Those Darling Buds of May

I have been known to under-appreciate the spring. It is so brief, and not quite truly warm, so I think I have always skimmed right over it in favor of its more sultry and playful sister, summer.

But we moved to Portland on the very cusp of spring: those first few days of warmth and sunshine when everyone comes out of hiding, where people talk to each other on the streets, and the teeniest little daffodil buds appear above ground. I had forgotten how powerful this moment can be. It’s so infectious… people were so hopeful, so friendly, so full of ideas about the coming months, when they could think about more than just staying warm. It really affected me. Everywhere I went in those first couple weeks, complete strangers would stop to chat with me, and invariably the talk would turn to the weather. “Can you believe this weather we’re having? Isn’t it fantastic? Are you doing anything today? Going outside?” I found myself nodding along with the same enthusiasm, which really I had no right to feel. It had been 80 degrees in LA for the whole week before the move. Coming to Portland was the coldest I’d been in months. But still, I felt myself swept up in their unbridled optimism for the future.

When I was at Sarah Lawrence, one of the first heralds of spring was the blooming of the magnolia trees. They were all over the campus, particularly around the theatre building, where I spent most of my time. The blossoms were huge, and if you ever really look at a magnolia flower you’ll see that from the moment they come into bloom they go into this state of decay that’s quite nearly erotic–their petals hanging wide open and heavy, so that they fall in languid heaps around the base of the tree.

And the smell. It was, for lack of a better word, absolutely intoxicating. For some reason it always reminded me of that electrifying line from Pablo Neruda, “I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.” For a few weeks in the spring, every time I entered the theatre building I had to walk through a haze of that heady perfume and, like the full moon, I’m sure it did strange and wonderful things to my mind as I climbed up on stage to perform in my next class.

There were a few smaller, younger magnolias scattered around the campus lawns, and I used to nap underneath them between classes on warm days, lying in a giant pile of decomposing petals, hoping to take some of their scent onto my skin. But when I arose, I only ever smelled of grass. In a few weeks, the blooms would disappear entirely, and with them their amazing perfume, replaced by ordinary greenery until another year, and another spring.

The power of spring is the power of momentum. We were stagnating in LA, not unhappy, but not fulfilled, and not moving towards anything better. In the coming weeks, we’re going to try to capitalize on the momentum of our move, and all the excitement and the earnest hope of springtime, to make some big changes. Hopefully something good will come of all this, but if not, at least we kept moving forward. I’ll keep you posted.

Something occurs to me, now. There were no magnolia trees in Los Angeles, but here… they bloom on every street corner.

Photo by Flickr user yocca.

So Long, California

BigSur_05_011.19.14_LA_14Over the last few months, two of my very best and most beautiful friends came to visit The Boy and I in LA. I wanted to show them all the magic and splendor of the golden coast, so I brought these ladies to Big Sur–“The Most Dramatic Meeting of Land and Sea”–and Leo Carillo Beach in Malibu. We scrambled over rocky bluffs, peered into crystalline tide pools to spy on lazy starfish and anemones in briney blues and violets, gazed up in awe at the tops of towering redwoods, and scaled peaks to look out across the whole wide earth all the way to the glittering sea.

BigSur_41_011.19.14_LA_341.19.14_LA_60BigSur_03_01BigSur_15_01These pictures are especially poignant to me now, because The Boy and I are packing up and hightailing it out of California. We debated this decision over weeks and months, but in truth it was while we were in Big Sur with Lorenza that my heart made its decision. I was sitting on top of a rock on a mountain overlook, looking down on a valley grove of redwoods that stretched all the way west until the land finally gave way to the Pacific. I felt nothing but happiness and the sun setting on my shoulders. Then something broke inside my head, and I had one of those perfectly clear thoughts: we need more space. We need more room to breathe. We need better air in our lungs. We need seasons, we need change. We need something more than the feverish grit and dizzying, disorienting, omnipresent sunshine of Los Angeles. But, sitting on top of that same mountain, I knew I was not ready to give up the wonders of the west, not yet. So Portland, Oregon, here we come.

