Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Look Back at 2016

was wandering the streets of my neighborhood with Avalon in some transportation device, as I usually do at dusk, thinking about how I had maybe missed my period when a song came on my phone singing "Life will never get easy, but baby it's gonna get good." And that was all I needed to quiet my mind so that I could notice the dogs twinkle by with their humans toting small, crinkly bags as the sun turned the sky from grey to magenta and then back to blue.

I read something the other day on my friend's instagram that said New Year's Eve is like the buttcrack of the holidays. I didn't appreciate the visual, but I couldn't help feeling like my feelings about Christmas and a whole year of hard work, struggles and accomplishments coming to an end were validated.

This year Avalon's hair turned from brown to blonde. There was an election. There was chemotherapy and a party for Maddie when it was successful and over. There was fading barbecue smoke. There were brightening lights, numbing waters, sinking boats, broken trees, drifting kelp beds, visitors, lost GoPro Cameras, speeding tickets, new friends, new boards, bruised egos, changed minds, pictures of most of it, more sleep, more messes, and 365 sunsets. Of course, that isn't all.

January. I took my first trip without the baby to San Francisco for Basia's birthday wearing a troll mask. While the El Nino weather mostly hit northern California, we did see some signs of it here. One particular storm that caused our canary palm tree to fall on the neighbor's car, sunk our family boat the same day. 
February. After taking the trip up north without Avalon, I felt brave enough to try skateboarding again. I haven't stopped since. With Maddie in the middle of her chemo treatment and chaos erupting around us, I started feeling like I needed a sign that it wasn't all downhill from here. That my childhood dread that adulthood was going to suck way more wasn't true. I felt like I was beginning to question and lose sight of everything I knew until a quiet morning when the baby slept and the drapes danced.

March. Even with the dancing drapes and the warming weather and the crawling, laughing baby, my mind always felt like it was with Maddie. She began sharing some of her stories here so others could understand her experience. Scott and Avalon and I took a trip to the desert with friends. My dreams let me escape from some the the continued chaos around my family. And this quote... "Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have loved to swim." by Tyler Knott Gregson gave me perspective. 
May. I wrote a letter to Avalon and a poem about the wilderness that we named her after.
June. We saw Iron and Wine in concert. They only played their new album, a cardinal sin if there ever was one. Maybe I packed up my frustration about that and brought with me to Texas where I threw an ice cube at a DJ. Back on the home front I found the tool I needed so Basia and I could bead necklaces and we had a party to celebrate Maddie's last chemo treatment. 
August. We drove up north to Eureka to hide in the mountain hills from internet service and the government with Aunt Liz, Uncle Thomas, Basia and Phil. I talked story about surfing (what's new?) and wrote about critics and artists.
October. Halloween, another letter to a very present baby, another water story. Maddie shared the third and fourth chapters to her cancer story.
November. I noticed that after all the difficulties and newness this year had brought,  I was actually excited that my life had changed. Then we went to Santa Cruz.
And now it's December and it's cold and bright. 

I have two conflicting feelings. One is that there is never enough time for everything and the other is that there is just enough. I am so glad and grateful, I am. But there have been times this year where I heard songs playing and I felt like I could only hear the sad instruments, the low keys on the piano predicting the worst. But not now. Not this month that resoundingly punctuates a year where one of the very smallest and best of us beat the odds; stood right in the face of death and darkness and cried and wept and then kept going.

There are some days, many that I had within the bookends of this year, where we feel like we are held together by string and other people and some days we know that if none of that was there we could still find something to laugh about.

When we were walking into the hospital to visit Maddie after she got hot-tub folliculitis we had a cooler full of beer and wine to watch The Bachelorette and the whole thing tipped, ice and Pacificos clambering on the Purell soaked floors, right in front of the security guard and we all just started laughing hysterically.

So here we are, on the eve of a year with a lucky seven, with so many feelings and hopes and plans and spill-able drinks. When I was out surfing I thought about how life kind of ends up seasoning us like a wok or a cast-iron skillet.

And then I think: life will always be exactly as good as it is now, only more so.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas Memories

Yesterday, on our walk home from the park, I pointed out how the wind was blowing from the north to Avalon, who was huddled into her stroller under a fleece blanket with pink cheeks. "A storm's coming," I told her, like we were standing on the bow of an old ship looking for Moby Dick.  

The full moon was rising up in the pink sky right behind the hill to the east of us. I thought about that line from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs that says the sun looked like a giant pat of butter on top of a mashed potato hill. 

Today Scott called me on his lunch break and told me he was on his way to Chipotle. I started chanting "Norovirus. Norovirus" over and over again. "Stop chanting Norovirus!" he said. He's had it once before so he knows the true difficulty that is trying to ride the train home or replanting the backyard for a baby shower while suffering from a food borne illness. I just really wanted him to have a good (non-life threatening) reason to stay home and be taken care of.

Last year he sprained his ankle getting his leg caught in his pajamas and then stepping on an uneven surface. He had to use "GoToMeeting" and then we went to the doctor to get crutches and watched Christmas with the Kranks while it rained. I think sometimes we are, I am, guilty of thinking that it's the big Christmas at Disneyland/Walking in a Winter Wonderland/White Christmas moments that can really make the season memorable, when the truth is it's the Christmas Vacation style moments where the turkey is as moist as a tumbleweed and you sing The Star Spangled Banner as a your decorations go up in flames that really cement the memories in your mind. 

Dave told me that last year he was in Puerto Rico staying with our friends Choley and Hayden who were collecting food stamps and going to grad school. Money was tight and stress was high. On Christmas night "Baller accidentally spilled Choley's beer and they were both screaming in each other's faces. They resolved the issue in five minuets and we found a Wallgreens that was open and were burning the roofs of our mouths on DiGiorno oven pizzas at 11pm for xmas dinner." It was just fine; perfect, even. 

We're still mid holiday season, so there's plenty of time for memories to be imprinted (burned?) in our minds, but in case I can't remember everything from this year I want to write down my favorites so far. 

+I walk Avalon to the park listening to Christmas music and remodeling all the homes we pass in my mind. 

+I work on Christmas gifts at night while we watch Gilmore Girls and Veep

+The other night I laughed a laugh just like my Nonny’s, which filled up some of the emptiness from her not being here anymore for her favorite holiday. 

+Avalon says “Daadaaa" and "Maaamaa" so long and enunciated, sometimes with an excited gasp just before either comes out. 

+When she sits down anywhere she taps the spot next to her and says "Mama" coyly so I'll sit next to her (I'll always sit next to you bug).

+We dried oranges for some of our ornaments this year. It was fun, all natural and made me feel like a real homesteader, but I occasionally glance over and wonder if our tree merely looks like it's festooned with trash.

+In the morning the heater comes on and I bring Avalon into bed. She does a nursing gymnastics routine, nearly crawling right out of her footy pajamas and then bursting out of the top like superman in a phone booth.

+We play with the train Scott's grandpa gave us that Scott and his sisters used to play with as kids. Avalon turns up the crank to high every time. I was doing one of my sweetest performances of  O' Christmas Tree as I tidied up the living room one night and went to turn off the Christmas tree lights. I accidentally kicked the train off it tracks and interrupted my song by saying "Oh S&*t". Then I laughed. 

What are some of your favorite holiday memories from this year? Any funny stories ?