Reminiscing

My parents were visiting this past week. We spent three glorious days skiing in Fernie.

DSCF6900

Please meet Jim and Sally

The first night, Dad and Dan and I stayed up and had a bottle of wine and talked and talked in the ski lodge. There were heated games of Euchre. Delicious dinners. More wine. Skiing.

I came back early because I had an interview. I couldn’t sleep the night before and in the morning I sweat right through the dress I had picked out so I raced around the neighborhood trying to find an appropriate outfit.

When Mom and Dad came back to town we went to the radio station and they told stories about my childhood.

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I heart San Francisco

Sometimes, I miss San Francisco.

Dan can get annoyed when he can tell I’m getting wistful–and start listing off the reasons we left–but I can’t help it. I’ll always miss her. Like an old friend, like a first love–she’s a part of me.
We had a friend over dinner (hi Sara!) and she asked: “Should I visit San Diego or San Francisco?” and of course my answer galloped out of my mouth before she even finished the question. Could explain to her why?
There are the obvious things–the beauty. The food. The Golden Gate Bridge.

But its the magic that I miss.

Sometimes I would run through the Marin Headlands on a sunny day after the spring rain, the hills would be so green and the ocean would just stretch on and on and I would think: this must be what heaven looks like.

Sometimes I would go down to Ocean Beach with a friend or a lover and a six pack at sunset and watch the sky turn orange while a plump harvest moon rose over the city. I would be so bowled over that I could just do that–watch the sun set over the Pacific on any old day.

Sometimes I’d see this girl hula hooping with headphones in–but she was really hooping, jamming out like no one was watching–in Washington Square Park. People really know how to hula hoop in San Francisco.

Once I walked down the street in the mission in a yellow skirt and a yellow ribbon in my hair and a man called out, “Hello yellow, I’ll be your mellow fellow!” and we both burst out laughing and kept walking in our opposite directions.

On one weekend in May, you’d find adults dressed as pirates or salmon or in tutus or painted gold or downright naked at the train station and just smile and shrug.

I always had a reason to wear glitter and plop feathers in my hair.

You could just head out toward anywhere and find a totally unexpected adventure. I mean there’s a dutch windmill, a field of bison, and an indoor rainforest within half a mile of one another. You can watch the Blue Angels, see Emmy Lou Harris, and then slap on your fur and party with Burners over the course of 24 hours. My friend once called it “the San Francisco playground” and that’s really what it’s like–a playground for adults with all these crazy characters and things to do and rides to take. When you live there it’s like you and everyone around you are in on this great secret and you wink at each other and sometimes you hug a stranger because you both just. Get it.

I could go on forever like this.

One time, Dan and I went down to Ocean Beach for sunset. It was the weekend of Outside Lands–the huge music festival in Golden Gate Park. We could hear Thievery Corporation thumping behind us. And just as the sky blushed pink, humpback whales started breaching offshore. That’s the kind of magic I’m talking about–where somehow Thievery Corporation, an ocean sunset, and humpback whales come out to play in your backyard. It’s so beautiful it’s impossible–and yet there it is.

Christmas & Magic

Well it’s frozen and cold in Canada, Friends.

The Bow River

I chased temperate climates for most of my twenties (save that one year in Boston.) But because I grew up in Minnesota, winter is familiar–like an old friend. I recognize its icy kiss, the way the air scrapes at your throat, the gust of heat when you walk through the door, and the way it’s almost impossible to get out of a hot shower, or worse–out of bed in the morning. I pretty much want to live under a soft blanket. You come to savor warmth in a kind of spiritual way.

Winter’s ok with me around the holidays. There are lights sparkling on the tree, and the house smells like evergreen and gingerbread, I splurge on a weekly hot apple cider, and I even love to hate the constant drone of Christmas Carols in every store.

My family loved tall fat trees–the biggest one we could possibly fit in the designated nook. It was such an event! getting the tree. Hauling the decorations out of the attic, blasting The Nutcracker on the stereo while we decorated, Dad getting out the step ladder so that we could reach the high branches, squabbling over which ornaments we got to hang.

As the days went by, we’d inspect the presents every morning, counting the packages with our names on them. Oh the mystery and wonder those wrapped packages held!

We helped Mom bake hundred of Gingersnaps–the secret family recipe, she’d always remind us.

We’d roll the batter into tiny balls then send them swimming in a sea of sugar.

Yes indeed, I was a glutton for gingersnaps.

Christmas was full of magic. Real beguiling magic that nearly made my little heart burst every Christmas morning, as I opened my bedroom door and found that first little present sitting in the doorway. My brother, sister and I convened in one of our rooms to inspect these first gifts from Santa while we waited for 7 AM when we were allowed to wake up Mom and Dad, and then ran full throttle for their door and jumped all over their bed and cried, “It’s Christmas! It’s Christmas!” before tearing into the stockings.

Then Dad would make us wait at the top of the stairs while he got the video camera and set the coffee brewing. “Dad!” we’d cry. “Huuuuurrryyyyy!!” Oh the sweet agony of that wait at the top of the stairs, heart a-fluttering.

Dad would walk over in his robe, eye peering through the video camera lens taunting us, “Did he come? Do you think he came, Kids?”

Then we’d practically tumble over each other as we ran down the stairs and beheld the mountain of gifts. “He came!” we squealed, “He came!”

Although Christmas traditions came and went, that morning was always the same. It was always just us, just ours–and yet everyone’s.

