The beginning of something beautiful

planeWe arrived in Brussels early morning after a long night of traveling over the Atlantic. What a wonderful feeling– the world exists wherever you are and it’s always beautiful.

Leaving for JFK after a night of packing and repacking, our plans were finalized with overpacked bags that have already started new aches in our bodies. A transfer in Dublin gave us just enough time to walk up and down the terminal– a quick video-chat home to a friend reminded us both that no one is ever really far away. 

Our mini-plane to Brussels was pleasant. Next to me, a 14 month old slept the entire way home. Once landed, his father asked me where we were from. “Near New York,” I responded. He smiled and told us he was from Brussels. “Welcome home,”  I said with warmth in my smile. I felt it too.

The train to the center of Brussels was on floor -1 and we got there without issue after drinking 2 emergency coffees that our bodies yearned for at 3:30 AM “our time.” 

Without a map, the city center seemed a mess. We gave in and used our phones to direct us where to go. A roquefort salad and white wine mussels (paired with white wine and local beer) was exactly what the doctor ordered. We sat and watched the new world around us happen. We then rushed off to another train station downtown to catch a train to Amsterdam.

The train was booked and the following train as well– but that’s how this trip was going to work. Go with the flow. We settled on a departure time that allowed us to sit and drink in town for an hour longer. 

This is the blessed life, as an accordion player serenades us while I write and Ryan sketches. These are the perfect moments in life where whatever happens, happens.

This is every moment.

Written May 4, 2014 at 2 PM in Brussels, Belgium (the beginning of a 3 week adventure with ryan s crane)

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A short letter inspired by the book The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Mademoiselle Reisz,

I am writing you to inform you that I intend on leaving. I am not going far, but I intend on going permanently. I am only letting you know because no one else understands this feeling in the pit of my stomach, this feeling at the center of my very being. I have chosen to write to you because you are the only person who has tasted these depths of isolation. You understand me.

We are outcasts for only the best of reasons. I plan to pursue a future without being owned and without living falsely. I will be completely true and awakened for the first time in my life. Somehow, I will fill this chasm inside of me.

For months I have felt exhilaration and confusion—I have experienced emotions I never knew existed. I am leaving because I do not know what I am doing with my life or what I truly crave. How can I be my own person when I was in such a stupor for so long? I have made my decision to leave and I am holding true because that is the only way I can be confident in who I am, confident that I am not allowing anyone else to own me.

Please let my children know I love them and that I gave them all that I could. Tell them the world is a harsh place and that they must be careful to keep their eyes open in order to stay afloat.

Please tell Robert I love him, and because I love him I must say good-bye.

Sincerely,
Edna
10.4.05

Choir

The voices of “Advanced Vocal Ensemble” ring through the halls, but no one knows the truth. We’re harmonizing and laughing and enjoying every second we have before the bell tolls, bringing us back to homework, tests, and projects.

First sopranos, second sopranos, first altos, second altos… it never matters what section you’re in because you’re nothing on your own. You help everyone and everyone helps you.

Teamwork and challenges mold girls into a choir that is respected and appreciated by the rest of the school and community.

Caring and laughing mold us into young women who will forever remember these days.
April 2006

The Fountain

Ten years of age and all I can fathom are toys. Boxes upon boxes upon boxes, and no toys can be found. The heat is almost too much for my little bathing suit clad body to take. Every new box holds incredible promise; navigating each sticky piece of tape without my stuffed animals, without My Pretty Pony crushes my juvenile spirit. Leaving the box-swallowed room, I enter my parched paradise.

Surveying my exotic surroundings, it begins to sink in that I am really in Nicaragua. With an increasingly familiar Latin taste, it feels more like my last home, Guatemala, than my first home, Pennsylvania. Here, my grandmother is not making fruit salad in the kitchen anymore; she is in an air-conditioned bedroom with Alzheimer’s disease, exploring the world of Spanish Wheel of Fortune re-runs. My father is making everyone happy in a clothing factory, because he is the sweet, perfect father.

Wiping sweat from my forehead, I smell food. This food it is not pleasing to my palate. The woman cooking it only knows how to cook with outside fires—not ovens. My mother gently reminds her that black beans do not have to be served with every meal. My sister, fourteen, is following me discreetly to ensure my safety in this new world.

