Monday, January 30, 2012

Chapter One: Bare Feet and Bubble Gum

One of our first dates was to a Padre's game. Photo circa 2005
I’ve known my husband for seven years now and somehow everything and nothing seems crazy about Scott being my husband. When I think of the fact that ten years ago I was eating my lunch alone in the stacks of my high school library wondering if I would ever meet anyone beyond my family who would truly know me, everything about it seems crazy. But when I think about how nature is the avenue we both use to understand this world, how living life and loving our families are our first priorities and how we both enjoy simple pleasures like riding bikes, drinking beer and eating burritos (and apparently things that start with the letter b), nothing seems crazy about it.
         We met down by the beach, as you might have imagined. We were at a mutual friend’s birthday party located in the small garage of a weathered beach house. There was a keg of beer, a ping pong table and about ten other party guests mostly frat guys engaged in drinking games. It was a clear, invigorating January night and damp salty wind snuck through the cracks in the garage. I was in my sophomore year at The University of San Diego and he was in his at San Diego State. Our interests weren’t too far off from what they are now.
     The first thing I noticed about him was his face. I think I lost my breath a little when he walked in, even though I pretended not to notice him. The second thing I noticed was that he wasn’t wearing any shoes, despite the cold. One of the first things he noticed about me was my wetsuit tan. The contrast between my tan hands and white winter arms was pretty obvious and proved to be the perfect topic for our first conversation.
     A few minutes after Scott and his roommate Mark arrived, my roommate Kate and I got a phone call letting us know that our friend was having a party at his house out by San Diego State. We prepared to leave, but in order to exit the garage we would have to walk by Scott and his roommate Mark, who were nonchalantly standing in the doorway.  
     Mark was tall and had thick brown curls that fell around his happy face. He stood about two or three inches taller than Scott who I estimated to be around six feet tall. Scott had short sand colored hair and a narrow build all the way up to his shoulders, which were broad. His torso reminded me of an upside down triangle. As I passed him we made eye contact. He said hi, and I, pretending to have just noticed him, said hi back. His eyes were gold and green and kind. They looked like eyes that saw the good in the world and held onto it.
     After a few minutes of talking, he reached down and gently clasped my wrist in his right hand, lifting it closer to his eyes. He made a cute remark about how I must be a surfer to have such awesome tan lines, but just as we got to talking about surfing, my other friends pulled up in the alley to take Kate and I out to SDSU. Scott asked where we were going and I quickly explained that we were headed to a party out at State. He had miraculously heard of the same party and, although he and Mark had a fun night of burning CD’s planned (a detail I learned later), he said they would try to meet up with us and took my number.
         Scott called about an hour later. I was too nervous to answer and threw my phone at my friend Stephanie who kindly answered and explained where we were and how to get there. When he arrived at the party, I’m not even sure I went to the door to greet him and the three roommates he had brought along, either because I was too nervous or I was trying to act cool (probably both). I found him soon after and we sat on the couch. People around us were drinking straight out of wine bags and dancing to pop music, but I couldn’t tell you much else about the party since Scott had captured my focus. I had gum in my mouth and kept blowing bubbles (nerves again. That, or I was just an obnoxious college girl) as our conversation jumped from surfing to school to life. He made a comment about my gum.
**Please brace yourself for my corniest/craziest/creepiest (but most successful) pickup line ever.
And I said, “I bet I can blow a bubble in your mouth.” I did. And then we kissed for three hours until his roommates pulled him away to go home. No lie.
      Kissing him made every part of me feel alive. We were simply drawn to each other like opposing magnets. I felt as though we kept kissing to hold on to the happiness we found in one another. I felt I could see through him to something pure and exceptional; to something awakening that I’d never encountered in any other experience in my life.
     I went to sleep that night with three of my roommates in a queen size bed lying awake not because of discomfort, but because every part of who I was had been awakened. 