BigSur_17_01BigSur_31_01BigSur_33_01I am beyond excited for our new life in a new city. We knew from the start that LA would not be our forever home, and eventually it seemed pointless to keep putting down roots if we weren’t ready to commit. Nevertheless, I’m sure I’ll be nostalgic for our Tiny Cottage one day.

BigSur_26_01BigSur_08_01BigSur_40_01In many ways, it was the perfect place to live as a newly married couple. 400 square feet offer no hiding places, no refuge, no room for cold shoulders or silent treatments. This house has been a wonderful crash course in marriage. The space forced us to be close, to speak plainly and honestly about our problems, to be gentle with each other even when one of us had had a bad day, and wasn’t feeling especially nice. We had spent so much time apart before we moved into the Tiny Cottage, and it was a little disorienting at first to swing so rapidly from 3,000 miles between us to just 3 feet.

BigSur_37_01BigSur_30_01To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t always easy. The Boy was slow to adjust to LA, and for months he was cranky, out of sorts, vulnerable, and lost. It fell to me to pick up the pieces a lot of the time, and quite frankly I did not always accept that role gracefully. We went through a little rough patch in those months, where it felt like we were arguing all the time and getting nowhere.

This was especially tricky during wedding planning, also known as hell on earth. I have one particularly fond memory of the early stages, which happened to coincide with The Boy’s poor mother staying with us for a weeklong visit, where a casual conversation about when we should start hanging lights in the yard erupted into an argument over nothing. I can see his mother so clearly, pretending to read on an airbed in our tiny living room, while we had a heated conversation in undertones just fifteen feet away in the kitchen. Ahh, wedding planning… that perfect melting pot where two different sets of values on family, religion, money, and tradition all come crashing together. Good times.

BigSur_19_01BigSur_21_01BigSur_11_01But little by little, the Tiny House showed us the way. I learned the value of small measures: making an extra cup of coffee in the morning, without being asked… picking up his favorite soda from the grocery store… washing the dishes, even though he told me he’d take care of it in the morning. These things count in a very real way, and they can make all the difference. Around October, without warning, the load got a little easier. We were sweeter with each other, and bickered less. We spent a little extra time in bed each morning, talking softly together about our plans for the day. And we both learned something important, something critical, something obvious but nevertheless difficult about our marriage: sometimes, some days, one of us will have to carry the heavier load, and that’s ok, but it’s especially important, when those days roll around, to not just remember that we love each other, but to say it, too, in gestures large and small, explicit and unspoken.

BigSur_42_01Our new house will have a lot more space, but we’ll carry these lessons there with us anyway. And one day, when we’ve been married a lot longer than we have now, I’m sure I’ll tell someone about the tiny cottage we lived in when we were so young, and so in love, and so full of plans for the future.

All pictures by Xander Keeping.

 

Recipes in Tradition

My mom is really cool. She owns a pair of pink and black patent leather Doc Martens, and she made sea salt chocolate chip cookies way before they were “a thing”. They’re The Boy’s favorite cookies, so she makes them every time we come home. Well, a couple days after we got back from Connecticut I was feeling a little bored and decided to try my hand at her recipe. I had these grand ideas about us feasting on chocolatey sea-salty goodness, about giving some to the neighbors, about writing a blog post on passing recipes down through generations, blah, blah, blah.

Sad Cookies_24So it turns out that I’m not a baker. I followed my mother’s recipe exactly, and either I did something very wrong or my oven runs really hot, because they came out hard and flat every time. The Boy ate them anyway, and pretended to enjoy them, but I was a little cranky with two plates full of mediocre cookies and my poignant blog post going up in smoke.

So I decided to try again, and this time I wouldn’t screw around with sweets, which aren’t really my thing. But instead of wisely choosing to set my sights a little lower, I decided to go for the grand prize: my mom’s matzoh ball soup.

