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. 

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Falling In Love With Strangers

Ojai Farmers Market, Roots Organic Farm

In the blank spaces, imagination rushes in to create what it will. It is as if there is no choice but to fall into the void left by unknowns. That first time your eyes meet another’s, their color flashing into yours and staying a moment if you are lucky. Opia n. “The ambiguous intensity of eye contact with a stranger,” pours a warm rush of adrenaline to spike your heart rate and make you gulp. At this moment the other person is pure potential. They are everything you ever wanted and never wanted simultaneously, and you are not sure whether to approach them or let your fantasy be the only reaction you ever had. There are unexpressed parts of you that begin to bloom, hoping someone will notice them and honor them. This stranger could be their scapegoat! Though the fear of not being accepted had an equal weight of dread attached. So you sit there stuck in the middle of a “what-if” and decide to walk away. The final “what-if” lingers on your fingertips as you create stories that you trail behind you. 

I realize the stories you and I both write. I, maybe more so, end up designing narratives so vast and detailed I end up loving people I have never met. My weakness is the men who write. Whether it is songs, or essays, or letters, words are the way I process my world. I find myself writing to strangers, waiting for the response that triggers me and keeps me close, and pulls me closer. Closer to them and closer to myself. I find myself opening unintentionally, as if my inner world has been begging to be seen. Maybe we all have inner worlds that have been hidden because we don’t think they are safe in the open, and the attention of a stranger ignites hope in those worlds. Our stories end up with new potential to run in a completely unpredictable direction.

The unpredictable becomes an addiction. And the lines across the screen from a stranger you don’t know, and the words on the page from a friend you are learning, and the random shirts and orchids left on your bed, and all of the art of the dance keeps you dancing. Though you would love to find a partner, you are happy with the ones you have had. There hasn’t been one yet who could pick up on all of the tempo changes and wide ranges of emotions that are within you. So you wait and dance your own dance, flailing limbs and all, hoping that you might booty bump a stranger accidentally that can climb the mountains, and sing the songs, and love your friends with you. 

Falling in love with strangers can happen daily, monthly, minute by minute. It hits you at the moment you feel recognized. When it does you’ll find yourself running, either to or away from whatever caught your attention. If it is that glimmer in their eye, or the way they used the word “Ranunculaceae,” lean in and breathe. For all of the negative “what-ifs” there is the what-if of never trying. There are the good maybes and the bad maybes. Maybe the human on the other side of the hemisphere has a thing or two to teach you about hard to get Or maybe you feel so cherished and loved, you aren’t sure you care about how they loo. Or maybe your stranger snores, and maybe they can’t carry on a conversation in public, maybe they are so caught up in their own egos that they run on chasing strangers to achieve a storm of raining hearts falling behind them. But maybe they’re the ones with rain buckets out waiting to catch you and your storm where you are dancing. 

This is why I fall in love. This is why I don’t mind admitting it. This is why I run and jump for that triple spin pirouette and end up falling and bruising both knees only to get up again. This is why I let love go. I hold onto the hope that one day there will be that crazy stranger who understands. Because I understand that no one really understands, and the gentle door left open in that stranger’s curiosity is what will keep you alive. This is an invitation to all the strangers to go find the other strangers. Whether your connection is through words or music or punching in numbers for the boss man, let it shine out so that glimmer in your eyes means something.

When you get caught, don’t fight it. If you can’t dance their dance, run to get a breath of fresh air and jump back into your own. There is only one thing you really have to remember. No matter what, no matter how long you end up staying strangers or lovers or friends or anybodys with your stranger, never never lose your curiosity. Each person is a universe that you will never know fully. So jump dive and dip into that longing glance. It is yours.