Today.

One time, it rained in Denver.

And I spent that raining day planted in front of a wall of windows in the middle of the city. And I drank an entire pot of decaf coffee, which the baristas brewed just for me. I was visited briefly by a friend and our conversation was light and easy. Thor made me an almond milk cappuccino worthy of a gold ribbon. 

This spot – everything outside of it – is deliciously gray.  The buildings, the parking meters, the dead bushes that greet you, even the cars – gray. And I’ll take it today.

People walk to and fro – smiling, shuffling, yelling, briskly, purposefully, talking, warm, and cold, new, ancient, alive, walking-dead.

I hear pieces of conversation here and there.

It’s a good thing. All of it.

This has no glorious end. No profound deeper meaning. I am simply grateful for today. And the gray. And the life that happens no matter where you go.

(smallish) Adventures in Adulthood

Once upon a time, I woke up before the sun with the express intent of doing responsible things all the day long. I showered and cleaned my room and spent time with God, and then ventured downstairs to eat a most grown-up breakfast of fried eggs with avocado while I waited for my laundry to dry. I finished up said laundry by 8 o’clock and left the house feeling entirely productive and generally good about the day.

Then there was traffic – a thing which I had entirely forgotten about until I sat still on the interstate for half an hour longer than anticipated. I did eventually reach the street where my coffeeshop is located and here found a new dilemma – parallel parking.

I can parallel park. My dad taught me how. I passed that portion of my driver’s test with flying colors. I’ve parallel parked before – beautifully, I might add, a parking job worthy of a gold star. Today? Today, I found a parking space that gave me plenty of space on either side so that I had room for error. I flipped on my turn signal, stopped when my steering wheel was aligned with the steering wheel of the car in front of my parking spot, and then, I realized a line of cars was waiting for me. I know this is okay – I know this is what happens when you parallel park, but I suddenly became aware of the fact that I was keeping all of those people from getting where they needed to be.

I could be the reason someone was late.

I felt like getting out of my car and personally apologizing to everyone. Of course, that would make them even more late, not to mention that it would be all around illogical. So, I just resolved to park as quickly and efficiently as I could. I slowly backed up, turned my wheel at just the right moment, and ran over the curb.

I then waited, with the back two feet of my car lodged on the sidewalk, watching, mortified, as dozens of cars glided past and I imagined everyone of them pointing and laughing. I’m pretty sure none of them even noticed,  the girl with her car on the sidewalk, or cared, for that matter, that she was there. My imaginings were vivid nonetheless.

The light up the street eventually turned red, the vehicles of mockery stopped, and I pulled out and re-parked my car. Twice.

This ordeal was followed by two rather uneventful and mostly productive hours at the coffeeshop. And from there, I went to Whole Foods, where I accidentally tried to buy the tester lotion.

I ended my morning with the carwash I’ve needed for a week. Dad told me about this carwashing-place… I guess it’s just called a carwash… near the house that does an excellent job for not a lot of money, so I stopped there.

Apparently, going to a car wash is an exercise in social skill. No one told me this.

I pulled up to the lot to find several little stations equipped with vacuums and other frightening looking tubes and spray bottles. I wanted something cheap. And generally, stations with frightening tubes do not translate to cheap. Unsure of what to do, I decided just to drive about 3 miles per hour around the lot until I found some clear direction. Then, fortune of fortunes, I saw the entrance to an automatic wash. Relief flooded as I drove up to the little box that takes your money, and dread flooded as I realized the box was taped off. Did this mean I had to face the expensive stations and their vacuums?

I backed up in dismay and was simply going to drive away with a dirty car, but just as I turned my wheel to leave, a worker jogged to my car. I felt increasingly awkward. First, because the poor guy had to jog to my car due to the fact that I do not know the rules of fancy car washes. Second, because it took him a ridiculous amount of time to jog to my car. He asked if I wanted a car wash. I was strongly tempted to say no and leave. Instead, I said I wanted something simple and cheap, he wrote something on a receipt, handed it to me, and directed me through the entrance I had tried to use before. “Just drive through,” he said, “then pull around, and you can pay inside while we dry it.” Sounded easy enough.

Wrong.

Before you get any sort of cleaning done to your car, there are these precarious tracks that you have to maneuver your tires into. There is a kind attendant to laugh at you as you try in vain to guide the beast that is your car onto those tiny tracks. Once you undertake that feat, that kind attendant pelts your car with a water gun and slaps pink, sudsy stuff all over it. Meanwhile, you sit in your car trying desperately to remember if the receipt guy had told you to stay in the car or not. About the time you’ve convinced yourself that he said not to stay in the car, it lurches forward and you’re sucked into a machine designed, I’m sure, to clean your car. What the machine actually accomplishes is making you feel like you’re going to throw up. And die. After this torture devices finishes its work, it spits you out into the middle of a lot without so much as an arrow on the ground to direct you. Here, I resorted again to driving 3 miles per hour as that seemed to work last time. Sure enough, the receipt guy spotted me in my confused state and waved me over to one of the frightening stations I had been trying  so hard to avoid.