I often long for that magic feeling that intoxicated us on Christmas. Oh, I’ve found it in adulthood. On other continents, in random wanderings with friends, in the desert, in music, it showed up at our wedding, and it lives wild places. It’s not something you can hold onto, so you just have lay back and let it fall over you while it lasts.

I hope there are flurries of magic wherever you are.

Happy New Year

Love, Sky

Thanksgiving. And time.

Well, dear friends, I am back from Florida.

It was hard to leave.

And not just because I was turning in beaches and sun and sand and sunsets for freezing temperatures and snow.

 

I had to say goodbye to these sweet faces too.

I’m getting sentimental in my old age. Thanksgiving makes me all gooey with nostalgia.

The boat ride we’ve made a thousand times.

My brother still making the Christmas Card photo session impossible.

Mom, yet again, cooking the perfect bird.

I don’t mean to brag, but we had the best Thanksgiving ever. Every year, we eat with old family friends, the Spencers, and this year, we added another family we’ve known forever and ever, the Bassetts. I’m doubly lucky because the eldest Bassett Peter married my cousin/best friend Meghan, and they brought their four-month old son, Gunnar.

I couldn’t stop thinking: aren’t we the luckiest?

The tradition was in full effect, with Ed’s fine wines flowing in abundance.

And each of us writing what we’re thankful for on a colored feather to add to the turkey.

Construction paper turkey with our Thanksgiving musings pictured here.

Plus, we had Gunnar. The cutest baby of all time.

Doesn’t this face just melt your heart?

There was a sing along to The Circle of Life. And then, dancing…

 

Also, this happened.
Surfin’ USA was playing!
In Florida, we’re all within walking distance. People would pop by for a glass of wine, a walk, a chat. You know those times when you are acutely aware of how happy you are? Doing something that’s nothing–like playing bocce or Smashball or just sitting around after the sun’s gone down–that’s really everything?

Or eating ice cream.

Maddy’s blissful anticipation of this bite just makes me smile.

I’ve been thinking a lot about time.

Bingo is one of Boca Grande’s hottest nightlife activities.

About how I’m two years older than my mom was when she flew to Boca for the first time with me, six months old, in her arms.

Look at Pat’s concentration. So heavy he can barely sit up.

About how even though our parents still refer to us as “the kids,” we’re really not anymore.

Dancing to the Boca Bande: my dad’s favorite Thanksgiving tradition.

It’s crazy how the years add up.

Please note hippie right behind me and Dan.

Dan and I had dinner with another couple on Friday and we talked about this–time, that is. She said when we’re kids we’re anticipating growing up, and so time stretches out and feels so long, like we’ll never get there. Once we’re grown, we ache for it to slow down, to remain where we are, and thus, it feels too fast.

He said that if all our days are the same, time races by. If we do things–adventures big or small–if something major happens–a big move, a life event–time slows down.

Indeed, Dan asked me if I felt like this year had gone fast. I told him no. Last Christmas seems ages ago. This year was full of new things–a new landscape, new adventures… a new life.

Sometimes I wish there was a sunset that lasted forever. Where we would sit on our beach chairs, with a glass of my dad’s cheap chardonnay and listen to him tell us it was most definitely a green flash kind of night, and watch as the sun just hovered there, the earth refusing to turn.

Some notes from Graham and Clinton’s Wedding

For me, college was all about girlfriends.

Me, LL and the bride, Graham.

I went to a southern public university, and I was never really interested in the boys and they were never really interested in me. For four years, this made me wonder what in the dickens was wrong with me.  But no matter. I’m glad I had four years of boys on the side.

Because these girls? There’s just nothing like ’em.

Now there are boys around.

The bride and her groom.
Dan and his boyfriend Robbie.

But we still have a world–and memories–that are all our own.

Graham, Sky, Callie and LL. In the Bonds.

After all, we’ve known each other longer than they’ve known us. Going on 14 years to be exact.

We have spread out over the country: north, east, west. And as much as we try to resist the tug of our adult lives, we see each other less often.
But we’re still here.
And there are still weddings.
Beautiful Graham!

Sometimes, I wish I could turn back the clock to that little bubble of time.  When it was all about us. Drinking too much Natty Light out of obnoxious sorority cups. Studying late into the night while gorging on gummy candies and Diet Cokes. Sneaking away for cigarette breaks. The days of ridiculous road trips to Florida nipping on vodka in the back seat, singing Jesse’s Girl and Pour Some Sugar On Me and the Gourds’ version of Gin n’ Juice. Dancing like our lives depended on it.

Kelly and Mary Lorraine!

But I think that’s what made it special–that is was a bubble and we only got it once.

And now we have this, which is just as good, maybe better.  It’s harder sometimes, but we know who we are.  These weddings mean so much to us because we remember what it took to get there.  We called each other with devastating crushes and broken hearts; we talked about our dreams, worried we would never get jobs, called again when we got into grad school or decided to move or stay put and when we fell in love.

Maybe we knew each other before we ever really knew ourselves.

Anyway, we can still dance like silly people and belt out Hey Ya! with the best of them.

We can still stay up too late, sit on each other’s bed, talk about everything and nothing for hours on end, and drink that last beer (or two) that we really don’t need.

That’s the thing about old friends–you pick up right where you left off.

It’s just that now we have to say goodbye, fly back to our corners of the world, and start wishing for the next reunion. Sometime. Sometimes soon, I hope.