate. it was gorgeous.

      as we hastily pulled into our motel, i grabbed that coat out of the trunk and ran, hand in hand, with robert. literally chasing the sunset, we hurried to the beach, over cobblestone streets and a cove of sea brush, finally arriving to this:

      i was wearing the coat then, and so i will hold onto it now. on it is the sea spray and memories of my trip, and perhaps a few crumbs from the boysenberry scone i devoured moments before that picture of me was taken.

      so i'll keep it in my closet. for that reason alone.

      like the curious george boxer shorts i got in the 7th grade, on our family's only trip to disneyworld. they have a flap in the front and i'm certain they are for boys, but i've held onto them. because when i look at the image of george, wearing his spacesuit and floating around on the fabric, i remember that vacation. the heat that just sat on top of the atmosphere and almost suffocated us. riding the rock n' roller coaster with my mama, my hips hurting the entire rest of the trip after that initial jolt. my dad's sweet laugh and my sister's fright and nerves as we approached each ride. 

      isn't it funny how we associate so many memories with clothes? i think that's why i love vintage so much, because you can almost feel the decades in the fibers. and i'm so happy and thankful for those precious souls who donate their clothes to thrift stores, so i can happily snatch them up and make my own memories in them.

      so the coat sits in the closet. 

      smashed between my jeans and winter sweaters. collecting dust. 

      maybe one day i can pass it down to my daughter, and tell her, over a steaming pot of coffee, how her mama and daddy interlocked fingers and ran into the ocean. how we chased  the sun and raced with nature together. i hope she'll be able to feel the love, my heart, on the sleeves.

      because it's there. and just because i don't wear it anymore doesn't mean it's gone. just like when i close my eyes, i can still see oregon.

      because memories embed themselves in the most unexpected of places. in the chipped red paint of my desk, the one i painted outside one warm spring evening. in the pupils of pablo's eyes. and in the threads of clothing.

      yes, especially in the threads of clothing.