...and missing Lavinia and naps in the sunshine!
my walls are empty and a minty green color. my canvas of old polaroids leans in the corner on the floor. my old ticket stubs are yellowed (making death cab look ages old). i'm sleeping with white sheets and my old duck blanket. in my closet hang only the clothes i brought with me from seattle. i've so many literal and not-so-literal blank canvases in my possession right now. i've got so many ideas in my head right now. i've got exactly what i need, once again.
Sunny day in December. A beautiful one.
"Building a museum case and filling it with types of mussels is one way of knowing mussels; but on the shore, a mussel leads to a crab or a curious stone, which leads to another thing and eventually leads back to mussels, which is another and perhaps a more far-reaching way to know mussels. The sea that always seems like a metaphor, but one that is always moving, cannot be fixed, like a heart that is like a tongue that is like a mystery that is like a story that is like a border that is like something altogether different and like everything at once. One thing leads to another, and this is the treasure that always runs through your fingers and never runs out. "
--Rebecca Solnit, Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics
Love shone not from her face only, but from all her limbs, as if it were some liquid in which she had just been bathing.
I've thought all day about Sarah Smith, and I want to follow suit.
I'll take bits and pieces of what Lewis said about her, the pieces I think most pertinent to my point and show you what I mean.
"Some kind of procession was approaching us, and the light came from the persons who composed it. If I could remember their singing and write down the notes, no man who read that score would ever grow sick or old. Between them went musicians: and after these a lady in whose honour all this was being done. Only partly do I remember the unbearable beauty of her face.
'Is it?...is it?' I whispered to my guide.
'Not at all,' said he. 'It's someone ye'll never have heard of. Her name was Sarah Smith and she lived at Golders Green.'
'She seems to be...well, a person of particular importance?'
'Aye. She is one of the great ones. Ye have heard that fame in this country and fame on Earth are two quite different things.'
'And who are all these young men and women on each side?'
'They are her sons and daughters.'
'She must have had a very large family, Sir.'
'Every young man or boy that met her became her son--even if it was only the boy that brought the meat to her back door. Every girl that met her was her daughter.'
'Isn't that a bit hard on their parents?'
'No. There are those that steal other people's children. But her motherhood was of a different kind. Those on whom it fell went back to their natural parents loving them more. Few men looked on her without becoming, in a certain fashion, her lovers. But it was the kind of love that made them not less true, but truer, to their own wives.'
I looked at my Teacher in amazement.
'Yes,' he said. 'It is like when you throw a stone into a pool, and the concentric waves spread out further and further. Who knows where it will end? Redeemed humanity is still young, it has hardly come to its full strength. But already there is joy enough in the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life.'"
To be walking, breathing, speaking love. Truly as I was created to be. Truly as an Image-bearer called forth from clay to movement. To move men to love their wives better. To remind children why they adore their parents. Oh, but I can't do this on my own.
Monitor my thoughts, oh Lord, and tend to my heart.
"If I visit the queen, I must be clean to-day!"
And so grows my love for the beautiful Regina Maria. With her poetry and tender-heartedness and love for all things good she has won my most earnest affection. I may give it a re-read or four before I have to return it to the library it calls home.
"For those who thirst: water!
For the weary: rest!
Peace to the heavy-laden!
Hope unto the beginners of life!"
Something I will remember fondly about spending my college years in Seattle is the multitude of southbound trips. Quick, night trips to Tacoma. Weekends in Portland. Long treks home to Southern California. Every one has been a milestone marker, a celebration, a broken-heart-remedy. Cheers to this next one.
November welcomed us with rain to-day. (A loud, enthusiastic welcome that beat down on the skylights and made the sidewalks extra slippery.) Altogether beautiful, altogether sufficient for itself.
This lyric has been turning in my mind all day, "Lead me to the attic ladder, in the barn with broken floors, with your boots of Spanish leather and my hat knit out of yarn." The song itself I have heard only a handful of times, as performed by a talented and handsome young musician at open mic, but it has become familiar company--and, in thinking about it, there's something very beautiful in the simple way the artist frames this particular moment. It's something about his attention to detail, his glorifying the small things and holding fast to them.
I like learning about what people find precious.
Anyway, this lyric set itself as the background to my rainy day happenings.