MBSoup_03A couple of Thanksgivings ago, I was chatting with my then-roommate as I packed my bags to fly home for the holidays. She asked if we had any special Thanksgiving traditions in my family, and I stopped for a moment to think about it. We do the obligatory going around the table and saying what you’re thankful for, but I couldn’t come up with anything truly original. And then it hit me. Matzoh ball soup. For as long as I can remember, we have had matzoh ball soup at Thanksgiving. My mom makes it from my grandmother’s recipe, and the second part of the tradition is this: every time we sit down to eat the soup, mom will ask if we like the batch, and–no matter how emphatically we all tell her that it’s delicious, spectacular, the best soup ever–without fail she will say, “But not as good as Grandma’s.”

MBSoup_36 I’ve asked my mother for this recipe once before. It was a couple years ago, when The Boy and I were living in Providence. We’d both caught the flu and were in desperate need of some homemade soup. She gave me the recipe over the phone, and then I proceeded to disregard everything she said. Why would you put parsley in the broth when parsley is supposed to be eaten fresh? Why would I buy a package of soup greens when I can buy the vegetables individually? Why would I use a whole chicken with the meat, when I could just use leftover bones?

For some reason I was surprised when my soup came out tasting nothing like hers.

But this time was going to be different. I wrote down every single thing she said, and I resolutely decided to follow every step, every instruction, no matter how skeptical I was.

MBSoup_45As I was getting the ingredients together, I started thinking about the last time I had eaten my mom’s matzoh ball soup. It was just a couple weeks ago, while I was back home for Christmas. The Boy and I were sitting at the counter in my mom’s kitchen on Christmas day, having a bowl for a lunch. I didn’t notice it at the time, but looking back I suddenly realized. She hadn’t said it. The famous words, “But not as good as Grandma’s.”

This seemed especially poignant considering my grandmother passed away just a few years ago. In the time since then, I’ve felt like those six words carried a special kind of significance, and of course sadness, every time my mother said them, like the soup was a kind of memorial to my grandma, which, in a way, it was.

When I found out that my grandma had passed, the first thing I felt was regret, something I’m sure is not unusual. Regret that I had not known her better. I had spent plenty of time with my grandma during my life, and yet I still felt like I had missed out on something, like I had failed to know about her life in some way. But this is what I remember: she was a pragmatic sort of woman, with a very particular sense of humor that prompted a wicked little laugh, and every time she came to visit us she seemed to spend most of the time cleaning. Maybe this wasn’t what she was like at all. Maybe my mom is seeing this and frowning because I’ve missed the mark so entirely, but nevertheless it’s what I remember. Seems a little paltry now, considering what a remarkable person I know her to have been. The most, and best, that I can say is that she reminded me in a lot of very particular ways of my mom, which I’m sure means that I’ll grow up to resemble her in a lot of very particular ways as well. Such is the way that these thing go. But maybe, for now, making Grandma’s matzoh ball soup is enough remembrance in itself.

MBSoup_61When all was said and done, my first batch was a close interpretation of the original. The Boy and I sat down to a bowl full for lunch, and we both agreed that it was delicious, but not as good as Mom’s.

Chocolate Chip & Sea Salt Cookie

2 sticks Softened Butter

1/2 cup White Sugar

1 1/2 cups Brown Sugar

2 Eggs

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

2 1/2 cups Flour

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp Coarse Sea Salt, plus a little extra for garnish

1 16 oz bag Chocolate Chips

1) Preheat oven to 350.

2) In a large mixer, mix the butter until creamed.

3) Add the eggs, both sugars, and vanilla and mix until combined.

4) Add the flour, baking powder, soda, sea salt, and chocolate chips and mix again.

5) Working in batches, transfer spoonfuls of dough to a buttered cookie sheet. Make small thumbprints on the top of each dough lump, and sprinkle a little coarse sea salt into the indentations.

