Wednesday, May 30, 2012

memorial day.

Location: my secret spot on campus to eat lunch + watch the boats on Lake Washington, University of Washington Medical Center
While everyone I know loaded up their cars with camping essentials and headed out of Seattle for a three day weekend filled with boating, booze + BBQs, I worked for fifty-two consecutive hours and tried to ignore the sunshine that permeated the PNW. I was throwing a pity party for myself {complete with cupcakes} for the fourth day in a row when I was thinking about the purpose of Memorial Day + how two military experiences I encountered flying recently gave this unofficial start to summer a completely different meaning. When I was flying to Fort Lauderdale a few weeks back, I was walking by a gate with a huge crowd of people surrounding the jetway and right when I stopped to see what all the commotion was about, a soldier returning from his tour of duty fell in to the arms of his wife and his two-month-old daughter he was meeting for the first time. As the some hundred odd people witnessing this incredible moment clapped, cheered + cried tears of happiness, it felt exactly how a homecoming as beautiful as this was supposed to be.
Location: Green Lake
Two weekends ago when I was groggily getting off a red-eye in which I hardly slept a wink because of an unfortunate middle seat + a "medical emergency" that gave me an adrenaline rush at 3AM flying somewhere over  Oklahoma, we were asked to wait for a military man escorting a fallen soldier to get off first. Just hearing the flight attendant make this announcement immediately stunned me. As seat belts began to unhook + everyone around me began to unload their luggage from overhead bins, I stood there in aisle eleven completely paralyzed... We just flew for five hours across the country with a real hero below this seat that I've been cursing? ... It immediately put my life back in to perspective. I watched the casket descend down the luggage belt with an American flag draped over it and as the military personnel ceremoniously stood guard, I, like everyone else who was watching from the terminal, broke down in to tears again, this time in tears of sadness.      
Location: Alki Beach, Seattle
I may not have been able to go camping or rock climbing last weekend but I most certainly enjoyed my freedoms at a job that I love, feeling ever grateful for this one wild + precious life. To those who serve our country, thank you. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

mama.

It started a couple of months back when this video went viral.  

I found myself explaining a situation that I rarely talk about with my closest friends to nearly strangers... with colleagues, on first dates, to preceptors... rehashing the blurry details of the trials + tribulations that defined my adolescence... the same sad story I spent most of my late teens putting behind me. 

She did drugs. It put her in premature labor. The baby tested positive. The courts got involved. I was removed from her home... she disappeared after that and we didn't hear from her for a very long time... 

While I am not in denial of where I came from, I most certainly had come to terms with the reality of my new normal, that without a mum... and although I missed her immensely, I refused to let being stripped of a childhood define me. I refused to succumb to the label of a "drug abuser's daughter" and chose to channel the energy in to positive manifestations... and move on.  It was an unfortunate series of events in my adolescence that I had no control of and in all honesty, I can hardly distinguish the details of it to this day. It was the end of living a life as I once knew it but it wasn't the end of life... 

...and the exact moment I realized this was the day I chose to keep on living the same full + exciting life I grew up in some ten-odd years ago. Everything happens for a reason; I had figured out why. I was stronger, less selfish, overly optimistic, humbled + appreciative for all the good I could find in the most unassuming places. I had unveiled a passion + an untameable ability to dream. I was a better person because of this + not many things in life can give you all of that in a single moment... so when the dust finally settled, I found myself feeling more grateful than anything.

... but every time someone sees the video + realizes my association, I find myself fumbling for words trying to articulate a perfect dialogue of this conversation regarding "a blind boy with autism who was born to a drug addict". 

That drug addict was my mum. 

While I have come to realize I will never have an eloquent response for the inevitable closing remark, "Well, you turned out incredibly well despite what you've had to overcome"... it is in this moment that I always begin to cry and softly say, "If you could have known her, you would know I am the person I am today because of my mum, in spite of all this."

As everyone around me made plans for their mothers on Sunday and I subtly retreated, it dawned on me that it has been nearly a year since I have seen my mama and that's when it hit me like a ton of bricks... When did it become normal to go an entire year without seeing my mum... and not even notice? It's. not. normal.   

I have been thinking about her a lot recently, missing her presence in my daily life... wishing I could call her in the middle of the day just to say hi, feeling angry knowing that the mum who raised me isn't the voice that I would get on the other line. Feeling sad, barely able to recall what it was like to have a mama as your best friend. Occasionally, there are glimmers of hope that the keeper of my childhood isn't gone for forever but most days I find myself fighting back tears trying to decipher the words of a stranger. 

I lost her at a time when a little girl needs her mama the most and once I processed that she was gone, I accepted my fate + moved forward... As I have grown up over the last few years, I don't need her anymore... but as I grow older, oh my word, do I want her here. I want her to relish in all our accomplishments because they're her accomplishments, too. I want her to know her granddaughter in the same way I know my grams. I want her to lecture me about safe dating. I want her to make sure I'm drinking enough water + getting enough sleep. I want my mom back. 

My heart is heavy tonight.

While I know these are feelings I have had to process before and will probably process many more times with every coming of age throughout my lifetime, I can't help but wish she was in the kitchen right now, suntanned + smelling like a mix between tea tree oil + patchouli, dancing to Bob Marley in some beaded tye-dye sundress she got in Key West with Birkenstocks on, cooking a tofu curry concoction she knew we'd think was weird + asking whether we've brushed our teeth and done our homework... 


