holaaaaaa


sunset 9:12Here I am, sitting in the dining room of a small Spanish grandmother, looking at a silver plaque of “La Ultima Cena de Jesus” (The Last Supper) whilst a cool breeze blows across my shoulders. It’s bright out — surprisingly less humid than the past four days — and I can hear the neighbors chatting over the lazy sounds of the occasional car passing by. Concha (who, judging by the many many many depictions of Jesus around here, is Catholic) is in Jerez visiting her sister and has left us her home for the next few weeks. Here. In Cadiz, Spain.

It still doesn’t feel real, honestly, that I’ll be in this city for another two weeks before heading up to Barcelona, then to Brussels. My mediocre Spanish skills, however, are very real. I studied the language until I was 20, but that was four years ago, and it’s disappointing how little of it stuck. But every moment I spend here, with my brother-in-law’s family, I improve. It’s out of necessity, really, since their English skills are worse than my Spanish ones. It’s like everyone says: I understand much more Spanish than I can speak, which results in me understanding entire conversations but being able to add very little. If you didn’t know better, you’d think the only words I know are “sí” and “me gusta.”

I’ve spent two of the past four days at the beach. Or, more accurately, floating in the ocean for as long as I can until the sun sets and I get cold. I’m so used to the frigid waters of Pacific Ocean on the Oregon and Washington coasts, so actually getting in the ocean is such a treat, and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna waste it. It tastes sooo salty (fun fact: I got some up my nose and it hurt like hell but suddenly my sinuses were very clear, so there’s an upside to everything) but all that extra salt makes me buoyant, and I’m getting a kick out of watching the sun set over the Atlantic whilst I prop my feet up over the salt water. The sunsets here, y’all. The sunsets.

So much has happened, so here’s a synopsis: eggs, potatoes, smoked paprika, white fish, gelato, humidity, a store called la cucaracha, tinto de verano, mediocre (and shy) Spanish, broken English, beach, sunset, more beach, boats, more sunset, mangoes, more mangoes (fun fact: the mangoes they sell here are almost as good as the ones we bought off the street in India, but I think these come from Brazil), and just a touch of jet lag.

I’d forgotten how exhausting it can be to live in another country for a while, but I think my Spanish is improving daily and I’m honestly enjoying not really knowing what’s going on anyway. This entire world is catching fire (both literally and figuratively) lately, so I’m allowing myself to ignore all of that at least a little bit and just enjoy my time abroad.

And now, I head to the beach once more. ¡Adios!

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Rain, Rain, You Can Stay


Rain makes me write poetry. Well, more specifically my professor makes me write poetry, but rain definitely helps me get into the mood. On a semi-related note, I already misplaced my brand new copy of The Complete Works of Sylvia Plath. Way to go, Caps. Clean your room.

Anyway, we were given an assignment in class to write a poem with a bunch of requirements (I’ll spare you, but I’ll post the poem below. It’s a rough draft so don’t you dare get sassy).

This week has been good because poetry.

 

OCEAN

This body, free and cold
has the arms of a goddess
who softly abducts shells, kidnaps crabs and
molds motes around castles in the sand.

Quietly sloshing at the surface, licking toes,
she seduces young couples
who sneak to the cliffs and kiss from here to eternity.

Diving, bubbling, shimmering,
a siren stealing treasure chests from sunken ships.
Her fingertips
like tiny tentacles
graze a sailor’s chest
and pull him
down
her song fading to silence as water replaces air.

She looks like peace.
Yawning, she captures, entrances, drawing all to her feet
promising darkness and serenity, yet
forgetting to mention the loneliness of her depth.

So we bob along, and some disappear,
tiny toys in her vastness.

I’m Nine Again


I was that kid who literally shoved her nose in a book and didn’t take it out until she’d flipped cover to cover. Most of my childhood memories are centered around lying on my couch, feet up, reading a book. On sick days, I’d make blanket forts in the living room and hide away, reading Zoo Books or Ranger Rick magazines.
I think we all lose a little of that as we grow up. Our day demands more studying and working, and allows for less free time. We get caught up in ourselves and our relationships, good or bad, and we forget that what really made us happy was that time alone, practically upside down on the sofa, reading Harriet the Spy, Tom Sawyer, Harry Potter.

And then this weird thing happens. We somehow come back around to those simpler times and remember how full our life was with them. Books fill that void, stop that gushing sorrow we feel in our heart, as a cork would stop a leaking rowboat in some terrible cartoon.
I accidentally found that 9 year old inside of me today. It took the end of a year-long relationship and a trip to the ocean to coax her out, but it’s been a long time coming, really.

That little girl is my personal Jesus. Because where some pray frequently, as I have occasionally, to find comfort and calm, I reach for stories and memoirs to pull me into their world and out of mine. But the escapism I get from books doesn’t lead inevitably to a denial of my problems, but more to a solution. Somehow, by forgetting them for a few hours, I work them out in the back of my mind. It feels good, lately, to let that happen.

As a child, I rode the bus 20 minutes home from school, then walked 3/4 of a mile to my house. I would read a book on the bus and, not wanting to put it away for even ten minutes, continue reading as I walked down my street. I lived out in the country, and rarely had to worry about cars driving past, so I could walk without incident. I have to admit, though, my walk would take twice as long when I had a book in hand. I barely noticed and definitely never cared.

I hadn’t done that in at least ten years until today. We’re staying at a house by the ocean, about a 15 minute walk from the beach. We had a beach house in the Puget Sound until I was about 10, and coming back here is so wonderfully nostalgic. The air smells briny, so much better than in California or Hawaii, and the water is too cold to enter but I always do anyway, like I’m still that little kid who didn’t care.  My mom, sister and I went wore our swimsuits and brought towels and books down to the water this afternoon, but I got cold after about an hour and decided to walk back to the house. It was nice to have some time with my thoughts, but after a while I really wanted to keep reading my book. So I did. And it felt wonderful. As if that little girl, so impatient to find out what happened next, just jumped out of me.

I don’t ever want that girl to go away. She’ll hide, maybe for years, but I’d like to think she’s here to stay.

The Sea


In the waves, see a million miles of color.
‘Neath the waves, the fish dash, dive for cover.
And the greens and the blues
Mix together to create a hundred hues

I wanna paint the sea.
Oh, cuz there’s so much to see, yeah there’s so much to see
It won’t wait for me
I gotta paint the sea.

On the shore, the sun beats down in summer
Empty sand, there is no place for cover
Watching the greens and the blues
Swirl around playing a game they’ll never lose

I wanna jump in the sea.
Oh, but there’s somewhere to be
Yeah there’s somewhere to be
It won’t wait for me
I wanna jump in the sea.

On the dock, I feel it crash beneath me
Feel the vibes – how can it feel so pretty?
and it moves, it moves on through
Through my soul and seems to pull out all of my blue

I wanna feel the sea
Just like it can feel me
Yeah like it can feel me
Can you wait for me?
I wanna feel you, sea.