inhale, exhale, write.

How was your writing retreat in Prague, I said.

So good, KAK said, but I didn’t actually write much. Too busy taking notes and workshopping stories and meeting with teachers and living in that gorgeous city.

You were filling your creative well, I said.

Inspire also means to breathe, KAK said, so you inhale the experiences and as you exhale, you write about all the things you inhaled.

We were using different words to say the same thing.

Her words, however, trilled a familiar tune in me because, breathing, it’s something I do every day. I do it without thought, without effort, and with my eyes closed or open. Is writing really as easy as that? Can it be? Could it be? Maybe not. Probably not. But this is a simple way for me to approach the big bad beast of fumbling my way through my story. And overcoming that fear has been much too difficult of late.

I now know I just have to take this one breath at a time.


lost and found

I removed my ring (my family heirloom, my most prized possession because it is beautiful, it makes me feel strong and independent, it ties me to my family heritage, it reminds me of my aunt A who gave it to me, it makes me think of my dad as his sister gave it to me, it’s lived on some fancy fingers and I try to live up to that) and thought about where to put it while I slathered on sunscreen. The cup holders were full. The pocket in the door handle was too shallow. My purse was too big. I put it on my lap.

The cool lotion soothed my baking skin.

J slammed on the brakes as the sign about sweet corn alerted us to the farmers’ market. As J had taken care of other group expenses, she would add this to her total to be divided up later. I stepped over my purse. Reds and oranges and yellows and greens painted each bucket of produce and sweetly scented peaches drew my attention while J drooled over the tomatoes. Two city girls beaming in the middle of a farmers market. Bags in hand, we returned to the car and to the final 15 minutes of our trip. Up and around the mountain, ears popping, me calling out directions. We were the first car to arrive.

Car #2 showed up 20 minutes later and as we were chatting and carrying things into the house, my ears started ringing and my bare hand trembled. Where was my ring?

I don’t think she’s listening, someone said.

I shook my head. I lifted my hand. My ring is gone, I said. Oh no, they said. J and I tore apart her car. Crumbs and papers and receipts and 15 pens, but no ring. I moved her car from its spot and we searched the ground underneath. Nothing.

I was putting the sunscreen on, I said. I put it in my lap. It’s at the market. I have to go back. I have to go back to the market. Can I take your car? I can drive. You can drive. I have to go back.

J hugged me and handed me her keys and I drove off with a heightened sense of sight. I, the one who still gets lost in Boston 12 years later, remembered each turn down the mountain. Right, right, left, right, route 33. Look for the cupcake sign. Look for the spa sign. Slam on the brakes. Pull into the lot.

Along the way, my aunt L came to mind. Two years ago, I drove her from PA to MA and she explained how she went from a strict organized religion to a looser, more forgiving new age frame of mind. I liked the idea of the spirit guides then and I truly needed them now. Plus, she’s a sister to my dad and aunt A. I figured if I ever needed to invoke the power of my family, this was it. Maybe some of the family’s spirit guides could help too. I clutched the steering wheel. The knobby bits underneath the wheel worrying under my fingers like rosary beads.

My ring is insured, but does that policy cover stupidity?

Also, I don’t want a replacement. That won’t have lived on fancy family fingers. It won’t have seen cocktail parties from decades ago. It won’t sparkle the same.

I inhaled a gigantic breath and stepped out of the car. There were only a few cars in the lot. The entire area where we’d previously parked was empty. I systematically walked over the gravel. I tiptoed over the rocks. Shades of gray to perfectly conceal the platinum I was looking for. Come on, ring, I thought. Live up to your name. Sparkle for me. Show me where you are.

Bile rose as nothing but nature appeared.

I walked to the front of the parking spot to go about the search from a new angle. I looked to the employees. All busy. I was too close to tears to explain what I was looking for anyways. Then, a familiar sparkle caught my eye. Afraid it wasn’t real and afraid it would disappear if I moved too fast, I dove onto the gravel.

My ring.

Dusty, but in perfect shape.

