the winter of our discontent.

for some reason this phrase has been rolling around in my head for months. i’ve been turning it over like a stone and it feels smooth and comfortable in my hand. yet i have no idea what it means to me right now. but this i know.

i’m a summer girl. always have been. i love the heat and the potential for being outdoors as much as possible.  the kids being home. growing flowers and vegetables in my garden. summer romances. immersing myself in bodies of water with as much frequency as possible. vacations. its truly my favorite time of year.

this has been a weird/hard/tumultuous/revealing/humbling/gratifying/growing/loving/learning/fucked up year. it just has. i’ve never had more personal growth, for sure. i’ve forged new bonds that run deep. i’ve been forced to let people go. sometimes brutally. sometimes kindly. and sometimes in unspoken ways.

ive let people in. into the darkest crevices and pathways of my brain and my heart. i’ve opened up and allowed myself to feel in ways i’ve not allowed in a long time. i’ve tried new things. expanded my knowledge. tested myself in lots of new ways.

i’m freaking tired. but the year, its not over.

so winter.

there is a certain poetry to winter in the midwest. everything goes dormant. and in the spring, you get a whole new fresh beautiful look at the world. and you are so THANKFUL for the color after living in a state of grey for so long. but this year. this year i’m overwhelmed by the technicolor my life has been for the last 9 months. its been a bombardment of sights and sounds and lessons. i think i’m ready for some monochromatic views.

im actually looking forward to soft quiet evenings hushed by the blanket of snow outside. of nightfall coming early and tucking you in. of cold air streaming through the oh so small gap in the window. just enough to chill your face and let you breathe in the cold crisp smell of winter. of running while its snowing, in the dark because its beautiful. the season of soups and stews and comfort foods and family time.

i may have a while to go before i break out on to whatever side of things i’m supposed to be on. i’m hoping as i give way to winter, i’ll also give way to the final letting go, and when spring awakens i hope to be in a new space and time. one open and ready to accept the lessons i’ve been given. 

camping.

i have a love hate relationship with camping. this comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me even a little. i want to be more granola. i do like the outdoors. A LOT. but camping. man. it’s . . something different.

camping is not something i’m new to. as a kid we camped quite a bit. i vaguely recall the first camping trip (and lord knows I probably will get some of this wrong), but i believe we went up to cape cod. i know there is a picture of my mom at a picnic table with daisy’s and a bottle of champagne. i believe these were bribes. i dont really recall much from that trip but here are memories i DO have from camping.

bugs. heat. boys. camp stores.

we camped lot when I was growing up. It was always hot. It was always buggy and there were always boys. My role was to sullenly help set up camp and then walk the campground in my cutest outfit and look for hot boys. period. i always particularly liked the camp stores. I dont know why. but they all smelled the same and every time I walk in to one I am reverted back to 14. my camping trips to the east cost are punctuated by summer boyfriends. i even remember some of their names.

i made some female friends along the way a well. it was always interesting to see how other girls dressed and acted outside my little sphere. one friend i ended up pen-pal’ing with for several years and eventually flew to CANADA! when I was 14 to visit her. (and we are now fb friends, I love the internet!)

so those were fun things as a kid. boys. friends. once i hit about 17 i opted out of any family trips and my camping days were . . i thought… behind me.

then i met steve and on our second date he took me to Chain O Lakes to go canoeing. Chain O was where he had camped a lot with his family, and so had I, so it was a familiar spot for both of us. eventually we started camping up there together. camping was now better because beer was involved. this is me right before i flipped him off. i was still not a great camper at this point. plus i think i was hungover.

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so for my married life we took the kids camping. We camped in the U.P., we camped in NC. and we camped at Chain O. it always felt like a lot of work but steve liked it and the kids liked it. and i drank beer.

in the next phase of my life i became part of a camping family of 7 and that took on a whole new realm. short trips took two pick up trucks, 3 tents and 4 coolers. and beer. but moments like this made it enjoyable. Image

Ok enjoyable is a relative term because what you see right there folks is MUD. That is 3 of 4 boys playing in MUD. MUD! I”m having anxiety just looking at the photo. But look at those faces. Those are happy kid faces. Eventually we took to borrowing a family RV and camping started looking like THIS:

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And one would think that it would be easier but it was still a lot of work. Just somewhat more efficient.

so its been a few years since we did any camping at all, and feeling guilty i proposed a camping trip with my boys. just me and my two boys. this weekend was our field test. test our current system (we have none) and asses things.

we managed. we had a good time. and if i’m going to do this again soon (which i’ve promised) i DO need a system. it simply has to be an efficient process or i just cant . .