It was streaming in through the rainy, rainy windows of the Suzzallo reading room as I looked up from my article to take in the rows and rows of antiquarian books and the heavy, grey clouds gathering outside.
And when I sat in the window nook at the coffee shop with Hannah, we reminisced about hearing good music echoing off the warm brick walls at Conor Byrne's and enjoyed each other's quiet company for the first time in a long time.
In my mailbox were two items, both for me: a postcard from Italy and a type-written letter from Romania. Gold. No bills, no junk mail, no bank statements from previous tenants.
I was humming the melody while I walked, but stopped somewhere between 1st and 2nd Ave. to fix my eyes on the most incredible, up-close view of Seattle's skyline. Thousands and thousands of illuminated windows. Puffs of cloud that made the Space Needle look like a busy chimney.
Danielle and I were sitting in her living room with our takeout and striped socks, talking politics and grad school and travel and childhood films. I kept thinking about how good life is. How good my friends are.
It stopped raining tonight, which provided such a quiet that while walking to the car I could hear the wind moving the leaves along the ground and it sounded like hundreds of hands applauding.
Thank you, sir musician, for helping me frame my happenings to-day.
In my life there is so much promise, which a precept I'm meditating on this week. What I can't keep from the forefront of my mind is that I have intimacy at my fingertips. My Abba and I are made for each other, and this week I'm consumed by curiosity and a hunger I haven't encountered in a long while. Maybe it's His hand again.
For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother's
I will praise You, for I am
fearfully and wonderfully
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very
My frame was not hidden from
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the
lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance,
being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of
How precious also are Your
thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they
would be more in number than
When I awake, I am still with
“And I will go on making small promises to myself in the meanwhile: I will walk every day in between the trees, I will make some celebration, I will love without fear, I will create beautiful things, I will be unafraid to fly, I will move and speak and live deliberately…My promises stretch out and out sometimes past the horizon of possibility, and often at the end of the day it seems I’ve never walked as far as I thought I could. I get discouraged and wake up tired in the morning. But I go on making promises, because the sunrise is so beautiful, and those three stars are still shining so brightly, and the birds are begining to sing, you can hear them even over the whine of the highway. In spite of myselfI feel the embers of hope and I think, well maybe I could make it just to the end of the road, after all.”
--excerpt from Off the Map
I had some well-spent hours with a fellow explorer last night, sharing adventure stories and pouring over guidebooks. Thank you, Nelly.
"That is why we need to travel. If we don't offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder. Our eyes don't lift to the horizon; our ears don't hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience, and we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting. We wake up one day and find that we have lost our dreams in order to protect our days. Don't let yourself become one of these people."
Kent Nerburn, Letters to My Son
Never, never, never.
It is going to be exceptionally hard to fly back to Seattle tomorrow. Home has been especially comforting and beautiful and good-for-the-soul this time around. I wish I could have just 1 or 2 more days to drink in this sweet time with the people I love most. My parents are like my lighthouse. My brother is growing up, and we are finding out that we have much more in common than blood. My dear grandparents have so many stories I still have to hear. My best friend is embarking upon a huge life adventure and I was able to dip into that, just barely, this weekend. I didn't know my eyes were so hungry for the faces I left in California, and I didn't know it would be so hard to leave them after what seemed like a perfectly alloted time period.
But I have good things to look forward to up north. My life is blessed and full.
I desire to do some things better this year:
Being a blessing to the girls in my house.
Exploring, like really exploring.
Working with dignity and gratitude.
Being on time.
Returning phone calls.
Digging into creativity.
Loving far away people.
Living very presently and attentively.
Writing. Writing. Writing.
After a night of reunions and laughing so hard we couldn't breathe, we gathered in a circle and prayed.
I looked around at us all; no longer living within an arm's length of each other, but gathered just the same to wish our dear Leni a happy birthday and love on Ashley & JP before their New Zealand adventure. Mmm, my soul delighted in my favourite company of 10 and the most beautiful, radiant newly married couple straight across from me. I loved hearing the different things we all had to lift up:
Dear Jesus, I am overwhelmed at how much you love us.
I'm overwhelmed at how much you've blessed me with the people standing in this circle.
Thank you for bringing us together.
I'm so happy thinking about the adventures we've shared, and the ones to come. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Lord, it's been an incredible journey.
Be with these two and keep them safe in New Zealand--also please bring them back to us.