6) Bake at 350 for 9-10 minutes. Cookies should look a little undone and just be turning brown when you take them out. Transfer to a cooling rack and repeat until you’re out of dough. Note: I had my baking time down to 6 minutes by the last batch, and they still came out over done, so keep an eye on them. Oven temperatures vary wildly.

I know this is ridiculous, but I feel a little weird sharing the soup recipe online (I can practically hear my mother rolling her eyes at this), but enjoy the cookies! They’re really delicious when my mom makes them, so I’m sure one of you can figure out where I went awry. And go ask your mom for her matzoh ball soup recipe, or, you know, whatever your tradition is.

PS: How great is my new spoon rest? Another gift from mom.

I Remembered

When The Boy left home for college his bed tagged along with him, so this time I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor. His old room is the only one on the top floor of the three-story house, and virtually the entire southeast wall is windows. Lying on the mattress in a dark and nearly empty room, I stared out of those windows for the second to last time as The Boy wheezed softly in his sleep beside me. What with the room being so high up, and me being so low to the ground, all I could see were the tops of the trees, branches bare and black against midnight blue, like I was in a treehouse or a small boat floating through the sky. It was one of those cold and clear winter nights, and I could see a handful of crystal bright stars winking at me from behind the branches. I hadn’t expected to be back there again, looking up through those windows across the tops of the trees.

We weren’t supposed to go home for Christmas. Earlier in the fall, when we’d discussed how we’d spend our first holidays as a married couple, we tip-toed around the real reason. We’d done so much traveling that year, we said. With The Boy’s graduation and subsequent move, and then the wedding… it was all too much. We needed a break. Some quiet.

But staring up through those windows, so far away from the relaxed and balmy LA Christmas I’d imagined, I knew something I had always known, but hadn’t said or even thought before. I hadn’t wanted to come home, because I hadn’t wanted to say goodbye.

The wedding had been the perfect ending to my relationship with that house, because it hadn’t really felt like an ending at all. The house and yard were still full of furniture, full of people, full of shouts and laughter, full of life, full of that magic green and gold. Weeks later, when I learned the house had been sold, it seemed fitting that the last memory I would have of the place was one of being loved, of loving, of running around in old shorts in 105 degree weather making flower arrangements, of wildflowers and the same old trees that I’d known since I was fifteen watching over me. I was sad that it was over, but I wrote this, and felt a little better. We had sent the old girl off in style, and it really didn’t get any better than that.

But things change, and somehow I ended up standing in that driveway again, walking through that door again. Only this time it was bitterly cold, half the house was in boxes, and the green and gold had been replaced with bruised purple and grey. This time, it felt like an ending: sad, and leaden, and with the kind of finality that you know won’t feel fully real until weeks later, when it’s over and gone, but you can still sense waiting in the wings.

That night, lying underneath those windows, I remembered.

I remembered the summer before The Boy and I started dating, when we’d get too tired and too drunk to drive me home, and I’d end up crashing in his bed, sleeping right beneath those windows. This happened almost every night. We were still just friends, but every once in awhile I’d wake in the middle of the night and find that our bodies had unconsciously wrapped themselves around each other. We’d pretend like it hadn’t happened when we woke the next day at 4 am to drive me home before my parents woke up and noticed I hadn’t come home. Who was I kidding? Like they hadn’t noticed…

I remembered waking up on hot summer mornings in a haze of blinding sunshine baking me alive through those shadeless windows. When I couldn’t stand it anymore, we’d pull all our blankets and pillows out onto his balcony and sleep off the rest of the morning in that cool early morning summer breeze carrying the smell of fresh cut grass. The railings were tall and solid wood, so lying on the floor all I could see were the swaying green treetops, outlined against a cloudless blue sky.

I remembered standing on that balcony in the middle of the night in my underwear and old leather jacket, smoking a cigarette. It was a warm summer night, and we’d only been dating a couple of weeks. I could see my best friend’s house from that balcony. Her lights were off. She’d left us hours ago to go to bed.