While exploring my new abode, I discover a circular fountain at the core of a beautiful garden. The fountain is pleading with me to partake in its jubilant dance. The fountain, sadly, is empty, but I remedy its dry and hot stone interior with the promise of water from a nearby hose. The water filling the fountain becomes a whirling cure for the sultriness of the day. I check on the height of the newly created pool approximately every 20 seconds. The first time I check my knuckles are covered with cooling water. By the 15th time, it has reached my elbow and my excitement overflows.

The water that runs from the end of the green hose fills the placid stone pool. I play a game of pretend—the hose becomes a snake, its nozzle hissing and its green scales growing wet and slimy. Venom spitting, the snake is unstoppable to any common man! Secrets of the jungle are known only to me, and as I turn the nozzle, the fluid ceases.

One toe at a time, my foot sweeps the top of the water, and I sit on the edge bracing myself for the moment that is inevitable. Overwhelmed by anticipation, I fully submerge myself in the fountain. The water eases the sweltering heat, and carries with it an almost baptismal like peace.

That afternoon of fountain dipping in Nicaragua is one of my fondest and most cherished memories of childhood. For a number of reasons, life changed after that dance in the fountain. My father died without warning only three days later and we left one foreign country filled with family to relocate to the United States. Life changed completely. When I recall the sleek, slippery, formfitting water, I feel alive, comforted, and innocent.

August 2005

Happiness is a Newborn

I find beauty in every human being I see,
but I have never been as amazed as when I saw a newborn for the first time.

A newborn tells you what heaven feels like
and is exactly what innocence looks like.

Pure innocence is rare and nearly impossible to see,
especially in a world so full of hate, pain, hunger, and greed.

A child is a new heartbeat beating on its own after a short nine months in the making.

Through nature, beauty is both created and born with every new child.
12.12.04

Hurricane

familyThis storm still has such a hold on me;

My head is clouded and I’m echoing,

echoing in my own head.

Repeating my own phrases again and again and again.

This full circle life we lead—

We live, we love, we leave. Never past tense. Always now. Always continued.

The movies, a party, a museum.

I promise I’ll say yes.

How many times can I wish I said yes?

A matter of distance, a matter of energy—

It just doesn’t matter anymore.

The memories we made will have to be enough.

You’re out of audible range, though I sometimes feel you near.

Now you’re everybody’s forever best friend.

Forever young.

The kind of love that belongs to a full-grown heart;

Eternal fondness.

This storm will continue to hold me.

Always now. Always happening.

Always love.

Because you are and always will be.

October 30, 2012

Good Book Karma

My library is only partially read… but aren’t all libraries built that way?
I can’t throw away book.
I believe all of these books are made for the perfect moment
When they need to be exactly where they are.
I wouldn’t go to the library down the street and toss a book away,
“I wasn’t going to read this one today”…
And so my library grows.

I’ll let you borrow any of them under the pretense I could get it back one day.
Though I may never read all of the books that I own,
maybe I will.
3.22.13

Anxiety

When anxiety takes hold, the feelings are incommunicable;
You feel powerless in your own mind.
“All I know is I have no reason to feel this way and I have no way to stop it.”

Like when you are caught beneath a wave, you will only struggle more if you fight it.
Though you cannot breathe and your body is rolling,
Just let the waves wash over you.

How do you talk yourself out of it? How can you make the darkness ebb?
Keep repeating the things you want to believe; breathe and talk yourself through it:

“You will only be who you allow yourself to be.
Whatever is meant to happen will.
You are beautiful, honest and kind. “

Remain calm.
The more guidance you give yourself,
The more you remain in control of your life and your love.

Just remember to breathe again as soon as you catch some air.
March 4, 2013

Birthday

On the surface, birthdays seem like math.
So many questions from people you haven’t seen in who knows how long;
This is a date in time for others to pulse check on your progress.

What year were you born?
When is your next big thing?
How long did it take for you to get from X to Y?
To others, a birthday is a balance sheet—it’s your life in numbers at a set point in time.

But your birthday is not your life, a day can never be your year.
Celebrating your life, no matter the number, is what matters most….
I’m just so glad you were born.

The truth is that it life is so abstract and counting should be discouraged.
Live by how you feel; life is not numbers on a scale.
How many loves, how many smiles, how many times have you wondered?
I hope the answer will always be infinite; to enjoy life you don’t need to stop and count.
March 4, 2013