How Ya Goin?

Wollongong Local Rockstar

Halloween. A holiday met with resistance here in Australia. Many people scoff at the idea of dressing up and asking for candy, not fully realizing that only the kids (usually only the kids) go trick-or-treating in America, and the real draw of Halloween is to dress up as adults and hang out with each other. It is just another excuse to celebrate life with your friends, and given that Australians love holidays, I was baffled to hear how they brush off halloween. 

Granted, I am still unsure of exactly what halloween is.

I wish you could hear this wind. It’s 3 AM and the wind is blowing with such force the whole house is shaking. I can only imagine the halloween decorations outside and their current whereabouts. Winds like these have always reminded me of fall, which is comforting given the fact that it is fall back home. Here, Spring is passing its time off to Summer. Storms roll through with a quick and poignant ferocity, leaving just as quickly. The wind blows with a strength that makes me want to get out of bed and run down to watch the sea. I have always loved the way wind howls as it blows through spaces. Tonight is no exception.

My current location is in my new house. I haven’t learned the sounds yet, and the novelty of renting a room as a traveler in a foreign country is bizarre to me. This is the first room I have rented in a house with less than 5 people in it. Maybe I’m finally growing up? The yearnings for home have their fingers delicately balanced on my heart strings. I didn’t realize how much I would miss fall, with its warm winds and crisp mornings. The contrast of the leaves back home turning to orange, vs. the flowers blooming purples and pinks here summons a strange nostalgia for the familiar. I do not know the seasons here, and my body feels backwards with its cravings for the cozy, chai drinking, pumpkin carving, warm scarf days of home. 

My New Home

Then pops in the age old question, “What is home.” Home is where the heart is… Home is wherever I’m with you… Home home on the range… home… Well if you ask webster dictionary, as a noun, home is “the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.” That is fair, I suppose, though the definition of family seems to be constantly in question as well. There is blood family, and then there are those people who you happen upon in life that make you feel a little more you. Both are equally important for creating the person you identify yourself as. I like the “permanently” part of the definition because that is a word I rarely frequent. Nothing in my life is permanent. It seems that things are coming and going constantly. 

The definition of home that seems more suitable for me comes in the verb form, “(of an animal) return by instinct to its territory after leaving it.” Now I am not sure that I have landed in my territory, but some of me believes that I need the separation from California in order to feel her calling again. My instincts pull me back to the sandstone mountains and Santa Ana winds at the same rate that they push me towards everything else in the world. The freedom of being a human echoes across the escarpment, through the turqouise waters, and into my heart as I bury my feet in the sand and walk home holding hands with strangers and swimming in the ocean with the moon bright above. 

Currently, Australia is a beautiful home. I have fallen in love with the gumtree forest and the way the people here talk in their round lazy slang. I’ve learned that when people ask “How ya goin,” not to respond with how I am doing, but rather just to say hi. I now know that they call squash, pumpkins here and that capsicum are bell peppers and Cilantro is called coriander. Australians put cocoa in their cappuccini, a flat white is made of heaven, and that “afternoon” can be shortened to Arvo. When someone asks “You alright?” It isn’t because you appear to have something wrong, but rather it is just a nice way of saying “All good?” Banana is pronounced with the long A sound, and no longer rhymes with Hannah unless you pronounce my name with a british accent.

My name is maybe the most endearing part of being in Australia. You see, Australians inherently nickname everything and everyone. Shortly after introducing myself as Hannah, I am called “Han.” I have never liked that nickname before, but the accent here softens it up, and the sweetness of having strangers call you by a nickname brings a level of closeness I have only found in a select crew of humans back home. I have never had a nickname that stuck before, and I love the novelty of having one here. For now, this home is one of the best I have ever had.

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Backyard Ponder

Views From a Bike Ride North
I sit here in the backyard of a house is mine for 3 more weeks in a bikini and a hat that I traded for a hat this past weekend at a festival. The hat is approximately 3 sizes too small, but just big enough to fit over my long sand laden hair, salty from days spent in the ocean. The wind is blowing the water out of my drying laundry and threatening to blow the hat off my head. The sun is gloriously warm, taunting me with the hints of a sunburn. I am proud to say I haven’t been burnt yet down under, which comes as a surprise due to the impressive number of warnings I received before coming here. That being said, there is always today, and I haven’t applied my usual 3 rounds of sunscreen. 

