Stuff From The Beach

Caution: This Post Contains Sentimental Drivel

It’s my last full day at Sunset Beach, and as well as still feeling a little meh from Saturday evening’s food poisoning extravaganza, I find myself also feeling melancholy. This always happens when I get ready to leave.

Earlier today, I went over to Rose Park Roasters for what may be my second-to-last coffee there (not that I’m counting, because that number would make me even more sad). The route takes me up PCH into Long Beach, to 7th Street, then left on Redondo, right on 4th. I was already feeling a little sentimental before I left, but as I drove I became almost maudlin.

Very few things elicit deep emotions from me – after years and years of practice, and a few good role models, I’m a true expert at stuffing feelings. Fear? Stuff it. Anger? Cram that way down there. Love? Grief? That all goes in there, too. Happiness? Some days I’m not sure what that is, but maybe that’s somewhere in there too. So it takes something close to a tsunami or other internal or external natural disaster for me to notice what I’m feeling. But when I drove down Pacific Coast Highway today, yeah, I almost started crying.

There is something about the stretch of PCH from Sunset Beach, through Seal Beach, towards Long Beach, that perfectly sums up my relationship with Southern California. There is a lot of history along that drive. My Dad grew up in Sunset Beach, I stay in his mother’s house when I am here. And I spent lots of time with my Grandma here when I was little. My parents lived in the apartment above the garage for a while, and when they were expecting me, they rented a house in Seal Beach. So that is the first “home” I went home to. I was born in Long Beach.

I always feel sentimental when I drive that stretch of road, but today there was a whole new layer of feeling to it. It was as if I finally figured out what about it makes me so teary-eyed. It’s probably obvious to everyone else, I am usually the last one to the Feelings Party after all.

It’s as if every time I drive that stretch of road, I search for connections along the route. I try to reach back to a time that was supposed to be happy and fun and carefree. Maybe I wish that I could have a do-over, or maybe I am just stuck in the past. I wish I could say that was a happy  time, and while I know there were definitely happy moments, overall it doesn’t feel happy to me.

Other than what kind of cookies are in the kitchen, and maybe having to do a little math homework, you’re not supposed to worry about stuff as a kid. And maybe that’s all I did worry about back then, but I have a feeling that there were heavier things on my mind, things that weren’t so kid-like, things that would be better forgotten. I’m not saying anything BAD happened to me – at least I don’t think so – I think it was more a case of having to grow up and start adulting a little before I should have. To be honest, I have forgotten most of it. Or rather, stuffed it all.

When I drive down this stretch of road, I associate this place with home. I connect with the place, my physical body connecting with the memories and feelings still tied to this stretch of the California coast. Maybe one day, I can let go of it all. Which is different from pushing it down, down, and still further down.

It is hard to even write this, it’s like, feelings and stuff, you know? Who cares about that? Repressing it all has worked great so far, right? So for now, I’ll push it away again, and think about what I could have for dinner that won’t hurt my stomach. Because after pushing feelings down for so long, they’ve all ended up there, and most days, they don’t like food. Maybe one day, I can let go of it all.

Today’s Rose Park Roasters cappuccino. Fraught with emotions but still delicious.
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Reunion.

Looking at stars from the hillside…

 

Yesterday, I reconnected with an old acquaintance. His name is Darren. I had actually found him on Facebook in December of 2014 and had sent him a message, but since we weren’t technically “friends,” Facebook filtered the message and he only just now saw it.
2014 or 2016, it doesn’t make much difference since we haven’t actually seen each other since 1990.

In 1990, I went to a family reunion weekend in Napa, California. 3 days spent with relatives, enjoying very decadent activities – at least they were to me, anyway. Things like casino night, a Moroccan feast, some hiking, and a lot of wine drinking occured. Not part of my everyday routine.

One evening, an astronomer was hired to give us a tour of the night sky. A camp site was chosen up the mountainside, and tents, tables, blankets, food, and everything else we could have wanted was driven up ahead of time to the campsite, along with the astronomer and his very large telescope. We had a delicious meal, and were regaled with the astronomer’s knowledge of that vast darkness above our heads. I guess it still counted as “camping” but I had never experienced that amount of luxury on a mountainside before, and I’m not likely to ever again.