These two are a light. I can't wait to see the impact they are going to make in their new community.
Thank you, Jesus, that this isn't the end.
Oh, I have the best friends in the world!
An incredible chapter of our lives, indeed.
I walked the length of the Royal Mile twice today. Edinburgh Castle. St. Giles Cathedral. Street performers. Waves and waves of tourists. Scottish Parliament Building. Tartan shops with names like, "Thistle Do Nicely." Holyrood Palace. At the end, I shook the tourist out of me and just wandered. (For a good couple of hours.) The guidebook I've been reading since June is so right: Edinburgh is a wanderer's paradise. Every street is storybook material, and at least eight times today I have done a double-take, walked back about ten paces to marvel at the thing that is the "close". (Advocates Close is my favourite.) They are tiny alleyways that lead off a main road, down a flight or two of stairs, and onto another main road, side street, or courtyard. For the incurably curious such as myself, this city satisfies like no-place else. Favourite find of the day: "The Old Children's Bookshelf" on Canongate off the Royal Mile. I spent a good hour and a half in this wonderful lady's shop, browsing (astonished, overwhelmed, hushed) through gorgeous, antique copies of books. Shirley is the only person I've ever talked to who has as much random knowledge of rare childrens books as I. Maybe this little shop is my 65-year-old self's destiny? Hope so.
On another note, I tried IRN-BRU today. This is the neon orange Scottish beverage that has so intrigued me for months and months and months. Is it orange-flavoured? Is it like candy? Is it really that bright? Okay, well. It tastes like bubble gum. Or does it? Either way, the Scots seem to love the stuff like it's divine nectar. I will give them credit for their funny ads, though. Hee.
So tired. Need to rest up and get me strength for to-morrow.
I just...my heart is overwhelmed.
Scotland is an incredible country with some of the warmest people I've come across. Also, thanks to the hundred plus hours I've spent listening to Scottish music, I have been well prepared for the accent. Except for Glaswegian. I have come across one or two little old men from Glasgow at bus stops who I simply could not understand. The lady is an embarrassment, but I thought this was a pretty funny example.
I've spent a few days in Edinburgh, taking a seaside break on Sunday for St. Andrews and the tiny fishing town of Crail. The train ride out from Edinburgh, over the Firth of Forth and through Fife was gorgeous. Baaaagh (a favorite exclamation), the past two days have just been incredible. The sheer nature of it all has completely floored my ability to capture just how magical this place is; whether it is with camera or pen, I am incapable.
I can't wait to tell you stories and show you photographs from this incredible place...once I get it together.
P.S. If you want to look like most Scottish girls you just have to wear lots of makeup, comb all your bangs over to one side, reach for your nearest Urban Outfitters catalog, and dress accordingly. No leather jacket? No tight denim pants that are actually the same fabric as pantyhose? Oops. Men, however, need just to take notes from him. I say!
"Robin Hood and Little John walkin' through the forest, oo-de-lally oo-de-lally..."
....stuck in my head all day as I'm walking through a fairly modern city. But I couldn't help it, because the streets had names like "Friar Lane" and "Maid Marian Way". It's not uncommon to see a very traditional English building next to an avante-garde, modern European business complex. The mix of architectural styles threw me off a bit at first, but I think it adds to its charm. Nottingham is historical, yes, but it is also a hub of England's intellectual advancement. At least, this is what the brochures for Nottingham Trent University told me (the real reason I was in Nottingham today, as big a fan of Robin Hood as I am). The university itself felt like SPU--not in its setup as much as in the way it falls short in comparison to other schools. It is a very good school, no doubt, but lacks the prestigious appeal that universities such as Cardiff and Edinburgh. It wouldn't hit me that I'm studying in the UK walking into their library--not quite like I've dreamed. But, I really like the city. It is definitely a university city much in the same way that Timisoara is for Romania; it carried the same air as I walked about.
So, I've spent a sum total of 8 hours on trains today, so I am going to bed to rest up for tomorrow's adventure.
P.S. The train attendants here like to call you things like "Love" and "Lovely" and "Dear" and "Darling" and "Sweetheart". I like them, especially the sweet lady on the way to Manchester Oxford Road who looks and sounds like Mrs. Potts.
Sycamore Gap along Hadrian's Wall, the piece my camera couldn't capture. Only the grass today was greener and the sky much more grey with about 20 minute intervals of sun. Altogether beautiful. Altogether good for the soul.