so. i’m sitting at Chain O Lakes last night. and its pretty full. fortunately we had found a nice spot in a pretty quiet corner. and i’m running all these years of camping through my head. and i’m looking around at all these other people and i’m trying to figure out the ALLURE of camping. because camping is essentially this: you pack up stuff from your house, and put it in your vehicle. and drive out to some other place. and set up a flimsy structure or two that serve as your temporary home. and you put your things in it. and then you do the things you do at home (sleep. eat. build fire- possibly) but everything is harder. you want dinner? oh well build a fire and wait for the coals to get hot. making coffee takes about an hour. or at least it did for me. even with half a bottle of accelerant, it takes awhile to get the fire hot enough to boil water. meanwhile, bugs are trying to eat you alive. so you coat yourself in chemicals to avoid that. need to go to the bathroom. well you get to walk a pace to get there. shower? possibly its warm. possibly some ungodly spider is joining you. the floor is ALWAYS wet and getting your clothes on without dragging them through the murkey water on the floor is indeed a real talent. and guess what? not everyone takes their straightener. so you do get judged. not by me. i take mine.

but there i sat. drinking my beer, (out of a glass. there is no need to abuse good beer just because you are camping) and was just kind of baffled by everyone around me. THIS is what humans are doing for fun. ok.

but still. there i sat. because there is something about it that feels . .  good? Maybe its simply providing an experience for my boys that they enjoy.  if their dad could do this, would i? i’m honestly not sure. but there are times i think about taking off by myself for some headspace time and I always picture taking a tent and taking off. so there must be something about it i enjoy.

but i know what else i enjoy. room service. down pillows. and a good balcony overlooking the city.

its good to know that while i feel more comfortable in the latter. i can successfully do both. and my love/hate relationship will continue for a few more years. because the boys had a good time. and want to do it again. so off we will go. with a better, more efficient system. and lots of bug spray.

soundtracks.

i recently made a soundtrack.

a friend was embarking on a journey and the friend and i have been pretty tight for awhile and this friend is going to be sorely missed around these parts. its not that we still wont talk every day. its not like i cant call when i need to. there is skype and facetime and some other application on our macbooks that would allow us to speak “face to face” as often as we like. but thats kind of not the point of his journey, or this post. 

so i had made a soundtrack for him to pop in from time to time. its a mishmash of songs from various nights and events and conversations. every song has a specific memory attached. some make me laugh. some make me cry. all of them remind me how lucky i am for all of those memories. and i know we will make more over the years to come. 

but that isnt the point of this either.

so, the the boys and i decided to go on a bike ride since its nice enough again for us to do that without being miserable and as we are riding through our park i’m flooded with so many images and stories. 

there are moms pushing strollers. cyclists. bikers. skate boarders. a dad teaching his kid to ride his bike bike.  friends chatting.  burners meandering. women running. people golfing. two cute older people on a tandem. a couple pulling their dogs in a kid carrier behind their bikes. a woman teaching her son to roller blade. and me and my boys, zipping through the fray.  the variety of ethnicities are astounding if you aren’t used to it. its heartening. but what i couldnt quit thinking about as i peddled through, with the sun casting is low golden light on this scene in my life, is not only do i have my soundtrack. not only at that moment, in those moments, was my own soundtrack playing in my ear, but each of those people has their own soundtrack. 

they have songs they think about when they think of lovers. of friends. of their children. or their parents. songs that make them smile. or well up. or peddle faster. or shake their ass. usually on one bike ride i can run through all of those things in a 30 minutes period.

since i sent my friend off with the soundtrack of our time together, this soundtrack of my life concept has reared its head in some interesting ways. 

on monday i went to a concert. the first concert i’ve been to in a very long time actually. i used to go to a lot of shows. that was something chris and i did a lot of and enjoyed very much. i didnt make a conscience decision to not go to shows. i just simply havent really. so i agreed to go to this show with some girlfriends and on the heels of this special friend taking off, i had this girls trip to look forward to. and it was beautiful and sunny with big fat fluffy white clouds chasing us the whole way to Indy. The grass was green, the beer cold, the sky blue and the music washed over me like a blanket. and i’ll be damned if chris didnt just walk right up to me. 24,000 people and he walked up like nothing. so we watched part of the show like no time had passed, even tho it has, and went our separate ways. forever that band will be linked to that moment in time. its part of my soundtrack.

since that day, just a few days ago, random songs have popped up like they do, invoking thoughts and memories of other people who have crossed my path and left an imprint. 

soundtracks. 

if i was going to write out my life, from my earliest memory, to this moment, i think i could easily come up with a song for every year. if not several. some invoke such visceral responses it can make me dizzy with emotion. 

i cant imagine my life any other way. i cant imagine it stagnant. its colorful and varied. its not like anyone elses. it definitely not boring. its sometimes full of sharp edges. and lots of letting go. but with letting go you have to open your hands and when you do, new things float into that empty space. 

and all along the way, my soundtrack keeps expanding. and so does yours. and yours. and yours. if you’re doing it right. your soundtrack keeps expanding all along your road.