Took a quick drive over to North Adams yesterday to see the Nick Cave exhibit. I mean, I had to – too many of my friends have posted pictures of the installation and I needed to see it in person. We did a loop – taking the Petersburg Pass on our way east and coming through Stephentown on the trip home. It was a nice few hours with my oldest son, the only one of the three willing to indulge my interest.
Liam and I spent a couple of hours checking out the art and enjoying lunch in the museum cafe. As we walked to the car, the most random thing happened when I encountered a German family in the parking lot. Remarkably, I had run into this same family last week in Provincetown. What do you think the odds of that happening might be? I smile thinking it’s my uncle pulling some strings to remind me that he’s still around. The world can be a beautiful place sometimes if you keep your eyes open.
Just back from a quick trip to the Cape and feeling a bit overwhelmed by the speed of life. It was a three-day trip and we packed in a lot of time outdoors, a couple of beaches and bike rides and a few margaritas. There were friends in Provincetown to drink with and the weather was just what I needed – 2 days of sunshine followed by a day of on and off showers mixed with sunshine. There was a tremendous moonrise and hours spent working on a 1000 piece puzzle that I’m still obsessing over from more than 250 miles away. It was delightful.
I’ve been doing this Cape Cod thing for 20 years now and it never gets old. There’s always a new beach or restaurant or shop to visit and a different house to make home. Despite all the new spots to explore, there are traditions to be honored, favorite running routes and swimming spots, dinner joints and ice cream flavors. It’s a wonderful place and, even when things don’t go perfectly, I’m always appreciative of the time spent in this special place.
On this trip, though, I was struck by a thought I couldn’t shake – it seems that I have as many memories of time spent on the Cape as there are grains of sand on the beach. When I revisit places, eat particular foods, smell distinct aromas, hear certain sounds, I feel as if I’m sometimes doing those things with company. Over the years, in addition to my own family, I’ve spent Cape time with dozens of friends and when I see or taste or smell or hear something that reminds me of a previous, similar experience it’s almost like those folks are once again joining me. I hear their voices and laughter over the roar of the ocean and see their smiles through early morning fog and feel so incredibly fortunate to have the memories of so many times spent with people I love, in a place I love. I simply can’t wait to get back there next month with my guys!
Never in my life have I ever used the word “rejoice,” other than as a Christmas carol or hymn lyric. It hasn’t been in my vocabulary. Yet, when I stepped into the shower yesterday and the water temperature was ideal, when my skin, which had been completely drenched in sweat during a 75 minute hot yoga class then cooled to a chilly dry in the fresh air, practically sighed in bliss, it was the first word that flew to my lips: rejoice.
I started thinking of all things that have recently created a response in me that can only be expressed with that word, rejoice, and realized again what a wonderful life I have. Here are a few of the experiences and impressions that have moved me just this June.
- The rain that fell during Sunday’s run. It was the perfect density, starting as a haphazard spit growing to a steady, light drizzle. Exactly what I needed to propel me forward.
- Two moments at my son’s commencement. The first when my youngest son expressed that he identified with the tall graduate who walked on to the stage to accept his history award. “There’s me,” he said. Goal set. The second, when the young woman, whose situation I know nothing of other than she typically doesn’t seem to walk, walked across the stage with support at each elbow, to receive her diploma. Her accomplishment earned the day’s loudest applause. Humanity affirming.
- The smell of fresh strawberries, basil and tomatoes.
- Watching the photos from my phone load into my iTunes like a slideshow of my life and being blown away by all the smiling faces, scenery and memories.
- Listening to the birds chirp their appreciation for being fed.
Maybe I’m simple for finding so much joy in such seemingly trivial places. That’s ok. I like feeling simply happy.
Ever since the news came out that I was selling Lark + Lily, I’ve been asked what I’ll do with all of the time with which I will find myself. Because my love for the hospitality industry remains, (and may in fact become stronger than ever once I no longer bear the business responsibilities), I’ll continue to work a couple of nights a week. As for the rest of the “extra” time, here’s what I’m going to do:
Hang out with my kids
Cook more interesting meals
Participate more politically
Dust my house
Take at least one yoga class a week, every week
Write more – blog posts, letters, cards, poems
Go to more events and shows
Try to amp up my running a bit
Work on my yard and house
Go out for cocktails
Spend some time eliminating possessions which do not bring me joy
Learn how to sell some of said possessions
Entertain at home
Recently the news has been filled reports about the YA book turned Netflix miniseries, 13 Reasons Why. I’ve read quite a few articles about the series and understand the potential for the program to “trigger” a reaction in those overwhelmed by depression and other issues that leave them vulnerable to the suggestion that suicide is a resolution to their struggles. I’ve already expressed my thoughts about suicide and the impact on those who are left behind to carry the weight of loss. That’s not my topic today.
