Friday, February 5, 2016

Dark Luck, White Paint


I've been getting back into skateboarding lately. Avalon hates it so far, so she doesn't really come and watch. The other day I tried to sit her on a quilt in a soft grassy area next to the skate bowl with some toys she hadn't seen in a while so I could practice a few kick-turns. She was unmistakably distraught. Scott held her one evening while I skated the back pool and each time I did a turn she cried on cue like a metronome. 

I only have this one picture of me skating because I can't imagine how embarrassing it would feel to be the most mediocre, most documented skater at the park. One night this week I went to skate after Avalon was in bed. The sky was so dark, but the whole park was lit up. You could see everyone's breath. 

Maybe the thing I like most about skateboarding is how it brings people of all different ages and backgrounds together. Nah, who am I kidding? The thing I like most about skating is the rush; how even if a bunch of people are standing around watching you flap your arms for no effective reason and maybe your butt crack is showing, all you can think about is going faster and higher. I also like how everyone is presented with the same medium and no one uses it the same way. Dave says he hates being asked why he likes skateboarding because he finds it as hard to answer as the question "What's your favorite color?" He did tell me that with skating he just wants to slurp up the surrounding and do like eight tricks in a row. "It's without rules. There are so many choices. I mean, really your canvas is more limited with surfing and snowboarding, but with skateboarding there is so much freedom....Surf videos are always blue, snowboard videos are always white. Not skate videos." I've thought about that every day since. I also started thinking how I don't have one favorite color anymore.

A few kind of terrible things happened this week. I didn't start off this story by listing them off because they aren't at the front of my mind like they maybe should be. I'm just not finding time to be sad these days. One of my podcasts reported this week that depression isn't sexy and I laughed; how true. I'm enjoying Avalon so much I don't even miss surfing most days. I never go to bed before eleven, so at seven when she wakes up, I am usually still exhausted, but the second I hear her I can't wait to hold her. It always seems like it's been too long.

Bad thing number one that happened this week: The top of our 50 foot canary palm blew off and landed directly on the mirror of a Jetta and our white picket fence. That could have been a lot worse though. When I think about how Avalon and I were sitting in the very spot it fell last week, I just kind of nod up at the sky and swallow hard. 

Bad thing number two: My middle sister and her boyfriend broke up.

Bad thing number three: Our family boat sank Sunday in the storm. We've had that boat since I was nine.

I want to write more about the boat and what it's meant in my family's life, but I'm just not ready to yet. Maybe I'm not ready to say goodbye.

I decided to redo our bedroom instead. My mom gave us a white quilt and shams that she didn't need anymore and I decided that even though there was nothing wrong with the way our bedroom was, we needed a change. I wanted it to be lighter in there, and simpler. I went on an absolute tear one day and took out all the scattered seashells except for one, then re-painted the bench at the foot of the bed blue and the back wall white. Then I swapped out Scott's nightstand, repositioned the bookshelf in the main living room and sewed curtains for the bottom shelf out of a drop cloth I once used as a tablecloth at Friendsgiving.I had to cut the curtains around pictures of obscene things that my friends (Stephanie) drew in sharpie after a few glasses of wine. I ordered a linen duvet cover in "flax" for the comforter. 

Scott's general approach to renovations is more like: Slow and steady, quality over quantity. Mine is some sort of ripoff of the Nike slogan: you don't have to be a psycho about it, just do it.

The podcast I was listening to during all of this also reported the following quote, which I wrote down in my journal immediately:

"If you have dark luck, then your job is to find some glimmer in it" ~Edna O'Brien 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Troll Under the Golden Gate Bridge


{two journal entries from my trip to San Francisco last weekend for Basia's birthday}

SAN FRANCISCO Friday, January 22nd, 2016

I don’t know why I’ve had bad luck traveling to San Francisco lately, but here I am again, heading north on an airplane thinking: this trip will be hard, but this trip will be beautiful (please, let it be beautiful).