I remembered standing on that balcony on a hot summer afternoon, the day The Boy and I fell in love. He was waiting for me in the yard while I ran upstairs to grab something. His room, with its air conditioning and slate blue walls, felt so cool and refreshing after the scorching heat, and the heady smell of the trees, and the irresistible momentum of falling in love. I grabbed what I needed, whatever it was, but for some reason I felt compelled to go out on the balcony before I went back downstairs. I could see my best friend’s house from that balcony. Her car was gone. I could see a red garden hose, curled up neatly on the black asphalt of The Boy’s driveway. I could see him, waiting for me on the front stoop. He didn’t look up, but I smiled at him anyway. I didn’t tell him I loved him that day, but I would.

I remembered standing in that driveway a few weeks later, talking to The Boy over my shoulder as I rummaged for something in my friend’s car. It was late August, and he was home visiting from college. He’d only left for school two weeks earlier, and he hadn’t been planning on coming home yet, but we missed each other so much that he did. We still weren’t dating. When I went over to his house that night I actually ran across the kitchen to hug him and he breathed into my hair, “Hey, kid.” Later, he walked out into the driveway with me so I could get my cigarettes out of my friend’s car. For some reason I’d decided to take all of the cigarettes out of the pack, and we were trying to put them back in, talking about something unimportant the whole time, when finally I couldn’t stand it anymore, and I dropped all of the smokes we had so painstakingly been trying to fit back into their cardboard box on the ground, reached my hands around his neck, and kissed him for the first time in years, with the moonlight filtering down on us through those same old trees that I’d known since I was fifteen.

I took an oral history class in college, and in it we spent a lot of time talking about the powers and limitations of memory. One image that’s always stuck with me is the notion of memory as a hydraulic wheel. The more it spins the faster it goes. You start remembering a single image, or perhaps a smell, and that leads to another and another, and the more you remember the more you remember, coming faster and faster until you’re left swimming in the deluge. I laid beneath those windows on a cold winter night with the hydraulic wheel of memory spinning faster and faster in my mind, remembering, and remembering, and remembering with the cold brightness of the stars piercing through my heart and the warm skin of my husband’s back pressing against my side.

This was the goodbye that I never wanted to say, the real reason we hadn’t wanted to go home, and it was bittersweet and heavy. But on Christmas Eve I sat on the floor with The Boy, and his brother, and his mother, and his grandmother, wrapping presents. This song was playing softly in the background, and The Boy and his brother were joking around about something or another, while his mother sorted through old photos, running back and forth to show us when she found one of The Boy sporting a baby mohawk in his bath, or his sister in her wedding dress, and I hummed along to the song and thought, “I never would have wanted to miss this.”

Photo by Decade Diary.

This Is What I’m Feeling Like These Days

I love The Moth very much, and this story is just so exactly perfect. I too occasionally mourn the loss of the first date, the first kiss, the first few months when you are just an absolute loon in love. But sometimes I’ll be lying on the couch after dinner, and The Boy is doing dishes in the other room, and he’ll come in to grab the last few plates, and hand me a fresh glass of seltzer even though I didn’t ask, and I think, “No matter what happens, or where I go, I’m so glad you’ll be there to bring me seltzer, and braid my hair when I can’t quite get it right, and remember an extra pair of socks for when mine inevitably get wet, and do the dishes, and be mine.” Sometimes I try to tell him all this, but it usually just comes out like, “I love you.”

Story by Jeff Simmermon, via The Moth.

I only thought I loved you before…

Letter from Henry Miller to Anais Nin, c1932.

