A Backwards Glance

It has been a while. Were we really so intent on getting out there and l-i-v-i-n-g that we missed our annual opportunity to wax on about the beautifully blurry edge between summer and fall? I believe we were.

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It is all crimson and gold now. September’s soft pinks and see-through yellows have come and gone. How come fall is always so fleeting? It’s like one day someone wakes up and takes a big breath in and decides to blow all of the leaves from all of the trees in a single sitting. Done! Clean sweep.

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All of a sudden I want socks, first thing in the morning. If the floor is cold, the bathroom tile is downright icy. Whatever’s mostly concealed underneath the kitchen rugs isn’t much better, but it is quickest to warm up.

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I open the fridge and come face to face with a quart of pineapple gazpacho, partially defrosted and $7 at the farmer’s market last week. Gazpacho? I give an involuntary shiver and slam the door shut. Maybe I will make soup today. Piping hot, puréed until silky smooth, butternut squash soup.

Question: have your flip-flops already been put away for the year? I’d been hoping to eke out another week, but I think it might be time to start rooting around for my riding boots. I poke my head into my closet and emerge with crinkled cognac pull-ons, a new pair of maroon cords, a sweater with some swing, and a pretty rust-colored scarf. I’ve been trying to make a little more of an effort these days. You-just-never-know-who-you-might-meet.

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It feels good to return to the land of the living. Do you know what a big difference a haircut can make? Last week I got mine cut, really cut, and it finally has a discernable style. It’s just about shoulder length (but longer in the front and shorter in the back), and my curls are behaving just the way I’ve always wanted them to. For the first few days, it took me an extra 60 seconds to recognize myself in the mirror, but now I can’t remember not feeling this carefree.

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Here’s what I’ve learned in the last month: being alone might give you the luxury of being able to hear yourself think, but being with people gives you the opportunity to be friendly and warm and human and ALIVE.

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I’ve been dating, really for the first time. It occurred to me the other day that I’ve never actually done this before. This business of meeting lots and lots of people, instead of just zeroing in on one. I would like to zero right in on one, obviously, but for as long as I have to do this, I hope I can appreciate how interesting it is to learn a little bit about all sorts of people. A teacher, a lawyer, a financial advisor, a veterinarian, a barista, a small-business owner, a photographer.

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Three months ago I was reminded that there are more fish in the sea, and oh yes, I could conceivably fall for somebody again. Three days ago I was reminded that sometimes [surprise], I will be the one to walk away, because [sadly]: no sparks. And today, on this misty morning that feels a little too November-y for me, I am reminding myself that there really isn’t any rush, and all I have to do is keep showing up and keep letting myself be seen.

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It is fun to wonder. Last week I wondered about someone I saw all the time, and now I wonder about someone else I suddenly seem to be seeing everywhere. I don’t know why I’m getting such a kick out of feeling so curious, again — but I’m guessing it’s because for so long I just wasn’t interested at all.

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I didn’t need the nutritionist to tell me I was done, when I went to see her on Thursday. “Done” is a relative term, I know, and I’m fully prepared for the occasional rough patch ahead, but I do feel done. Or maybe more specifically: I feel free. Free after 13+ months, and another 7 years before that. Free from the erroneous belief that I can’t and won’t be loved if I’m not so belligerently busy striving to be more disciplined, more athletic, more intelligent, more ambitious, more successful. More, more, more.

I vote we just relax. About what’s for lunch and what’s for dinner; about who we’re going to meet and when we’re going to meet them.

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“Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead has never watched them dancing on a windy day.” -Shira Tamir

“I feel like we give out gold stars to people who get over things quickly. And like any former evangelical over-achiever I wanted my gold star. We want people to heal on a timeline. Yes, yes, that’s terrible but aren’t you over it yet?” -Sarah Bessey

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“When one is pretending, the entire body revolts.” -Anaïs Nin

“Laughter is beautiful. Kindness is beautiful. Cellulite is beautiful. Softness and plumpness and roundness are beautiful. It’s more important to be interesting, vivid, adventurous, than it is to sit pretty for pictures. A woman’s soft tummy is a miracle of nature. Beauty comes from tenderness. Beauty comes from variety, from specificity, from the fact that no person in the world looks exactly like anyone else. I believe women are too hard on themselves. I believe that when you love someone, she becomes beautiful to you. I believe the eyes see everything through the heart — and nothing in the world feels as good as resting them on someone you love. I have trained my eyes to look for beauty, and I have gotten very good at finding it. You can argue and tell me it’s not true, but I really don’t care what anyone says. I have come, at last, to believe in the title I came up with for the book: Everyone is Beautiful.” -Katherine Center

