The Flowers in the Trees

There is shelter in the few minutes before our alarm goes off.  When the world is quiet and I forget about the day’s responsibilities.  This is the same way he talks about nature.  About granite rock walls.  Pine trees.  Sand dunes.  Waterfalls.  Dusty dirt roads less travelled.  Morning walks into meadows.

I’ve found that same feeling lying in his arms. 

I kiss his stubbled jaw as he came to consciousness.  In the humbling silence, we dare not raise our voice above whispers.  There is something sacred about the quiet.  We are pilgrims in its temple. We don’t have a lot to say because it is understood that the moment is precious.  We hold each other a little closer.  Breathe a little slower.  Linger a little longer.

When his cell phone starts to ring, it is as though someone un-hit “pause”.  He rolls partially on top of me and starts singing the lyrics to the song.  And just like that, the infinite of the moment is gone.  I burst out laughing.  He does too.

Nose to nose, we start bargaining for more time.  Where moments before, time seemed constant; all of a sudden it felt like time was slipping away from us.  Why must it feel like this?  An ever losing game of catch up.

But even so, each step to the car is slow.  Deliberate.  He holds my hand and I look down at my feet, willing them to move.  I fixate on every detail of the walk.  The stillness of the apartments.  The emptiness of the street.  The cars parked all in line along the sidewalk. 

I can’t recall if the trees had flowers the night before, but I am seeing them now.  Bright purple blossoms glowing in the soft light of the morning. 

He starts the engine and the music comes on.  At 5 mph; it’s a snail’s pace to my car.  I hold his hand in my lap and start to think about geometry.  About how a line is defined by two unique points on the same plane, and how lines extend without end.  As he drove me from his apartment to my car, he turns to me and asks, “Can I see you later?”

And I don’t know what to say to him or if words were even appropriate.  Because all I can think about is the quiet before the alarm, the flowers in the trees, the lamenting song filling the space in the car between his question and my answer, and the linearity of each moment we share together.  If only I can show him, would he need to ask?

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My Mother’s Curves

 

Today, pop songs glorify body parts that daughters inherit from their mother. However, the curve of my mother’s hips were never any envy of mine. She let us know how much she didn’t like how they flared from her narrow waist. Us–her three daughters she borned in the United States–long after the war. Long after ESL classes. Long after summers spent taking the bus up north to pick strawberries for penny wages.

 

She told us stories about the time before the Interstate 15 freeway. How her father packed their whole family into a van and would drive on single lane highways through the California mountains to the middle-of-nowhere-city of Banning. She talked about how those roads curved in and out for miles through what felt like endless undulating countryside. And I would get bored listening to her talk about those childhood afternoons.

 

When I was about seven years old, my mother decided she did not like the curve of my belly. And I told her–at least I didn’t have her big fat hips! But that was before puberty; which set in fast and punishing. Mother Nature’s monthly gift came to me in the fourth grade, along with pimples that carved the shape of my face, and lastly, hips just like my mother’s.

 

That’s when the portioning began. She started restricting my meals. Maybe she thought if I was smaller, I’d be more consumable to my elementary school peers.

 

In middle school, I thought if I ran enough miles, I’d be able to put enough distance between me and her hips. But as I gradually became a better runner, I learned there were only so many things I could run from.

 

So I stopped running from problems and started running to solutions. Solutions that I derived from the pounding of my own heart. It is so much easier to hear it when I am running.

 

My mother is more conscious about details than I am. She kept her house like a model home. When I was in kindergarten, she’d scrutinize the curve of my handwriting if it wasn’t perfectly straight. She seemed to think people would correlate my ugly handwriting to my intelligence. Oddly for her, I quickly rose to the top of my class despite having subpar penmanship.

 

When I grew into my inherited curves, I found that I didn’t hate them the way she hated hers. She wears her curves like a bad accent she can’t hide with her perfect handwriting. I wonder if that is a side effect of growing up as an immigrant woman in the United States. Never feeling like you quite belong in your skin, in your body, in your language because you have to live up to two cultural standards. She tried her best to shield me from feeling all her inadequacies, ironically, by making me feel inadequate. But although our curves are the same; our journey’s are not.

Thank you Daily Prompts

 

 

A 24 Year Old Teenager In Need Of Hiking Shoes

A 24 Year Old Teenager In Need Of Hiking Shoes

As I sat on the dusty log on the side of the trail, fists clenched on my calf and teeth gritted from the throbbing pain of my left ankle, I heard my uncle’s voice from the night before, “You should really invest in hiking gear.” At 24 years old, I still do not heed the advice of my elders. I am terribly obstinate. But more so, terribly young and therefore impervious to caution. I acknowledged my uncle’s words with a glance over my shoulder as I walked out the front door of my grandparents house–not even giving them a full moment’s pause to register.

 

In a lot of ways, I am still a teenager.