Well. What is there to be said about living in a town, full of amazing people, with a cool job that pays a living wage and easy access to endless beaches? Should I start with how wonderful and strange it is to consider almost-strangers my closest friends? Or how I now give directions to places without pulling out the map to decipher it all? Or should I start with the fact that homesickness still exists, though it comes and goes like spring storms? There is so much and so little to say at the same time. 

The balance of work and play is forever in question as a working holidayer. The traveler in me wants to savor every second of every day with as many different kinds of people as possible, learning their stories and their lives with limitless amounts of “yes.'” I want to say yes to everything. I want to go to as many social events, as many national parks, as many beaches, and camp trips, and adventures as possible. I want to do it all, though the reality of time and money seem to always be singing melancholy tunes on my eyelids drooping from not enough sleep and too much sun. Something in me keeps going though. As a barista, I question whether my happiness comes from the world around me or the espresso inside me, and usually I just accept the happy synthesis of the two. Without my undeniable attraction and addiction to espresso, I would potentially be one of the least productive humans out here. I am forever amazed by its simple power.

Painting with Friends After Work

So, what am I doing here? I am an American girl with a college degree working as a barista in Wollongong Australia. Is there any order to the chaos? Do I doubt my decision to jump into something so huge with so little forethought? Sometimes. Honestly. It is not easy to not have answers to the questions everyone seems to want answers for. I wish I could paint a pretty little map with a timeline of my life. The current section would be titled “That time I went to Australia to live life for a while because I wasn’t ready to commit to adulthood.” Cause the truth is that I am not ready to sell myself to a 9-5 in an office or to additional schooling that I may need for “Whatever I am doing for the rest of my life.” I am happy to be in a country, quite honestly doing what I love while being immersed in one of the most wonderful communities I have come across to this day. 

You see, coffee for me has always been a way to connect. A warm cup of coffee in the morning is one of the simplest and kindest gestures you can do as a host or friend or lover. So, making coffee in a coffee shop is in a similar way giving people a space to slow down before they speed up into their days, and catch up with the people that matter. Even if those people are just themselves who need to sip on a warm drink in a comfortable arm chair. I enjoy the rush of caffeine-crazed individuals, and the precision of weighing out each espresso shot, and the madness of grouping orders with milk types and numbers of shots. I love watching the community move in around me, just detached enough to watch everything as though I am living out my own personal drama. I love the coffee culture and I don’t regret for a second being immersed in it. In a sense I am living out my degree too. 

Environmental studies is the awareness of the environment around us. Working in high quality coffee brings awareness to high quality ingredients and therefore the quality of care which went into the products that eventually enter our bodies. The care it takes to make each individual drink is nearly magic in itself, and that people are willing to wait the extra 5 minutes to get their orders shows the attitude of patience that is being cultivated through the understanding that things take time. Great things take time. Great coffee takes time. Healthy bodies, minds, and nature take time. Time takes time to heal and change and craft everything in its path. And as I take time to make the perfect coffee, I take time to let myself become whatever it is I will. No matter how winding the path, I trust that time will get me there. Even though it is scary not to know, I know I am learning all the while, and enjoying the ride the whole way. 

Beach cafe before the Bike Ride

Flowering in OZ

Gum Tree Flowers
I believe in flowers. Perhaps more than anything else, I trust flowers to exist exactly as they should exist. I believe in color, and the sun, and the way the moon waxes and wanes and the patience involved in it all. Nothing beautiful happens instantaneously. Walking through the tropical rainforest of Queensland, Australia is a reminder of this. The ground is primarily made of clay as if it is trying to say “We have enough water here, we can’t handle any more.” While the trees grow to staggering heights, nearly touching the stars, the roots are the most impressive part of the puzzle to me. The earth is deprived of oxygen in these soils, yet every plant finds a way to exist and grow and compete for that last inch of sunlight slipping through the canopies. 