I parked my car. What now? Pay. Pay is what you do now. How do I pay? Inside, he said go inside to pay. Okay. This is doable. I got out of my car… and left the door open – I still don’t know why I did that. Paying took all of five seconds. What now? No.Idea. I just hoped they’d be done and went back to my car. The door was still open. I’m an idiot.

Did you have a question?” asks one of the gentlemen wiping down my car.

Yes. What do I do? I’ve obviously never left my house before. Had I actually said that, they may have laughed. I didn’t say that though, I just held up my receipt, “She said you’d need this.” He took it and I looked around for a second, then got into my car, shut the open door, and immediately wished I’d chosen to do something else. I had to sit behind that finally closed front door for the three minutes it took them to finish drying my car. I had to sit there, and just keep thinking about how I could have done so many other, less awkward things instead. In those three minutes, however, I did come to the very important life decision to use the carwash at the gas station for the rest of my days.

For Brittany

Coffee, cheesecake, two forks –
decedent indulgence,
chapters to read,
chapters to write,
and conversation to fill the gap –
conversation of grandeur
of chocolate and artwork
of traveling and dreams and words
– words to written,
words to be said,
the volumes and volumes
of books to be read,
the miles and miles
of places to go –
of sunsets to see
of people meet,
how every inch of the land
calls to me
and wants to be heard,
to be tasted and seen –
and there’s not
enough time,
enough time,
we decide
and worry wells up
from some deep place inside
for what of adventure?
of far off new places?
of places some yards down the road?
And what of the volumes
and volumes of books!
Rise up! Seize the day!
Run too far! Fly away!
or, just live well today,
be present,
read a word,
write a word,
share cheesecake
and sip coffee,
with a lovely soul –
Take a breath,
in the end
we’ll be fine.

The Year of no Snow

I think that capitalization rules are really stupid. Just so you all know. I just sat here for far too long trying to decipher which words should be capitalized in that title and which shouldn’t, and I finally decided that I don’t care what the rules are, I’m capitalizing what looks good capitalized. So, I did. Though, looking at it now, I think I followed the rules anyway.

Now that that’s settled – I’m convinced that it’s not going to really snow ever again – not this winter anyway (it sounds better to say “ever” though – far more dramatic and definite.)

I woke up at 6:30 – a sheer miracle – to find beautiful snow that coated most everything and was still falling. My heart sang and so did my mouth and I scampered around the house putting on cozy clothes – like sweaters and fluffy socks and slippers over my fluffy socks – and making coffee and oatmeal and anything else that would produce a picturesque steam. Then I read for a bit (and then I maybe broke my own rule about not going back to sleep two hours after I get up and fell asleep for a bit) and (once I woke up from possible sleep) I sat down to transfer the following poem to this here nog in hopes that the end, not the beginning would be true:

This is the year of no snow,
the clouds themselves have said it’s so.
My brother won’t believe them,
he thinks they only tease him,
his snow clothes wait eagerly by the door,
“Today’s the day!” he cries, “I’m sure!”
still no snow comes, no not one flake,
but hopefulness he will not shake –
Clouds come every other day,
only turning the sky dreary grey,
and on occasion bringing London-rain,
icy cold and ever the bane
of the small boy sitting on the floor
waiting, only hoping more,
for the world to taste again sweet white
become lost in it through the night
and wake in morning’s early light
to proclaim
“It snowed!”

I never got to actually transferring it until just now, however, due to my utter disappointment at the snow then melting outside my window. I wrote this a while ago – at the beginning of this snowless winter. It’s written on a coffee-stained index card and came as a random stab of insanity, or, if I’m lucky, brilliance – or maybe just semi-goodness. Regardless of its quality or the fact that I wrote it in something of a spaz attack, I wrote it because I’m nearly convinced that it will not really snow this winter, but part of me really very much wants to hope. Part of me has given up – and part of me wrote that poem, hoping to one day wake in morning’s early light and proclaim, “it snowed!”

I had thought that was this morning – and it kind of was, I did actually say “it snowed!” just like I hear it in my head everytime I read that poem – I even repeated the few lines I remembered from it while I scampered around trying to create a snowy atmosphere inside to match my hopes for the outside. But it melted. It melted and everything became dreary again and I lost hope of snow again, but I dug that coffee-stained index card out of the recesses of my desk – because part of me wrote that poem.

 

Adventures

I think my heart and soul had a conversation in the middle of the night and came to the consensus that they needed adventure. I think that when I woke up this morning, I knew I would not be content to sit at home or even to sit in a coffee shop. I was antsy all day – dancing around on my toes as I stumbled through the school work that was far from my mind though it was right in front of my face. I knew I there was a car waiting in the garage, its keys on my key chain. I made a CD for today – 21 songs, 1.2 hours total – I knew that the short jaunt to the grocery store and Karen’s Book Barn would not take long enough to listen to more than a few songs, but I put 21 on it anyway. I think I decided with every song after four or five that I would, in fact, listen to the whole thing – be gone long enough to listen to the whole thing.