I found it I found it I found it I found it, I cried into the phone.

I’d called J but KAK answered and provided the necessary exclamations of cheer and happiness. Now get back here and start celebrating, she said. With my family connection secured, I drove with shaking hands and a steady heart back to the mountain that contained my college friends.

convos with strangers

conversations with strangers #119


Me: *transfers laundry from washer to dryer, carefully sorting through what gets dried and what doesn’t*

Her: *flies down stairs* *adds cash to laundry card* *holds up card* Do you like this thing?

Me: Oh, I LOVE it.

Her: Really? I wasn’t sure if I had money on it and I had to run to the ATM.

Me: Well, I had to collect quarters before. This is so much better. Once you added the money, did you find you hadn’t needed to?

Her: I mean, yeah, it was on zero and I’m in the middle of my laundry, but I had to go out to the ATM.

Me: At least the ATM gives currency the card takes. Quarters are hard to find when you’re in the middle of laundry.

Her: True.

She didn’t seem entirely convinced with my arguments, but to me, quarter-fed machines = college to me and upgrading from quarters to a plastic card means I’m moving up on the adulthood scale.


abroad life

My second set of friends have packed their US selves and are going global. Yay for them. Sad for me. Good for all is that you (and I) can follow along on their adventures here.

I’ve known E since 1995 and T since 2002. I’ve lived with E and spent my first, formative Boston year surrounded by them, their wisdom, and their cheer. We’ve had batches of beer soaked evenings and grill-fests and concerts and resume evaluations and jobs lost and jobs won and taxi drivers take the long way and movies and dinners in and out and late nights and early mornings and new apartments and houses and weddings and cars and travel and fireworks in the ‘Ville and laughter.

We’ve gone from being babies in the big bad city to having babies (well, they have…).

After all those years and moments big and fast and small and wide, they hatched a plan to “break free of their narrow life and leap into a broad life.” “How?” rung a beat in my head over and over as I thought “Of course and What and For Real and How much and How come and Jealous and Adopt me and Please take me with you.”

It’s hard to imagine Boston without them because they’ve been a steady influence in my life. E’s the reason I had the guts to move up here not to mention I’d recently moved to a new apartment within walking distance of them. I was excited for neighborhood run-ins and quick casual visits and drinks on the patio and the occasional big night out, but now, our interactions will have to be limited to email and social media. Here’s hoping their new, broader life breaks the boundaries of the internet so I can see and hear and touch and taste and smell the world right along with them.

Here’s to outlining and chasing and catching your dreams. <3

Bon voyage!


4am wakeup call

Waking up at 4am means there are a lot more hours between breakfast and lunch.

A coworker told me a girl with short blonde hair and a cute dress and a Harvard Square Bookstore bookmark sat next to her on the bus and she tried to awkwardly and surreptitiously stare at the girl to see if it was me. Short blond hair, check. Cute dress, hopefully, usually, check. Harvard Square Bookstore bookmark, no check. If it really had been me, it would have been one from Porter Square Books.

I was on a bus though because I just came from Washington, DC this morning, I told my coworker, and somehow I was in the office by 8:30am. Not normal, I said. So tired, I said. Did you hear about the guy who figured out it was cheaper for him to live in Spain and commute daily by commercial plane to London, she said. That sounds crazy and awesome, I said. He has a gigantic house in Spain, she said.

My friend E has long told stories of her second child waking up repeatedly (and for the day) at 4am. I can barely stand one day of this. How does she survive on repeated days of it? Hopefully she goes to bed before 11pm, which was my bedtime last night.

Sister J is settling into her new home, her new life. Or, at least that’s the impression I got after only have 12 hours to spend with her.

I’ve known my college friends for 16 years. We all collided in the ‘Burg for a self-designed reunion this past weekend. We all have different memories of our four years there. Different favorite restaurants. Different buildings where we attended classes. Different dreams dreamt, lived. Different regrets. Different living spaces. The campus is different now too. Bigger, newer, sturdier, classier. And yet, we all ordered the same thing off the menu that we used to order when we were full time students.