A week in the rainforest of Northern Australia could never be enough to uncover all of the mysteries mixed into the GREEN that perpetrates everything in sight. Leaves the size of my entire torso shoot up and drop down like umbrellas with ridged leaves to help maximize sunlight and minimize the chance of being weighed down by water. Years of change, of life and decay, of growing and falling and growing and growing. The strangling figs, slipping up the sides of ancient trees while twisting and turning and growing until they completely take over the other tree, enveloping it and consuming it until the tree dies, and all that is left is a labyrinth of the Fig tree that won.

A Strangling Fig Stands Where a Tree Used to…

All of this life and growth and abundant nature fills me up in a way I haven’t experienced for years back in the dry homeland of California. The entire four years I spent in the redwood RAINforest only consisted of 3-5 major rainstorms, and while the beautiful sunny weather is hard to complain about, the lack of rain had started to psychologically stunt me. I ached for water the way the earth did, and I didn’t fully realize this until I was standing under the canopy of the Daintree Rainforest listening to the rain pour down from the sky, yet I was barely touched by the drops. The trees literally drank the water, and every plant that grows through the levels of the canopy reaches out for their own sip. The forest is alive with sounds and smells and an energy so vibrant that it is impossible not to feel awe amidst it.

To be fair, it is never right to compare something. Though, I guess I didn’t really know how much I missed rain until I saw it every day in violent storms that would last for about 5 minutes and pass. The climate of Cairns was strangely nostalgic of long days sitting on my grandmothers back porch in Florida. The hot, heavy hair clings to your body and clothes and you cannot escape it. Yet, everyone embraces and accepts it. It is like a never ending hug from the sky. The trip was the apex of my vacation expenditures in Australia. I figure getting the holiday part of my work holiday visa out of the way is a safe way to buckle down and experience the community of Wollongong. 

I have already landed 5 separate jobs, and have had to decline 3 of them as a Barista. It seems the tides are in my favor, and the gratitude I have for the people back home who have trained me and believed in me in the hospitality industry is immense. Though I don’t want to be a barista forever, I enjoy interacting with the community in this way. The two shops I have accepted remind me of home in the way the staff takes care of each other, and puts quality over quantity. Not to mention both shops being decorated with plants and wood. 

Though I would love to continue writing… The next subject breaches into the GReat Barrier reef which I will have to save for another time. Thank you for sharing my journey with me…

Yours,

Hannah

To Float Like a Mangrove Pod

Avicennia marina, Gray Mangrove

A Mangrove seed pod floats through rivers, oceans and bays until it finds a place to land. When it does land, it tries to bury it’s roots down to grow. Unfortunately, it can’t grow everywhere and the brave little seed pods perish upon foreign land. Now, not to be dramatic or anything, but I feel a strange connection to the fate of these pods. I’ve floated across the skies to many different countries, waiting for the one that I could sink my roots down into. Of the places I have been, none have been able to hold me for long enough for roots to grow. There has never been the right combination of whatever’s to keep me in one place. Yet, here I stand on Australian sand, and unlike the Mangrove pods that can’t grow there, I feel my roots slipping down. 

Yesterday, my pen pal and I went for a walk in the Booderee National Forest on a stretch of sand called Green Patch. The sky was cloudy, but the ocean was so ferociously turquoise that it could not hide it’s translucent hues. Our feet, bare in the white sand, walked across sedimentary rocks lined with colors leaching through the soil by the gum trees. And the gum trees grow all the way down to the sea, kissing the salty air with their long fragrant leaves and twisting branches. 


We walk in silence mostly, followed by bursts of random stories usually pertaining to the world around us. As a marine biologist, I often find B stooped down over a tide pool, flipping over rocks or looking for anenomes. This world is very alive for her, and her enthusiasm for the creatures is nearly impossible not to let overtake you. I find a smile on my face every time I check. As the reality of Australia being a home for me settles in, I allow myself to become excited about a place. The desire that is necessary to fall in love with something is there, and I find myself opening to the endless list of uncertainty. 

Our nature count for the day tallies up quickly. We chance upon three separate Wallabies grazing along the beach. The tide pools are full of an assortment of names I can no longer remember, and the sky is full of colorful lorikeets and parrots.  All of this is only a 2 hour drive south from where I plan to reside. It is hard not to be excited about the inevitable approach of Summer. I count myself lucky to be experiencing my third spring of the year, cuddled up in an Australian jumper with my Australian friend. Below are some more photos from our day.