"Best let it go! It'll only go up!"- Man walking by me as I'm clutching my scarf and making my way through some windy wind.
"Best let it go! It'll only go up!"- Man walking by me as I'm clutching my scarf and making my way through some windy wind.
"Mind your toes, now. I'm not a very good driver." - Little old lady in a pub scooting past me with her walker.
Also, British greetings:
Hey-o. Hi-o. Thanks, hey. Mornin', hey! Afternoon, hey! Lovely day! Cheers.
Ohhh I just love it here. I thought about this all day.
Today I took a pink-and-purple-and-blue bullet train through the greenest countryside I've ever seen. There are crumbling old walls going every which way and clouds that hang so close to the earth you can feel them on your shoulders (in a good way).
Today I stepped off Platform 2 and into the Wilson Home on Warwick Road. I have a view of a nice yard of hydrangeas looking over a bowling green. (The grey team is really good).
Today I had the best scone of my life made by a dear woman at John Watt & Son. It seems every shop in Carlisle is owned by some somebody and their son(s).
Today I ran into about 8 people walking on the right side of the sidewalk. Keeping left is hard.
Today I paid in pounds and tuppence. A pair of hot pink shoes for £ 2, with which I will walk along Hadrian's Wall to-morrow.
Today's dinner was fish and chips with malt vinegar and garlic mayonnaise. When in Britain...
Did I mention my room is purple?
P.S. Camera photographs will have to wait until after the trip. I forgot my USB cable. Oops!
I love, love, love that it is raining on the seventh day in August. You can barely hear it; it's something like white noise. Looking out the window you see it fall in minuscule drops, a constant outflow like static. The smell mingles with the familiar scent of peppermint brewing in my tea--but today it is all the more befitting. I spend my grey afternoon planning a trip-for-one to the United Kingdom. Rail pass, notebook, prospectus, and guidebooks strewn about as I scribble down names of places that will soon become stories with photographs and journal entries and conversations; it's quite unreal.
Photo, Andy Monaghan
I have a whole box and about 10 digital files of unpublished photographs. A friend back home encouraged me to share what I capture, and I am only now starting to believe her. Why do I keep these things to myself? From now on, I will try to archive my adventures photographically. First, there is much catching up to do; I woke up this morning and uploaded an entire box of film photographs onto my computer. Here are some favorites from my post-graduation road trip home with Tia. And the rest you'll find conveniently displayed on Facebook.
Me: "Nani, what would you like to accomplish today?"
Nani: "I would like to build the Eiffel Tower out of legos."
And so it was.
What else? Umbrella forts, climbing fences, chewing mint leaves, and reading aloud during lunch. I am loving my days with the two newest additions to my schedule: Milo & Nani. The most wonderfully wreckless and adventurous pair of littles I know.
The incredible weather we're having.
Slowly acquiring a tan and some new freckles.
Friends; living in community.
Spending 40% of my time in parks.
The eucalyptus sauna at my gym.
God's outpouring of grace and understanding.
Having sweet time with Dad & Mami on the phone.
The books I'm reading.
Earnestly investing in my future.
"When I look at my life and its secret colours, I feel like bursting into tears. Like that sky.
It's rain and sun both, noon and midnight...I think of the lips I've kissed, and of the wretched
child I was, and of the madness of life and the ambition that sometimes carries me away.
I'm all those things at once. I'm sure there are times when you wouldn't even recognize me.
Extreme in misery, excessive in happiness--I can't say it."
-- Albert Camus, A Happy Death
Because I have been enjoying my summer with everything I've got.
Tia's two storybook weeks in Seattle
A southbound road trip to shame the rest
Experiencing San Francisco, Big Sur, & the stretches of the 101 I hadn't yet touched
Summer in Seattle (just beginning!)
(Photos courtesy of Tia Totoiu, Cynthia Haan, & Natalie Alfaro, because I am too uninspired to upload my own.)
Today Cynthia & I ventured to Capitol Hill for some Molly Moon's ice cream and sweet time in the sun at Cal Anderson Park. A sure sign that we were, indeed, in the edgier part of town: a plethora of shirtless, tattooed men laying out in the sun (fedoras screening their uv-sensitive faces). Oh, I love that park and the strange people scattered across the wide, grassy knolls.