I took Scott to my sorority formal a few months after we met. Like his hair do? Thank you.
The summer after we met Scott brought me on his family trip to the lake. It was a big step.
But it went well. I can be charming when I try.
And the rest is history, but I'll let you in on it some time, even though I'm pretty sure you know the outcome.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The West Indies- Wind Writing Chapter 3: The Perfect Failure

     We survived the eight hour sail and arrived at a quaint, protected anchorage in the late hours of the afternoon.

     We motored through the channel slowly as I stood on the front of the boat poised to perform my duties as second mate. These duties involved fairly simple tasks like securing the boat on its mooring ball. I took my assignment seriously, though, ever eager to prove myself as a worthy water girl. I used to be first mate, but now that Scott, who was a former sailing teacher, was part of the crew I had been bumped to second mate. That was a well and fine, but I wasn't about to screw it up. 

     As we pulled into the harbor my attention was momentarily caught by a beautiful peeling wave just outside of it. Scott noticed it too. After the boat was secured we headed over to the break in our inflatable dinghy.

     It was beautiful and we were the only ones out, but the best waves eluded me. They jumped around breaking up the point, breaking outside of me or breaking on my head. I felt this probing and unnecessary need to prove myself by finding the better waves this swell and spot were offering. Time for this objective had run out, though. The sun was setting and it was time to go in. Scott had found the perfect waves, and I was happy for him, really, I was, but I couldn't help but want the same for myself.

     The next morning I awoke with one goal in mind: to prove that I could find and ride that perfect wave. Scott wanted to body surf and offered to document my hopeful journey. But the ocean, for the most part, wasn’t having it. I couldn’t figure out where to sit in the line up and the set waves broke either in front of me or to the side of me.  For most of the session I could only catch the medium sized waves that petered out in the channel. Finally, after about an unsuccessful hour of wave hunting, the wave that seemed to be running from me during my time here came right to me. My mind quickly flashed over the details of the scenario- the beautiful location, the warm day, some of my favorite audience members watching from the channel, my husband with the camera poised to capture me riding this perfect wave.

As I got to it I realized I would be taking off late.

"That's ok" I thought. "I have to make this wave because I want it so badly." I don't know why I told myself this though, this kind of pressure rarely seems to work for me.

     I committed to the wave as I paddled, I was taking this wave no matter what. I pushed myself up, found my feet and planted them in my wax. The wave hit me in the back so I held onto my rail to keep my balance. It felt like being under a waterfall. "Keep going" I told myself. "Don't fall!" and then I didn't. Listen to myself, that is. As I began to stand the wave conquered me and I was head over heals and swimming. In this natural washing machine disappointment seem to conquer me too.

    When I surfaced I wore my frustration on my face. My dad saw it, which only made things worse. He didn't understand how I could come out of the water unhappy and he had told me this many times before. He didn't see the point in me trying to prove myself to myself. I got that, but it didn't stop me from trying to do it. I just hadn't matured past that objective yet. That was very apparent in this moment. 

This isn't that big of a deal I tried to convince myself as I paddled. Keep it together! Adding my usual guilt trip go to: Think of all the suffering people without food. Your situation is not sad!

    It wasn't. It wasn't even remotely close to being as sad as 99.9% of other problems, but what I saw as failure upset me nevertheless.

"Let's go!" my dad called from the dinghy in the channel, waving his hand for me to hurry over. "It's getting windier and the crossing will be that much harder now." I felt myself sweating even though I was in the water. 

   I had surfed longer than I should have.  As I pictured my mom and sisters swaying in the rough seas I stacked selfishness on top of the disappointment sandwich I seemed to be building. And then the tears came, washing away all of my previous attempts at reasoning.

    When we returned to our sailboat in the harbor I began to pack my surfboard away in our board bag on the top of the boat. The wind whipped the boat's halyards into a howling frenzy as I did so and then came to harass me. The gust knocked my surfboard over and slightly dinged its rail. It was getting windier and my extra surf time would now potentially put us into rougher seas for our next sail. With all the problems weighing on me I couldn’t help but laugh, just a little, because sometimes your own failure can be so perfect. 