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“It occurred to her there were two parts to being a better person. One part was thinking about other people. The other part was not giving a toss what other people thought.” -Mark Haddon

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“When part of you stops hurting and suddenly you’re yourself again, healthy and whole, only then do you understand that you’ve been in pain for a while.” -Cynthia Hand

“In the end, just three things matter: how well we have lived, how well we have loved, and how well we have learned to let go.” -Jack Kornfield

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“I’m about to make a wild, extreme and severe relationship rule: the word busy is a load of crap and is most often used by assholes. The word ‘busy’ is the relationship Weapon of Mass Destruction. It seems like a good excuse, but in fact in every silo you uncover, all you’re going to find is a man who didn’t care enough to call. Remember men are never too busy to get what they want.” -Greg Behrendt

“There are three possible parts to a date, of which at least two must be offered: entertainment, food, and affection. It is customary to begin a series of dates with a great deal of entertainment, a moderate amount of food, and the merest suggestion of affection. As the amount of affection increases, the entertainment can be reduced proportionately. When the affection IS the entertainment, we no longer call it dating. But under no circumstances can the food be omitted.” -Judith Martin

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“I was always hungry for love. Just once, I wanted to know what it was like to get my fill of it – to be fed so much love I couldn’t take any more. Just once.” -Haruki Murakami

“You know it’s never fifty-fifty in a relationship. It’s always seventy-thirty, or sixty-forty. Someone falls in love first. Someone puts someone else up on a pedestal. Someone works very hard to keep things rolling smoothly; someone else sails along for the ride.” -Jodi Picoult

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“I still remember you as a little girl who overwaters plants because she doesn’t know when to stop giving.” -Trista Mateer

“The lovers…you see them on the street smooching, groping, laughing, hugging, trying to eat one another in a few big bites. Seeing this makes you smile, but there’s also a jab of something else in your heart towards them that’s like discovering a bone in the middle of a bite of a delicious piece of fish. You must stop eating immediately to locate the thing with your fingers and get it out of your mouth before it chokes you. So too the lovers; you see them and smile, but you also can’t help disliking them a little. Disliking them for their obvious joy, completeness, their this-moment-is-all-that-matters-ness. You have a thousand things on your mind, none of them of any importance. The lovers have exactly one thing on their minds and it is more important than anything. The person they are embracing, their all and everything, completely fills the view through their windshield. Chances are, it’s been a while since you felt that crazy about someone, about anything. Seeing them is concrete proof of a glory that is possible but not frequent. You want to linger and watch their happiness. At the same time you want to pass quickly by before it reminds you again with a kick in the soul how wonderful life can be sometimes — just not right now for you.” -Jonathan Carroll

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“Still I get out of bed and say magic / because there are trees outside my window / and somehow that means you and I / get to keep on breathing here together for a while.” -Sarah Certa

“The more I let people be who they are, instead of cramming them into what I need them from them, the more surprised I am by their beauty and depth.” -Shauna Niequist

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“Why wasn’t friendship as good as a relationship? Why wasn’t it even better? It was two people who remained together, day after day, bound not by sex or physical attraction or money or children or property, but only by the shared agreement to keep going, the mutual dedication to a union that could never be codified.” -Hanya Yanagihara

“You are all four seasons rolled into one; you’re like the cold December snow in the warm July sun.” -City & Colour

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“All any of us wanted, really, was to know that we counted. That someone else’s life would not have been as rich without us here.” -Jodi Picoult

{PDX fall via @tombender, foliage tunnel via @young.seeker, Mt. Hood sunset via @hoxiesox, Trillium Bridge + moon via @roarknelson, Mt. Hood moonrise via @justin.watts, Douglas firs via @robstrok, Mt. Hood sunrise @oregonexplored, warm woods via @leiferiksmith, PDX downtown via @megaguire, misty green trail via @jeremy_fisher_, winding road via @alexbaileypdx, Mt. Hood final via @nicholaspeterwilson — all on Instagram.}

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4 thoughts on “A Backwards Glance

  1. “All any of us wanted, really, was to know that we counted. That someone else’s life would not have been as rich without us here.” -Jodi Picoult

    It’s been a while since I wandered these parts. I’m glad you are still here. WordPress would be much less rich if you were absent. ^_^

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