Actinia tenebrosa, Red waratah anenome

Neptune’s Necklace

Before Going Down Under

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I have always wished there was a list for how to gracefully leave a place. A list for who you need to see, what you need to do, and how you need to pack. For me it always seems like a desperate whirl-wind of chasing the people I love around California, unloading everything I own into a giant pile in my parents house, and then making last minute trips to the thrift store to drop off the unwanteds and no-longer-needs before meticulously packing my bags up until the minute I HAVE to get into the car to go to the airport. Because of this wish for a straightforward list, I will try my best to make one later on in this post.

What no one really says about traveling is how hard it is to leave the ones you love. There always seems some kind of glorification around the traveler’s ability to up and leave on the flip of a coin, but the truth is that it is never that easy. Every time you leave a place, you are choosing to put your life with the ones you love on hold. Social media can only go so far to act as a buffer from that separation, and so you share your life through pictures and the occasional facetime. However, it is never easy. Liberating, sure. But easy, no. There is always a tug pulling you back towards the lives of the people you have cared about for your whole lives, whom strangers can never truly stand-in for.

This being said, for many of us, it is worth it. By letting go, we find ourselves. Yeah, yuck, it’s cliche, but in full honesty no one knows who they are until they find space from the people that think they know who they are. And when the traveler gets onto the plane and steps into uncertainty, the only person they have to believe in is themselves. The true traveler recognizes this separation. She can acknowledge the choice she made to travel, and the goodbyes she had to make, and the hellos she will be able to create. And then, in the end, the people who are there when she returns are the ones that are meant to stick around. It’s an unusual test, but it’s just another way to sort through the chaos.

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Without further ado….

Who to see: You usually will have a limited number of days to say your goodbyes. This means you need to be selective about who you say goodbye to. Spend quality time with your closest friends and family and write down their addresses before you go. Everyone loves letters. Do not waste your time on acquaintances. You will probably end up spending more money on coffee and beer than you need to in the days before leaving.

What to pack: 1. Shoes are the most important thing. Do not pack any shoes you can’t walk more than a mile in. I like to bring a pair of boots, sandals, and running shoes to keep up with whatever comes my way. 2. The little black dress. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the black dress. It will love you on the days you can barely move from exhaustion. It can dress up and down. It is lightweight. Everyone loves a black dress (I got mine from Ross.) 3. Enough shorts and shirts and pants not to have to do laundry every day, but not too many that you’re faced with the crippling decision of what to wear every day. I like to bring an assortment of clothes that all match with each other so I can swap shirts and pants accordingly. 4. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, the camping essentials are a must. I never travel without my sleeping bag and a pair of long underwear to get me through long nights. This addendum to the list is bulky, but saves you in the long run by being able to camp instead of book a room. 5. Toiletries, duh, but facial wipes are amazing for long stints without showers. Nail clippers seem to be the friend I always forget, so I’ll throw that up here for fun. 6. A good book. Only one. You will find more as you go I promise. 7. A shawl for the plane. It doubles as a blanket and is an amazing travel companion. I just discovered this one recently.

What to do before you go: 1. Put everything you’re not taking into a cozy storage space somewhere so as not to burden anyone with your belongings. 2. GIVE AWAY EVERYTHING. I mean sure, if you are super thrifty you can throw a garage sale or sell to consignment shops, but trust me the things you have left will only beckon you to come back sooner. The less you have, the more free you are. I cannot stress this enough. 3. Notify your banks that you are leaving…. otherwise you may end up in a foreign country with no money, just saying. 4. Check the visa requirements and read the fine print. If you are doing a work holiday visa, make sure all of your forms are filled out and turned in. If you can only stay in a country for 3 months, make sure your final destination there is near a border for a quick escape (just kidding kind of). 5. Triple check what you packed to make sure you have everything, and then get on the plane and go! Let the stoke fill you up as your stomach drops into “what the hell am i doing?” and then back to “hell yeah, lets do this.” Traveling is always worth it. Always.