August 14, 1932

Anais:

Don’t expect me to be sane anymore. Don’t let’s be sensible. It was a marriage at Louveciennes—you can’t dispute it. I came away with pieces of you sticking to me; I am walking about, swimming, in an ocean of blood, your Andalusian blood, distilled and poisonous. Everything I do and say and think relates back to the marriage. I saw you as the mistress of your home, a Moor with a heavy face, a negress with a white body, eyes all over your skin, woman, woman, woman. I can’t see how I can go on living away from you—these intermissions are death. How did it seem to you when Hugo came back? Was I still there? I can’t picture you moving about with him as you did with me. Legs closed. Frailty. Sweet, treacherous acquiescence. Bird docility. You became a woman with me. I was almost terrified by it. You are not just thirty years old—you are a thousand years old.

Here I am back and still smouldering with passion, like wine smoking. Not a passion any longer for flesh, but a complete hunger for you, a devouring hunger. I read the paper about suicides and murders and I understand it all thoroughly. I feel murderous, suicidal. I feel somehow that it is a disgrace to do nothing, to just bide one’s time, to take it philosophically, to be sensible. Where has gone the time when men fought, killed, died for a glove, a glance, etc? (A victrola is playing that terrible aria from Madama Butterfly—”Some day he’ll come!”)

I still hear you singing in the kitchen—a sort of inharmonic, monotonous Cuban wail. I know you’re happy in the kitchen and the meal you’re cooking is the best meal we ever ate together. I know you would scald yourself and not complain. I feel the greatest peace and joy sitting in the dining room listening to you rustling about, your dress like the goddess Indra studded with a thousand eyes.

Anais, I only thought I loved you before; it was nothing like this certainty that’s in me now. Was all this so wonderful only because it was brief and stolen? Were we acting for each other, to each other? Was I less I, or more I, and you less or more you? Is it madness to believe that this could go on? When and where would the drab moments begin? I study you so much to discover the possible flaws, the weak points, the danger zones. I don’t find them—not any. That means I am in love, blind, blind. To be blind forever! (Now they’re singing “Heaven and Ocean” from La Gioconda.)

I picture you playing the records over and over—Hugo’s records. “Parlez moi d amour.” The double life, double taste, double joy and misery. How you must be furrowed and ploughed by it. I know all that, but I can’t do anything to prevent it. I wish indeed it were me who had to endure it. I know now your eyes are wide open. Certain things you will never believe anymore, certain gestures you will never repeat, certain sorrows, misgivings, you will never again experience. A kind of white criminal fervor in your tenderness and cruelty. Neither remorse nor vengeance, neither sorrow nor guilt. A living it out, with nothing to save you from the abysm but a high hope, a faith, a joy that you tasted, that you can repeat when you will.

All morning I was at my notes, ferreting through my life records, wondering where to begin, how to make a start, seeing not just another book before me but a life of books. But I don’t begin. The walls are completely bare—I had taken everything down before going to meet you. It is as though I had made ready to leave for good. The spots on the walls stand out—where our heads rested. While it thunders and lightnings I lie on the bed and go through wild dreams. We’re in Seville and then in Fez and then in Capri and then in Havana. We’re journeying constantly, but there is always a machine and books, and your body is always close to me and the look in your eyes never changes. People are saying we will be miserable, we will regret, but we are happy, we are laughing always, we are singing. We are talking Spanish and French and Arabic and Turkish. We are admitted everywhere and they strew our path with flowers.

I say this is a wild dream—but it is this dream I want to realize. Life and literature combined, love the dynamo, you with your chameleon’s soul giving me a thousand loves, being anchored always in no matter what storm, home wherever we are. In the mornings, continuing where we left off. Resurrection after resurrection. You asserting yourself, getting the rich varied life you desire; and the more you assert yourself the more you want me, need me. Your voice getting hoarser, deeper, your eyes blacker, your blood thicker, your body fuller. A voluptuous servility and tyrannical necessity. More cruel now than before—consciously, wilfully cruel. The insatiable delight of experience.