My first flight was cancelled and now this flight has been delayed four hours. I’m sitting with my seatbelt fastened watching videos on my phone of Nicole and Kate and Nell and Steph surprising Basia for her birthday instead of being there to pop out to surprise (scare) her myself with the troll mask I stuffed into the overhead compartment. It is what it is, right? That statement comes in handy a lot. It always reminds me of my mom and how Scott’s Aunt Liz remembered my mom saying it when she was sweeping up a broken heirloom the day after our wedding was at my parent’s house.

You know how going the the grocery store or to Target or to the mall is way more fun with someone else? I love going to the doctor's with people. At least if you have something terrible happen, like when Maddie heard she was going to have to go to three doctor's appointments each week during her chemo treatments, you have someone to laugh with when you see something crazy like a sleeping man banging his head over and over again against the waiting room wall while he snores.

I wish Scott was here with me on this airplane so he could have laughed when I said “Oh, look! They do have ice!” to the lady next to me who absolutely did not hear me. Or when I dropped the cap to my water bottle and it rolled three isles away and wedged under the bare foot of a sleeping seven foot dude hanging his legs into the isle.

Scott is staying at home with Avalon this weekend while my college roommates and I visit Basia at her house in San Francisco. He was so excited about his daddy/daughter weekend, I couldn’t convince him to come no matter how hard I tried (I even replaced the words “of the year” with “to go to San Francisco” in the song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and sang it for three days). This is my first time traveling without Avalon. I mean, obviously I traveled without her before she was created, but I’m totally going to be one of those people and say it seems like I can’t remember what life was like before she was here. But is that really true? No. I have a really good memory, it’s one of my longest standing gifts, and I remember distinctly what I was like as a seven year old and a ten year old and a fifteen year old and on and on. But even at all of those ages, I dreamed of being a mom, and now that I really am one and I get to use the public changing table and have a real diaper bag, there’s no going back. I don’t want to. I’m happiest when I think about how I get to be a mom forever. And I want to be a mom wherever I go. But, well, this weekend is about Scott being a dad. And this weekend is about celebrating Basia and friendships that last. And I can still be a mom while all of this is going on. And, best of all…I get to be a mom who drinks a few cocktails and sleeps in.

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

I’m home. All my fears about not being able to function without my family turned out to be just as dramatic and untrue as that time I thought a cat was going to kill me in my front yard. When I left for college, I found an extension of my family in Stephanie, Kate, Nell, Nicole and Basia and that’s still the case now.

The hardest part of the trip was when Basia’s back went out after brunch and she could barely walk home.

The most beautiful parts of the trip were meeting Nicole’s son, drinking pig flavored beer at brunch (described on the menu as “smoked bacon flavor”), talking until 4:30 a.m. while sharing an air mattress with Steph, walking the color wall alley with Kate, Nell, Bash and Phil that had at least 40 colorful murals, taking polaroid pictures with the troll head, pumping in the airport mother’s room with Nell and nursing Avalon in her carseat on the way home.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Walks and Waves


I do something every morning that I haven't done since high school. I put on makeup. I barely ever used to bother because I liked the "natural" look and I knew I was going to surf at some point, so it would be a waste to spend time showering or putting on something that was inevitably going to wash away. 

That was before, when I was tanner and had beach blonde hair and a more toned stomach. It's actually kind of nice waking up, showering quickly and singing songs to Avalon while I brush both of our hair and then put blush and mascara on myself. If anyone was to come to the door before 10:00 a.m., I wouldn't even have to army crawl past the front window to put clothes on and brush my teeth.

Lately, the waves have been as big as houses. It's exciting, especially when watching from the beach, but also occasionally frustrating when I want to paddle out on the weekends and I have to wrestle with the waves and my confidence. 

I try to be nice to everyone when I'm surfing. Or, at the very least, I try to keep to myself.  But I surf a lot less than I used to; the color of my hair tells that story itself. So when I'm out, I'm on a mission. Like a dog chasing a tennis ball. 

Two weekends ago I wasn't surfing too well and the surf was terrible. This dude got in my way twice and then looked right at my eyes as he dropped in on me on the only good wave I got. My anger crawled right out of my throat. Except, instead of saying anything coherent or quick-witted like Don Draper or some other well scripted anti-hero, I said something completely moronic and irrational. "I have to go! And I've barely been out here! That was supposed to be my last wave and it was a good one and now I have to paddle back out and get another one and I know it's going to be crappy!"