I am currently packing up for Australia. The goodbyes have been said, and all that is left is to get myself down to the airport. Stay tuned for the adventure to follow.

 

 

Green. Blue. Gold. Letting Go.

 

Grass Mountain, Santa Ynez
 
The sun was slipping in and out of the clouds in the sky as the sky moved in and out of their lungs as they climbed up the mountain. Her and her friend hadn’t hiked up hills together before, and they were finding the strength and weaknesses within themselves. The poppies beckoned on the hillside, disguising lupine and various wild flowers as a mosaic of color splashed near across the peak. Heat moved its warm fingers across their skin and set it red, blazing with life. From afar, it is hard to pick out the separate flowers, but as they moved closer, they noticed the lupine garnishing the poppies.

Then they were in them. Full force color, bursting from every direction, brighter than anything they had seen in the natural world. It was a scene so obviously beautiful it made them question beauty and what triggers the mind to recognize something as beautiful. “Beauty to me is something that is inevitably going to pass,” she whispered, “it’s as if the moments I cannot capture are the one’s that I process as beautiful.” Her friend smiled as her glacier-blue eyes stared out onto the rolling hills. Together they allowed the scene to run through their bodies filling them with soft-spoken love and adoration and sadness simultaneously.

I’m sure you’ve felt it. The feeling when when you know something beautiful will pass. You want to bottle it up, to capture it, to put it in a container where you can visit it again. That is what makes beautiful things so beautiful. Everything only exists when it does, and then it is gone. The flowers in this photo have since perished. A burst so sudden that the heart nearly jumped at how startling the grandeur is. Just as suddenly they turned to seed and pod and the hills have begun their journey towards gold. She had that feeling too, inside of her. A connection so strong, it seemed foolish not to allow it to happen against all reason. The stranger that grew her into a mountains of poppies the next day vanished in a wildfire. Her own wildfire burning all traces of beauty… “For efficiency’s sake,” she tried to convince herself. 

She had fallen suddenly through words on a screen. An almost stranger. Too good not to be true. He ran aroung nature searching for flowers spread far and wide in between. The bush. She held herself high and floated in this new romance, and suddenly she felt need. She felt fear. She felt vulnerability. She felt herself giving herself. She tried to pull away, to gather all of the pieces slipping through her fingers, but they all laughed as the slid. She believed he was falling too, in his own way. Finally she dropped everything in her hands and opened them to him. “Here, come sit, I will hold you till you’re ready.” He jumped in half-heartedly, unsure of how to proceed.

In his voice she found strings of hope, lacing themselves around her heart in a way she hadn’t felt for years. “Is it possible to let someone see all of my inner-workings?” She said to the stars on her mountain, hoping they would reassure her that she wasn’t too much. In her fear she had begun to wrap her hands around him. It wasn’t too tight, but he couldn’t leave when he needed to and his skin was pinched in places. She knew she was holding on. She was trying to bottle the beauty. She woke up the next morning to find him gone. She was confused, but assumed he would come back. She laid out beds of words for him to lay on and play in, but she made the valleys too deep and uncertain and she forgot the swings sets. She wanted to convince him he didn’t need to be scared. She scared him further.

Then one day she realized he wasn’t coming back. Her mind, naturally conclusive, began to build walls. When it wasn’t looking she would pull down a stone to throw some more of her heart over it in case he decided to find it. She watched the wall go up, solemnly. She watched the flowers wilt one by one. She watched another too-good-to-be-true fade into itself. Saying goodbye to someone she knew was hard. Saying goodbye to someone she wanted to was harder. She closed the chapter of her book and gently placed it on her shelf, hoping she would be able to write more of that story soon. The golden hills sung in the distance, a new kind of beauty. 

Then she remembered her hands. She looked down at them. They were still open. 

Bones

Elk Bone, Montana
Skeleton. A frame work holding something together. The legs on a chair. My legs. Her legs. The legs of the buffalo, strong and sturdy. The stem of a flower, holding the colors up to the sun against gravity. Water flowing in a river bed. The bones in her head. Her head, an entire universe expanding on itself. The clash of past with present with future simultaneously. And stories… So many stories forming on the lips of the musicians on the stage and the limp in the store clerks gait and that fleeting glance of a stranger. She felt her own bones creak under the weight of her sadness and happiness. She was in flux and slipping down the rabbit hole as she opened to her own gifts. 