HVM

This is what happens when Anais Nin and Henry Miller have a passionate extramarital affair. Nin continued to foster relationships with multiple lovers throughout her life, and at one point she was actually married to one man in Los Angeles and another in New York. According to Deidre Bair, Nin’s biographer:

She set up these elaborate facades in Los Angeles and in New York. But it became so complicated that she had to create something she called the lie box. She had this absolutely enormous purse and in the purse she had two sets of checkbooks. One said Anaïs Guiler for New York and another said Anaïs Pole for Los Angeles. She had prescription bottles from California doctors and New York doctors with the two different names. And she had a collection of file cards. And she said I tell so many lies I have to write them down and keep them in the lie box so I can keep them straight.

Something about the “lie box” is just so delightfully sad, don’t you think? Nin’s double life was so successful that when she died in the 1970s, two obituaries ran for her: one in New York and one in Los Angeles, each listing a different husband.

Letter originally from A Literate Passion: Letters of Anais Nin and Henry Miller, 1932-1953 via Letters of Note. Quote from Deirdre Bair courtesy of NPR.  Photo credit unknown.

On Vulnerability

My dear friend Maggie’s mother sent me this TED talk as advice for marriage, and I really felt that I needed to share. It seems I’m a bit late in my discovery, since this is apparently one of the most popular TED talks of all time. Still, even if you’ve seen it, I highly recommend a re-watch.

Brown’s message speaks powerfully to me. Five years ago, I was a very different person. Some mornings I woke and felt like I’d been flayed alive. I ran frantic through the world, trying my hardest not to bump into anything or anyone, lest I feel the searing agony of my exposed flesh. Other days, I woke leaden. All the sadness and shame weighed me down, and I could not get out of bed. My pupils felt over-dilated, so that the light burned my eyes, and all shapes grew shadowy and distorted. I built a wall of artifice around myself, so that no one could ever get too close, and inside my bunker I found all kinds of ways to numb that feeling of unworthiness, as Brown calls it. Until one day, without really meaning to, I let someone see me. Really and truly see all of me. And he decided to love me anyway.

I wish I could say that that was that, but I still had a long way to go. No one but you can make you better. But his love made it possible. Because allowing someone else to see me finally let me see myself. And to my great surprise, being vulnerable was strangely empowering. Being wholehearted and authentic is extremely satisfying. Even so, I’ve had this post sitting on my computer for over a week. I wasn’t so sure about being this open on the internet, where everyone can see. But being open is kind of addictive, so I’m going for it. I dare you to give it a try, as well.

I apologize for all the touchy-feely crap on the blog lately. Back to shiny baubles soon, I swear!

Thirty Years

 Thanksgiving_2012_11_22_72

Thirty years ago today was the official beginning of the greatest love story I’ve ever known. My parents were married on March 6th, 1983, and they’ve been madly in love ever since. They are the greatest partners and the best of friends, and I’ve learned everything I ever needed to know about love and commitment from them. So today, in honor of to occasion, I asked both of my parents to share a short story or anecdote from their relationship. The subject matter could be anything, but fittingly enough they both ended up talking about the same event. From my dad:

Oh well, it’s hard for me to even try to pick one story, or one event out of thirty years. Your mom and I, our marriage has been just this string of like… one hilarious moment after the next. You know, between all the dogs, and the kids, and your grandparents, and everything, I mean if you just looked at dog stories alone have literally thousands of absurd stories, without even adding in all of you, and your brother and sisters. So it’s hard for me to pick one thing out of what’s really been the kind of grand, overarching context for my entire life. But if you’re asking me when I knew [that she was the one], I know you remember the story Mom told you from your oral history project, about how she was working and I came in with Uncle Bob, and she said I was just staring at her? Well, I pretty much knew exactly what I wanted right then. And then we had that first date, and your Uncle Bob, and Aunt Iris, and your mom, and I all went out to a bar, and then they left and we just spent the rest of the night talking. And driving home from her place that I knew, I just knew that I was head over heels in love. She was just so smart, and funny, and beautiful, and… talking to her right away you could get a sense of how… honest, and admirable she was. And this has been the best thirty years of my life, and I think the next thirty years will be even better. 