Photos by Danielle Holloway and Scott DeMint

Trip Tale Index:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The West Indies- Wind Writing Chapter 2: This Isn't a Vacation...

Rough seas.

That's about all I could write in my journal as we sailed through them on the third day of our West Indies sailing trip.We had been sailing south now for two days, but our previous voyage was much more peaceful. 

     The whole family sat outside on the back of the boat we chartered and even though the choppy seas caused problems that threatened the quality of our boat's interior, no one attempted to attend to them at this point for fear of seasickness.

    Seasickness while at sea wasn't something you recovered from easily. Most of us already felt it and one of us demonstrated it, but the sounds of their sickness were muffled by the crashing plates and cups that flew from the kitchen cabinets and shattered on the wood floor inside. 

     The conditions we sailed in were created by "Christmas Winds", a local had warned. These reinforced trade winds occurred in the Caribbean during the winter months and were caused by a high pressure system in the Atlantic colliding with a low pressure system in the southern Caribbean. 

    Today we had to sail 45 nautical miles to our destination, easily an eight hour sail. The classic time travel question "are we there yet?" wasn't something you considered asking because you knew we weren't even close and the true distance from our destination was too discouraging to be aware of. This was the longest sail of the trip. The following days would only include two to three hour sails from one harbor to the next.

    This wasn't a vacation though, this was an adventure and mixed in with all the chaos were the breath stealing moments; the ones you looked back on when times were heavier. I would hold on to the feeling I got watching the sail catch the wind. It was like watching fire works go off for the first time. I would hold on to the feeling of experiencing nature's gifts with my family. When my stomach had settled, I wrote in my journal: these are the memories that matter.  

Christmas wind information source: the Caribbean Weather Center 

<< Chapter 1-The Start                                                         Chapter 3-Perfect Failure >>

Monday, January 23, 2012

Following the Leader

One of the best things you can do for a person is lead them to the things that they love. 
Thank you dad for leading me to surfing. 
Thank you surfing for leading me to a closer relationship with my dad. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The West Indies- Wind Writing: Chapter 1

     We left the airport in a long white taxi van with a humming engine. My father, the captain, in the front seat, my mother, the supporter, in the middle seat next to my sister Danielle, the giver. Behind them, Maddie sat in a bucket seat. I saw her as the comforter. Then there was Scott, my husband and the eternal optimist. At this point I felt I was the dreamer, writing my story with the hope that someday it would mean something.

    So far the landscape seemed similar to others I've explored. Banana trees lined the thin asphalt road that wound through tropical mountains. Families overflowed the beds of pickup trucks, houses wore bright paint and the people bright clothing.

     The tropics were familiar to us all as our parents had chosen them as a vacation destination throughout our life. But new lessons would emerge slowly as we traveled, like the evaporating water rising from the rain soaked roads we drove over on this first day. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Golden Moments

One perk of living in Southern California, I guess you could say, is your close proximity to numerous Tinsel Town events and the colorful celebrities who attend them. On Saturday my mom, sisters and I (there was no way I was getting Scott to come along, believe me I tried!) met my Aunt and cousin up in LA for some quality star gazing- Hollywood style. Although we made our best attempt to look nice and fit in we were almost immediately directed to the fan section upon entering the Beverly Hilton Hotel, site of the Golden Globes. What's that quote? "A place for everything, and everything in its place". Yes, that's the one. So we were in our rightful place, the fan section, which was perfectly fine as we ended up getting to "meet" (beg for a photo from) some great characters.