She had always wanted to be a writer. She had always been scared. She loved run on sentences, that had a million commas, and led into Infiniti because she didn’t like endings; they always meant something that was wouldn’t be. Like the animal of the bone that she held. A plate in the spine of a creature that moved and breathed and danced in the wind. And loved. Maybe this creature loved another creature. Or loved the way it felt when it ran over long hills and the river water splashed on its belly. She loved the way water held her when she lay back and floated off to anywhere in the world. I love the way that water holds me and makes me feel less like my bones and more like everything else. 

She spent her days trying to decipher what was her and what wasn’t and she realized that everything she experienced was her in what wasn’t. So finally, we decided to let them all run free. It was dangerous. The game of depicting the world around you in sounds and smells and sights and feelings all separately in order to piece them together again. Noticing things comes at the cost of awareness and awareness comes with responsibility. Once the bones become an animal, it is impossible to see the bones without them. Her meals had become hands. Hands that planted seeds and hands that harvested them and hands that moved them and cleaned the food and hands that bought it and the hands that cooked and cleaned. The hands that did all of this loved other hands too. Hands love other hands.

The human hand has twenty-seven bones. Fourteen of these are in the fingers. She clasped her hands together around the Elk bone to feel her own. “I am small,” she said to me as I peered into her eyes, watching her slip away into a million other words. We sat together in our bones, growing and decaying at equal rates. She drank a sip of water that slipped through her rib cage and danced through the rivers of her body. I left her there thinking. I could tell the bones were becoming her, and she needed space to fill in all of the words that clung to her own spine and kept her contained in one vessel. She has been fun to travel with. I have never seen the world in such a clear and cluttered way before. It is as if everything has new life again. I ask myself, “Is this what it is to be alone?” often, noticing it is the first time I have been for years. I am alone with her as we learn each other again. She is kind and confusing. She is still mad at me for ignoring her while I tried to play along with ways of seeing the world I didn’t understand, while she sat outside explaining everything in poetry behind a window. 

She always knew how to explain everything that no one else seemed to understand. I just didn’t know how to listen. I didn’t know how to bring her around my friends, though she always drank with us. 

She has known me all along. I feel her slipping back into my bones.

Dreaming


This is for the girls who think in poetry. This is for the people out there who aren’t sure where reality ends and dreams begin. This is for those who are keeping their dreams alive because the same people who told them go ahead, held them back when they did. This is for those dreams. May they live on as long as possible against all reason. 

She was on a bike. The bike was moving. Her body was moving the bike. The ice plant hung to the sides of the road; an unwelcomed welcome guest. Her hips jiggled on the bumps. She felt herself smiling. She wrote in third person. She saw life as a wonderful and fleeting thing and she was never the person she was ten minutes ago. She was always morphing into others. “Oh you’ll find yourself someday,” they all echoed in her ears. “I have,” she said, knowing she was a million different people in one. She wasn’t afraid of the truth. She loved it, she sped towards it, and climbed over the walls protecting it, and asked and dug and ran. She scared people unknowingly because she was a dream they had locked away in some part of their hearts.

She was tired of scaring people, but ordinary conversations didn’t interest her anymore. She realized how fleeting life is one day while watching a dandelion get trampled in the duff. She realized she was made up of the same things. When she was sad, she would lie in the sand, or ocean, or grass, and try with all of her might to dissolve into anything else. Something else. Anything other than that body she had been born into. She used to hate her face for the ways people didn’t look at her. Then she hated her face for the way people did. She was ashamed to be society’s standard of “pretty.” So she hid in every way she could. She fell in love more times than she could count so that she would be able to share some of the things she thought were beautiful in her. 

And she had dreams. Oh boy, she had dreams. But those dreams lived inside her and everywhere around her constantly. Sometimes they would slip out and into the ears of her good friends “I want to go to Australia,” or “I want to fall in love.” Usually they would just sit there around her, playing with her hair, tickling her feet and scratching her belly, hoping that she would recognize them. She would always say “I’m not ready yet,” then skip off into something else.