And from my mom…

I think we’ve talked about this before but I always marvel at the sheer likelihood that I met Daddy. It was a perfect storm of fate. I wasn’t supposed to be at work when he wandered into Rich’s Dept. Store the first time. I was working at a totally different register than normal and minutes either way in either of our schedules would have meant a miss. I had actually asked to go home sick and been told no right before. Someone recently asked how Daddy and I knew we were right for each other and it all came down to my crazy dog Spot. She was almost as crazy as Meatloaf and everyone was afraid of her. But Daddy walked into my apartment for the first time and bent down and petted her and right at that moment I thought, “Okay this will work out!” So many moments flit through our lives that we think we’re going to remember, but only a few freeze. That one did. 30+ years later I can tell you every detail of that scene. Looking back, Daddy and I hardly knew each other when I picked up and moved to Los Angeles. As a mom now, I can only imagine how nervous my mom was and what a crazy impulsive move it must have seemed like. But I really think that in that fleeting moment when he gave Spot a pat I saw what an inherently good person Daddy was and I was right!

So few of my friends have parents that are still together, and I consider myself so very lucky to have this incredible example of love in my life. Looking forward to my own marriage (big big news on that to come next week), I think all the time about how The Boy and I will make this work. I only hope that we can figure it out as well as my parents.

Top photo: My parents discuss how to carve the Turkey, while Mickey the dog lies in wait.

Be Mine

Love is in the Air from Wriggles & Robins on Vimeo.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Can I just say that I have the most wonderful guy in the world? He bought me a cheese grater for Valentine’s Day, because he knows me better than anyone else in the world, and I love him for it. If he were here today, we would go see the (sure to be terrible) new Die Hard movie and eat some grilled cheese… or mac and cheese… or both… with my new grater. Unfortunately he’s a little too far away for that, but in just two(ish) weeks he’ll be right here next to me in our new tiny home, and our real life together can finally start. I hope you guys have someone to kiss today, and if not you might consider just kissing someone new. Hope you enjoy the sweet video above, and here are some Valentine’s links from around the web:

Vinegar Valentine’s say “I hate you.”

Married couples dance to their wedding songs.

My favorite love story ever.

I bought the first one for my parents, who have been married for nearly thirty years and continually inspire me with their love.

A love poem for girls who read.

Wes Anderson Valentine’s cards are delightful. Also: Arrested Development.

A literary love story map of the United States.

A love story in milk with a tragic ending.

 

 

Our Many Homes: The LA Pad

I want so many things. I want to grow my own tomatoes. I want an entire closet for just my shoes. I want enough shoes to fit in said closet. I want my own land, land so big that I can stand on the back porch and hoot and holler and no one but the pigs will hear me. I want a home filled with love, and magic, and hidden nooks for curling up with books, and secrets waiting to be discovered. I want my purple house.

But here’s the thing: I have too many tastes, and ideas, and personalities just to fit in one home. I want a thousand homes, a million homes, a home in every port, a home for every mood. So this week, every day I’ll do a new post for each of my imaginary, one-day homes.

LA padToday’s post is all about my dream pad in LA. Los Angeles is my home right now, but I think The Boy and I would eventually like to move north where there are more trees and fewer cockroaches. There are lots of things about LA that I could happily live without: the traffic, the trash and grime, and at least some of the people (the ones who gladly live up to every LA stereotype). But there’s plenty of stuff I love about LA, too: the sunshine, the funky neighborhoods, the thrift shopping, the tacos. I could never say goodbye to all that, not completely.

In my fantasies, my LA home is a bungalow up in the hills around Griffith Park. On warm summer nights, The Boy and I walk to concerts at the Greek Theatre. Inside is all mid-century glamour: lots of white with gold accents and pops of bright color. We’ll put on Motown records and dance around in front of our huge windows that look out across the city below while we drink whisky out of these moroccan lowball glasses.

Tune in tomorrow for more housing dreams, or check out my Pinterest for inspiration!

Image sources, clockwise from top left: 1, 2, 3