My parents and Scott and Maddie and Andy all thought this was equally funny and ridiculous. Andy said that maybe he was too afraid to surf with me now.  

Every evening, rain or shine or gigantic ocean waves, Avalon and I walk to the beach. We listen to music out loud on my phone. I hold it near her and say things like "Zee Avi, she's good. "

It's funny to me how much this time period is similar to my experience of high school. There are so many of us probably feeling the same things while we're doing the same thing: watching the sunset, and yet we don't even say hi to each other. I'm trying put more confidence into my 'hellos'. Even if someone doesn't say hi back, like this one Scroogey old lady who literally had a banner that said "Spread Love and Joy to All!" in her window even though she practically spit on me when I walked by, it's still worth it. Sometimes, at some point on our walk, I end up feeling bad for myself even though these walks are one of the best things I've ever done. Almost every day I invite someone to come with me and no one can ever go. So it's just Avalon and me and the music and the sunset. But maybe that's the way I want it anyway.

I see people on their way home from work, pulling into their driveways and I wonder who's waiting for them once they get in the door. 

We watch the huge waves explode on the outer reefs, then rush onto the beach, taking more sand away with them. I miss the feeling of nature pressing against me; the way it feels when a wave crashes on your head or what it's like having the whole ocean beneath your feet. It's kind of like the ocean and I have somewhat of a long distance relationship now. But as I walk Avalon along the beach each evening in her carrier, nature is pressing against me in a different way I love even more.

Monday, January 11, 2016

El Niño y La Niñas



January 6th, 2016


Dear Sprout,


It’s been raining for days. I am so happy I can say that. It’s an El Niño year. I’m happy to say that too. This summer was miserable hot. Ants invaded. I basically only wore shorts and a nursing top around the house and I was still overheating, even at two a.m. You never wore any of the newborn footy pajamas you got. I remember enjoying it only because it would make the winter, if it ever came back, that much better. I also thought that it would add great dramatic appeal to the stories I would tell about the summer you were born. “I felt like we were even getting tan inside and almost all the kelp beds died. Maybe because they got cooked in the ocean," I could hear myself exaggerating some day. I remember your Nonny saying that she would never forget the summer Aunt Danielle was born, not just because of dear baby Danielle with her happy smile and round head, but because it was the hottest summer of her life. She told me that she and I and the new baby would just lay upstairs on her big, cloud-of-a-bed with the air-conditioning on all day. It sounded special, even though I don’t remember it at all.

Today there is lightening and thunder and a small sleeping baby with peas under her finger nails. I’ve been letting you try to feed yourself lately. As if I wasn’t already cleaning the kitchen like a busgirl, now I basically have to wash the whole thing every time you put your hand on a spoon. But you're "exploring food" and for a few minutes a day it makes me feel like a mom from a parenting book to allow you to do so. It’s also really amusing watching you lick smashed banana off your knuckles while you kick your feet with delight.

Yesterday is was so dark and rainy that your baby monitor was on night vision mode even for your 1 p.m. nap. The dial on the monitor turns red if there’s a loud noise in your room, such as scream-crying, but it was turning red just now because of a clash of thunder. But the baby sleeps through. Some people are calling it “The 50 year storm.” How exciting. Even as destructive and inconvenient as weather events can be, I still love being a part of them. It makes me feel kind of like it’s my birthday and my gifts are astonishingly dark clouds and the national news coming to a small riverbed nearby. There is so much anticipation, so much attention, but only for a minute and then it's on to the next storm. It’s also nice as a mom home with a new baby that something is going on right outside your windows and you don’t even have to spend 36 minutes packing the car to see it.



On New Year's Day our friends Ross and Jenny came over with their three month old son. Ross said he was envious of his baby son. I nodded because I figured he meant for all the obvious reasons: babies get to take long naps, be carried around, play whenever they want and go to the bathroom without having to stop what they're doing, but he said, “They get to see everything for the first time.” Of course.

There is something to be said for being witness to you seeing things for the first time too. 

Avalon Wild, you were born in an El Niño year and together we loved it.

Love,
Mama
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