I want to share something that happened yesterday that I can’t stop thinking about.
Each year at “my” library we are fortunate enough to schedule an author visit for our students. In the past we’ve targeted a particular grade, carefully rotating things around so that no class graduates without having had the opportunity to listen to a published author share their work and life story. This year we “split” an author, Ben Mikaelsen, with another suburban school district. Mr. Mikaelsen lives in Montana and being able to divide his expenses with another district made it possible for us to meet his honorarium and travel costs. It was kind of a big deal for us to have such an established author visit and we maximized our time with him by scheduling three individual presentations. All of our students would be able to listen to our special guest, and some would even be able to have lunch with him.
Lunch seems like such a simple thing, but I’m now convinced it can be so much more.
The presentations were engaging and the students were a great audience. Mikaelsen shared stories from his own childhood about being bullied and being a bully himself. He talked about the inherent weakness of bullies and the importance of writing our own stories, life stories that we create and reside within. He implored students to begin writing their own life stories the very minute they walked out of the auditorium and I could see the kids mulling the weightiness of his words.
Midday we had a couple of dozen students join the author for sandwiches and conversation in the Library Media Center, including one last minute addition that our principal sent down because he felt it would be a positive and meaningful experience for the child. After we ate, students filtered through getting their books signed until only one student remained, the one selected by the principal. The student approached Ben Mikaelsen and quietly said “I have a question for you.” After receiving an encouraging nod from the author, the child continued. “When does the bullying stop?”
I stepped away, tears in my eyes, to give them time to talk. Their conversation lasted a few minutes, enough time for me to grab an extra copy of one of Ben’s books, Touching Spirit Bear, and my camera. Ben signed the book for the child and they posed together for a photo. I’d like to think that young person left the library with far more than they had when they had arrived. And a book, too.
This kid has flow like a river. Maybe that’s what you get when you give a child a middle name like Hudson. He’s got such a wonderful warmth to him, always generous with the hugs, and people simply like him. It’s charm at its most essential.
In a hundred ways he reminds me of me, but I just keep thinking he has things so much easier, so much better. There’s a security in his life that I never knew at his age. That probably doesn’t matter, though, when you’re a senior in high school and on the verge of what’s next. Cusp is a four-letter word.
Out of all my children, he’s the one I worry about the most, at least these days. They take me on their emotional journeys individually, just like the Mom & Me trips I take with them. There are turns. Fair enough, I suppose.
As a mom, I want my children to live truthful lives. The sooner they learn that being honest and direct works best most of the time, the happier we’ll all be. It’s a milestone just like learning to walk, which Griffin did at 9.5 months. Some things he gets quicker than others, but he’s always loved.
If you see him today, wish him a happy birthday. Then tell him to go home. He’s grounded.
As our long awaited trip approaches, Quinn and I are both getting excited for our upcoming adventure. I’m kind of impressed with this kid’s pick for his Mom & Me adventure – the Black Forest and Berlin, with a 2 day pit stop in Nuremberg, on my request, to break up the drive.
This will be Quinn’s second trip to Europe, but his first to Germany where he’ll be meeting members of our family. We’re planning a holiday dinner reunion of sorts and I smile each time I imagine my youngest son being introduced to his great aunts and uncles and second cousins. It’s definitely going to be awesome and emotional for everyone.
Our time in the Black Forest will be busy with family, but I’m hoping to get to Freiburg for an afternoon and perhaps even over to Colmar, France for a few hours. I’d like Quinn to see as much as possible, naturally, and the area where my family is from is perfect for crossing over the Rhine and into Alsace, home of some of my favorite wines. It wouldn’t be a bad way to spend a day.
Nuremberg and Berlin will be both be totally new cities to explore. Nuremberg appealed to me because of its rich history and architecture and Quinn will be beside himself to see sites he’s only read about or seen in documentaries. I can’t wait to walk cobblestone streets with half timber buildings on either side and I can almost taste the beer already. Proust!!
I’ve heard so much about Berlin from friends who have visited in recent years. They use words like “cosmopolitan,” “artsy” and “edgy,” which could pretty much describe me, too, right? Seriously, there’s a lively arts scene, terrific nightlife and vivid history all waiting for us to experience. We’ve got what looks to be an ideal Airbandb with plenty of room for all of us (we’ll be with my uncle and aunt) and I’m hoping for good weather and lots of time outdoors. We might even make it to Potsdam to check out a castle, which is kind of funny since I’ve never even been to Potsdam, N.Y. Maybe if there was a castle, I’d go there, too.
Have you been to these areas in Germany? Any must-sees you’d recommend? Please share any tips or suggestions!