 

This was a teenager moment.

 

The Invincible Idealism. The To-Hell-With-Safety attitude. The Do-First-Think-After protocol.

 

That is how I found myself nursing a sprained ankle on a rocky hillside with nothing but a half empty water bottle in my backpack. A combination of luck and youth has been enough to keep me unscathed through most of my risky escapades. But the moment I heard my ankle crack as it rolled under the full weight of my body, I realized the full extent of my actions–running full speed on a decline on loose rocks and dirt in Nike Free Runs–revealed that I was far worse than a teenager. I was a stupid teenager.

 

After ten minutes to allow the initial shock of the pain to subside, I pulled myself up and limped the rest of the 1 mile down to the bottom of the trail. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope that the pain and swelling would go away and that I’d be left with a sore ankle. For a couple hours it didn’t seem like a big deal. I went to my grandparent’s house. I helped my grandma clean by sweeping and mopping the floors. By 3:30 PM, however, the pain that had slowly dulled in the early afternoon was back and I couldn’t walk without limping.

 

When I got home at 4:30 PM and finally took off my shoes and socks, my ankle was an unnatural blue and purple.

 

To say I was not stoked would be an understatement. I have a half marathon in 3 months that requires me to train. I have a job that requires me to be constantly on my feet for many hours. I have a goal to do a sunrise hike each month that I would like to accomplish.

 

No. I am not stoked at all.

 

The only silver lining I can see to getting an ankle sprain is that I really don’t have an excuse not to practice my writing this month. If I am going to be benched for the next few weeks, may it be with a laptop/journal in hand!

Can I Do It In My Underwear?

She spoke like a politician, painting a perfect picture of our bachelorette pad. That’s what she called our two bedroom apartment the first month we moved in together in the beginning of September. Shortly after that, she got into a committed relationship. It took all of 2 months.

It isn’t that I was surprised it happened. My friend is a total catch. But it happened quickly and I just didn’t expect how it would affect my being able to walk around the apartment in my underwear. That was the hardest thing to give up. Because nothing screams bachelorette pad more than optional clothing in the shared living space.

Don’t get me wrong. He comes over maybe twice a week–hardly infringing on my pants-less mornings/evenings. But I find that in adulthood, one feels entitled to do what they want–when they want. And when one can’t, well, that’s when the adult diapers are required for the adult brat-fest about to be put on.

I am joking, of course. But maybe I’m not. Maybe its all the overtime I’ve been doing at work. Maybe I want to come home and not have to put on pants just because her boyfriend is over. Maybe it’s my period. Maybe I am the American Voter disillusioned by the glittering generalities of my elected representative. (LOL that was an incredibly terrible metaphor that took me too long to think up.)

I admit, I have not been the most helpful bachelorette pad buddy. She bounces around ideas with me to improve the visual aesthetic of our apartment. I often have nothing to contribute in ideas. I mean, that’s because I’ve got the taste of a tumblr browsing teenager. Her taste is a little more high brow, sophisticated and from the cover of a Pottery Barn catalog.

No one told me decorating was something adults had to worry about.

They told me there’d be bills to pay. Jobs to do. Responsibilities to be met. Careers to determine. Dreams to chase.

But decorating?

At least I can do it in my underwear.

Adulthood in a Walmart Aisle

Yesterday, I spent an hour in Walmart because I was unable to tear myself away from the aisle with the Twinkies and Hostess Cupcakes. And I couldn’t help but think about how adulthood has been a complete circle for me. From sneaking extra dessert into my elementary lunchbox when my mom wasn’t looking to now standing in the junk food aisle after filing my income tax for the first time as a single independent adult, rationalizing the calories in my head. Because this is why children wish to grow up so quickly, right? To be able to decide when they can have extra dessert.

This self-autonomy thing is tricky business. All my life, my parents’ default answer was ‘No’ whenever I asked them for anything. I hated the word ‘No’. But when you are 24 years old, employed, and living on your own–you find out very quickly how to overuse ‘Yes’ and you have to learn to be frenemies with ‘No’. That means parenting your own damn self–and I’ve found out that I am rather a stubborn child.

No, I did not leave with any cream-filled pastry last night. Instead, I bagged two cans of Pringles, a bag of Kettle Cooked potato chips, and a box of chocolate.

They did not taste nearly as satisfying as how I imagined they would.

C’est la vie.

That’s another thing about being an adult. Being able to handle getting let down by the decisions you make. There’s nothing more humbling than accepting you’ve fucked up for no one’s fault but your own. For example, that box of chocolate I bought? I left it in my car at work today and by lunch time the chocolate was ready to be poured like hot fudge over a sundae. Except, I didn’t have a sundae.

But my favorite thing about what I’m doing with my life right now? Helping little girls achieve their dreams by buying their Girl Scout cookies. Destiny fulfilled.