So, I left. Gathered up my poems and other various things to occupy my time and left. It’s been London-raining all day for those of you who didn’t know. London-raining, Maggie, that’s not really a word. Ah, but it’s a Maggie word. London-raining is when the rain doesn’t fall, it just is – a continual mist that settles over everything and and makes the brown grass and grey sky deliciously sad and eerie. It’s been London-raining all day and London-rain is best enjoyed outside, where you can really take it in – London-rain is not to be observed, it is to be experienced. So, I parked purposefully far away from the coffeeshop so as to experience, not merely observe. And I half-danced, like a very little girl, with my hands in my pockets and my feet wet from the puddle I’d managed to not-avoid in a glorious, messy splash all the way to the door of LaGrange Roasters, which was locked, because they were closed. They have odd hours, no one’s sure why, I don’t really care why, aside from the natural curiosity, but I can’t ever figure out how to arrive when they’re open. So, I got back in the car and sat in something of a conundrum.

There is a point in every typical novel or movie called (by myself and probably a few other people) “the point of no return.” It is the point at which the hero fully, finally embraces the story – leaving all cares, concerns, and cacidrosis by the wayside. I’m not really sure that last word is used in the proper context, but I found it and it completed the alliteration and it sounded cool, so it’s there. Go ahead, look it up, you know you have to now. Anyway, I turned the car on, pulled (expertly) out into the street and drove to the grocery store. That – that was my point of no return – my abandon to the story. It wasn’t really that big of a deal, I had to go the grocery anyway, but the original plan was to sit for hours in a coffeeshop and then go to the store on my way home (technically, out of my way home, but you get the idea.) I decided as I muddled my way through a four-way stop and turned left, not right, that today was not going to go as planned in the most marvelous of ways. The Roasters being closed confirmed what my heart had known since this morning – sitting still for an hour would not satisfy the restless that settled in myself, I needed – not wanted – adventure.

Restless comes on purpose. It comes so we don’t forget what it’s like to do something for no reason at all, so we don’t forget what it’s like to have the music too loud, to roll down the windows even though it’s ridiculously cold, so we don’t forget laughing until it hurts just because, don’t forget being a little girl or little boy playing games of pretend, running for your life from an imaginary don’t forget running through puddles, walking intentionally through the rain, walking barefoot through field that could potentially injure you uncaring of the burs and briers, don’t forget the excitement of taking a road that leads no one knows where, of jumping off the roof, of throwing aside grammatical rules and writing a grotesquely long run-on sentence. Restless made its fitful home in me today and that is why I went to kroger first and bought Mary’s Gone Crackers and began eating them as I drove back to mainstreet and parked too far away yet again and walked to Karen’s Book Barn, which has normal hours. My heart raced as I bought waited for my latte, anticipation and excitement bubbling delightfully within me. “I’m in love,” I thought as the feeling rose and a smile would not leave my face, “I’m in love with God and adventure.” I laughed. Out loud. For no apparent reason. In the coffeeshop. Then I took my latte and left, skipping now, through the London-rain, to the car. Into the driver’s seat (still an odd concept for me)shoes off, music on, engine on, back up, pull out, turn right, drive. I took at least four roads I’ve never driven, going as far on them as I dared, then turning around and going back, singing loudly and sipping my latte (technically against the “drive cautiously so you don’t kill yourself” rules, but I was still careful.) I’m not rebellious, not the kind of person who breaks rules like ‘don’t drink (any beverage) and drive’ and ‘drive the speed limit,’ I am, however, the kind of person that knows driving a small bit over the speed limit on a country road as long as you feel entirely in control of the vehicle will not kill you – and will rarely get you a ticket because how the heck is a police man supposed to patrol a ‘holler.’ I am cautious, I am, however, fast. Nothing spectacular happened (aside from my nearly hitting a mail box) – I simply drove for miles down unfamiliar roads and relished the London-rain and sang loudly and carelessly and drank coffee. There were no revelations – just doing unexpected things, flying by the seat of my pants, enjoying music and driving fast and not knowing what’s around the next bend – delighting in creation and thus in its Creator. Adventure. For no reason other than I needed to.

I ended my trip by driving in a very large unnecessary loop that took my past my Grammy and Pa’s old house. I was very proud of the fact that I made the loop seamlessly (I know my sister is now laughing at my extensive directional dysfunction.) As I came to the entrance of the subdivision where this home resides, I decided I was not yet done being so full I could burst and drove right passed my turn, taking the same exact loop again. The restless has gone for now, but I almost await its return because it calls for new adventure.