...because, instead of rolling my eyes + sighing, "Maaahm" with utmost embarrassment, I'd join in on her dance party + I would eat her home-cooked meal. I know every word to every Bob Marley song now, Mom... and I eat tofu now, too. I am you... and I couldn't be more proud to be your daughter. 

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

call me maybe

 On the eve of our four year college graduation, I got to reunite with my three other halves on the East coast of Florida for one whirlwind weekend. When we are together, something magical happens. I always struggle to find the words to describe just how wonderful it is to be in the presence of these three incredible women {I attempted to here after our last roommate reunion}... but let's just say, there were unicorns among us. 
 When Florida thunderstorms threatened to rain on our party... we took our baby monitor and case of beer to the hot tub below our patio and endured the cold showers in the heat of the hot tub... getting lost in conversation for hours as the rain continued to pour down... We talked about motherhood, being a fiance, the struggles of grad school + the dating game. More dark clouds rolled in and we talked about seven day sex challenges, slowing metabolisms, sugaring + afternoons at the dog park. Thunder boomed in the near distance and we shared our deepest secrets and biggest fears. We laughed. We cried. But most importantly, we had dance parties that could have left a scar... if we weren't stone sober...
 There is a reason why our significant others {past + present} fear when the four of us get together. It always leads to trouble... We end up in Panama City Beach for spring break with a hockey team... or in matching t-shirts at the stage production of RENT! 2.5 hours from our college town... or driving to Pleasure Island for a night of spinning on revolving dance floors... or in this case, remaking this video... 

call me maybe from Jocelyn Kirk on Vimeo.
If I were ever stranded on an island, Carly, Jess + Megan are the three necessities I would take. We may wither away in the immense heat somewhere off the map but damn it, we'd die laughing, dancing and happy. 

your one wild + precious life, liberated.

I'm currently neglecting a project that was due six hours ago... daydreaming about summer {+ farmers markets + jelly sandals + popsicles + wide-brimmed hats} on a coffee house patio in direct sunlight, watching the ferries troll down the canal in one of my favourite niches of this city... 


I'm fairly certain there is a direct correlation between the amount of sunshine in my life + the amount of  inspiration I find to blog... March and April were full of dreary showers + gloomy days and my very little presence in my happy place on the internet was a reflection of said weather{ed}. Every time I would sit down and start typing I found myself writing about the record-setting number of hours of sleep I was{n't} getting, the way in which my heart ached for home, how I had wished so badly that it was still twenty-eleven and the war I was currently declaring on the hot mess that twenty-twelve was quickly evolving in to... as I missed multiple flights {in the same weekend!}, laundry piled up in every corner, countless cups of coffee were spilled in my console, my inbox was flooded with unanswered e-mails, I lost passports, drivers licenses, debit cards, house keys and work badges.... the latter two are still missing....  
But while everything on the surface seemed to be spiralling a teensy bit out of control, there was something strengthening underneath... a renewed sense of self that came to fruition this weekend when a scenic drive through the whispering pines of the Redwood Forest and along the NorCal coastline... a late-night escapade lit up by the super moon as the moonshine danced over the ocean... brought me in to a head-on collision with the realization I had been searching for all along... you are from where you thought you were supposed to be, exactly where you want to be + it's okay to be insanely happy about it. 
You have not reached the milestones you grew up believing were a measure of success. You are not married to the man of your dreams {yet}. You don't have the four children you have been yearning for your whole life. You don't have the time to be responsible for that yellow lab puppy named Oliver you have been threatening to rescue for the last four years. You don't have a savings account. You don't even have a permanent address... but you do have limitless freedom + know how to carpe the hell of that freedom like no other.  
You are domestication's worst nightmare. You cannot cook. You cannot sew. You cannot iron. You cannot budget. You cannot stay organized to save your life... but that's okay because you've mastered the art of saving other's lives + you're only ten months from receiving the degree to prove it.  
You procrastinate, always. You overcommit yourself, too often. You never stop, ever. You seize every opportunity to miss out on sleep. You drink way too much caffeine and not nearly enough water. You don't call your parents. You consume too much sugar, mostly in the form of cupcakes. You smile reflexively. You are overly obsessed with sunshine, newborns and instagram. You are the queen of starting creative projects + never actually finishing one of them. You rarely ever eat enough vegetables. You overuse the line, "when I grow up..." You think fairytales do exist + truly believe in happily ever afters. You spent too much time reading blogs + not nearly enough time reading the newspaper. You live out of a suitcase + feel most at home on an aeroplane. You think standing for twelve hours counts as exercise. You cry, a lot. You have a habit of dreaming + think that maybe, just maybe, one day you will author a N.Y.T. best seller. Your one wild and precious life may defy every law of convention... but you secretly love every minute of the circus, red + white striped tent, three rings, elephants + all.  
Last week was liberating. I crossed boundaries outside my usual comfort zone making me vulnerable to a new experience that made me incredibly thankful for my close friends who repeatedly told me I would be just fine... and as it turns out, I'm better than fine; I'm insanely happy. I rode said liberation train down to LA on Friday night to relish in the cinco-de-mayo festivities with some of my most favourite people, spent all afternoon on the beaches of Malibu Saturday + ran a half marathon down the Avenue of the Giants Sunday. It most certainly wasn't the most conventional way to spend your only three days off but my goodness, was it wild + precious...