This is for the dreamers. The one’s whose dreams are begging for attention. The one’s who carry them with them everywhere they go, and see them in everything they see. It is us that will stand smiling at the ends of our lives. We will never regret the risks we took as much as the one’s we didn’t. For you, my dreamers, this is the wick that will keep your candles burning. Let your flames breathe, and when the time comes, set the whole world on fire.

Believing

 

Desert Primrose

 

She sat in the sand to say hello to the flowers. She didn’t expect to see them there amidst such extreme heat and mobile sand. The dunes sang, she could believe that, but for some reason the delicate flowers bursting in humble shades of white and yellow seemed alien to her. She smiled at their bravery and lay back in the warm sand to feel it all. She was happy without him. She was ready to move forward. She was willing to believe in love again. “If the flowers can wait for the rainstorm, so can I,” she said to the sky. Love was a part of her always. It rode on her shoulders where the backpack dug in a little to deeply, and in her shaking hips that moved with the moons, and in the way she held strangers’ eyes for just a moment long enough to show them she cared. Love for her was the desert.

Even though it hurt sometimes, fluctuating between too hot and too cold and none at all, she believed in it. When others would try to warn her that nothing was there, she held onto the hopes knowing a Desert Primrose, or a Diatura was just behind the next Creosote Bush. The sand in her toes reminded her of the sand she would become someday. And all of it was terrifyingly expansive, all of the nothingness was a bunch of small somethingness that transformed daily. Love thrives at night when the truth of itself can dance among the moon, and the light is just light enough to mean something. She believed in it all because she believed in the desert.

Her love was a desert. It held onto itself against all reason. What grew there, grew strong enough to handle the full force of the wind of her emotion, while providing other life shade. She had spikes that protected the places where she grew soft and succulent, and it was rare that she would let people see the delicate parts of her. Lovers had to search for those places. The places where the blossoms sprouted up immediately after a storm, and the timing had to be such that the lover could not be too early or late. Timing. Time. To time. To wait. To be in time. Time moves slower in the desert. As if the places just far enough from the equator and just far enough away from the mountains revolved at a different speed. As if her heart actually sped up and slowed down as love came and went. She believed in it without reason.

She believed in it knowing she would always be thirsty. She believed in it knowing she would have to wait for the storms and wait for the water and wait and wait. She believed in it because the blooms were more spectacular and curious than anything she had ever known. Her love, a desert, was waiting, knowing the secrets that it kept.

Tuning in. Tuning Out

A Mama Buffalo

Always leave the banjo tuned and a full cup of coffee left in the pot, and never look down at your phone while walking over tree fall. The next person who comes along to sing to the sky, holding a warm cup of coffee, just might surprise you with their ability to learn everything from nothing. When that first pitch of their breath hits the cool air around you, you might find yourself shaking a little with the unexpected. Always leave the banjo tuned so they can sing on key.

You sip your own coffee, standing on the edge of a bluff looking over a prairie nestled in between mountains. It nearly aches, the way the river bends through the willows and reminds you that your body is a series of rivers moving from the mountain of your heart. Another note, higher than the Osprey slips into the coffee cup and into your mouth. Warm, it slides out to your fingers and toes in a smile. A small group of buffalo walk along in a seeming dance. They move quickly, slowly, leaving land behind them covered in footsteps. You put your feet in their steps, feeling the flex of their muscle moving their two ton bodies moving your two toned body, pale from winter. 

The banjo plays on, a tinny vibration blooming in the countryside grass. You notice a buffalo never eats an entire grass plant. The world has natural lawn mowers. They are gentle. Gentler than you are. You find yourself wistful for a touch so gentle to take only what it needs, while leaving enough to grow. There are bare places inside of you, forgotten and hidden, where others were not kind. Where you gave more than you had. Then you slip away back into the cup of coffee. The patches of sadness you carry aren’t heavy anymore. They have become scars tucked into the folds of your existence.

But the buffalo keep walking, and the banjo keeps playing, and you are tuned in. 

(Meaningless Meaningful Musings in Montana)