Seth Rogen
Kate Beckinsale
Channing Tatum
On Sunday I had my golden moment, in the place where I really belong. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Good Hair Day

I'm going to share the story of our whole West Indies sailing trip with you starting next week. I don't even know where to begin with sharing the footage collected, however, since we took over 3,000 pictures and videos. This video may seem a very odd place to start considering it is a largely over exposed look at a pretty uneventful moment. To me it is significant though, because we couldn't have done this trip without helping each other. 
This is a video of my dad brushing my sister Maddie's tangled hair. Her hair turned into a matted mess from the humidity and water time (and frankly, I don't think she had brushed it at all). 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Look Back at 2011

On New Years eve I tried to remind myself that the start of a New Year is a good thing, an exciting thing, but, considering the fact that I hate change and enjoyed 2011 so much I felt a little sad as we counted down the last seconds of it. 
2011 was big! It was busy! It was one of the most monumental years of my/our life so far (do the exclamation marks really hit my point home?)!
We got married, we moved in together, we traveled, I quit my job. 
And there were other things too. 
In January we finished our family vacation/surf excursion to Samoa and I decided I needed to be less fearful and challenge myself to try things (both in surfing and in life) that I wasn't as comfortable with. 
We also celebrated 7 years of being best friends. 
In March I wrote a poem about prospering in your life, speaking largely to myself, but didn't have much other time to write. This made me sad and got me thinking about what I really wanted and needed to do in life. 
In the spring we camped with friends and celebrated our birthdays (and most of our families'). We also continued to plan our big day.
In June I enjoyed some special wedding showers and a wildly fun bachelorette party. 
Oh ya, and I quit my job (although I still manage properties, but I quit the main one) after realizing there was no time like right now to follow my heart (plus, doing so allowed me to give myself points for trying something I was afraid of). I also began to realize that putting too much weight on the opinions of others was holding me back. 
In early July Scott enjoyed a mobile Bachelor party with 5 buddies. They took a camper van up the California coast in search of waves. This picture alone tells a good story, if you ask me.
Late July came around and so did our friends and family. It was time to celebrate. Not just that though, it was time make a promise to each other that we would keep forever. It was time to become Mr. and Mrs., to become a family. And so we did. It felt more right than anything I've ever done before. It was the first change in my life I didn't reject on any level.
One day really isn't long enough considering all the planning that goes into it. Does anyone else agree? But it was perfect. It was so real and yet so surreal at the same time. Some moments time moved so slowly that I even noticed details like the happy lines next to Scott's eyes when he smiled. Other moments I couldn't remember what I had eaten and who I had talked to. 
Then it was all over, the wedding that is, and our marriage started with a trip to Thailand. It was exotic and relaxing. Plus we scored some fun waves
In August we also traveled to Vancouver (from Thailand) for our friend's wedding and then to New York and Boston to move our sisters into college. It was incredible, but by the end of it all I was in need of some serious down time.
In September Scott started teaching again (and got stitches in his lip from surfing). I started trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life. I wrote some articles for surf magazines and began re-building my blog, in an attempt to set my dreams in motion. 
Southern California surf was red by day and glowing blue at night thanks to an extended stay from the red tide. 
Scott enjoyed snapping some photos.
In October we had some great weather and memorable surf sessions. We also celebrated a special friend's birthday!
In November I road tripped to San Francisco to visit friends. Scott flew in to meet me on the weekend. On Sunday a bucket list item was checked off for us both as we watched Kelly Slater win his 11th world title in person (all thanks to a points miscalculation that allowed us be there). At the end of the month we celebrated a very special Thanksgiving with the DeMint's. I also got 7 stitches after falling at a children's playground. Really?
December arrived. We prepared for Christmas and threw a party! Scott enjoyed two weeks of work and two weeks off (yay!). I cleaned house, both physically and mentally. 
We left Christmas day for a new adventure, traveling with my side of our family to sail the West Indies for two weeks. I plan to post a story from the trip each Wednesday starting next week. 
And there you have it, one great big year summed up just like that (or was that like really long? Maybe no one is even reading this still...). 
It is sad for me to see it end because I hate when good things are over, but I have to be thankful that these memories happened at all. And I am. I really, really am because these memories, the adventures shared with family and friends, are the kind you keep forever. 

*A special thanks to all of you who made this year of our lives so special!