That weekend was when I first met Darren; he was working for my uncle at the time, and over the weekend he helped out with things around the house and property, including setting up the aforementioned Fancy Camping Trip. I took an immediate liking to Darren; he was friendly, intelligent, and genuine. Sometimes I found my family to be intimidating. This has everything to do with me, and nothing to do with them… their accomplishments and successes, when compared to mine, seemed fantastical. It was easy to take a break and talk and spend time with Darren. And it probably didn’t hurt that he was also very handsome. Let’s face it, that never hurts.

After that weekend, I think we wrote letters back and forth a few times (pre-internet, can you BELIEVE it??), but then lost touch with each other, as people sometimes do. I still thought of him from time to time over the years, and a few years ago it occurred to me to look for him on Facebook. I thought maybe I had found him – it only took a year and a half for him to confirm that I had!
We messaged a bit yesterday, and caught up a little bit on each other’s lives. I’m sure we both have a lot more story to tell, who knows if it will ever get told. But reconnecting with him made me think back to that weekend in 1990, and how fun it was… but it also made me think back to the person I was in 1990. Because that woman is very different from the woman who is writing this now.

Imagine being 21 and going up a mountainside one night, where you are treated to a fantastic meal with fascinating people, and are given an earth-based tour of the heavens. Do you remember looking up at the stars when you were young? Not 10 years old young, but early 20’s young. Or if you are young now, what do you think about when you look up there?

Everything up there in the sky represented possibility. Think of where you will go on this amazing life journey! Up hills to fancy camping trips! To beautiful places with fascinating people! You imagine going everywhere and anywhere you want to. The possibilities are endless.

These days, when I look up into the night sky above my house, and the city lights are dim enough to allow me to see the stars, planets, and the occasional shooting star, I’m more likely to think about things like, where will I go after I die? Will I head out that way somewhere when I leave this earth?

I’m not a morbid person, by any means. It’s just fact that I am now closer to the end than the beginning, and my thoughts turn to the more fleeting aspects of “life” and what it means to inhabit, and at some point leave this physical body. It’s still about possibility – just a different set of possibilities.

The young woman who met that nice young man that weekend back in 1990 is still in here somewhere. She still dreams of accomplishing great things and she still dreams of traveling. The parameters have just changed.

I wonder if Darren thinks about these things, too.

andreaanddarren

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Anniversary Thoughts

anniversary thoughts

 

First Thing In The Morning…

My birthday was also our 4th anniversary of being together.
When we first started dating, we bought a jar of local honey to use for our Sunday breakfasts- it crystallized right away. Since then we’ve been keeping the jar going – adding new raw honey before the old is used up, keeping it crystallized. I like to think there’s a tiny bit of the original honey in there somewhere.
There’s a metaphor here for our relationship – but I’m too sleepy to overtly point it out.

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Birthday Thoughts

Yesterday was my birthday.

Every so often, I get the words just right, and I’m able to write them down and actually express my thoughts and my feelings. I think I accomplished this yesterday when I wrote this.

Last night, I was awake for a while, for some reason… I remembered it was my birthday, so I started thinking about getting older, and where I am in my life right now. I asked my mom for guidance – asked her what she thought I should do. And the answer came back quite clearly.
She told me to rise up over adversity. She told me to be the bird that I know I truly am – fly up and over and away. Transcend humanness, radiate spirit.
She has been with me all day, and the birds have been singing nonstop.
Thanks, mom.

mom

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Manipulation and Chronic Illness

Manipulation and chronic illness – how a trip to the osteopath screwed up my personal identity

I just got back from seeing a natural healer who practices cranialsacral and fascial manipulation, and is educated in osteopathic principles. And boy are my arms tired!
But seriously, my arms ARE kinda tired. As are my neck, hips, and everything in between…
I don’t believe there are coincidences, I believe everything happens for a reason. So when I was asked to work on a web site copy job for a local ad agency, I wasn’t really surprised that it happened to be for a natural healer, with whom I share some mutual acquaintances. And I wasn’t surprised by how naturally the writing flowed while I was working on the web site copy. Because it all just seemed like it was supposed to happen that way. It all made perfect sense. The next step was, of course, to go see her personally. How could I not? It’s like it was put right in front of me.

This energetic, passionate lady works out of her home, and of course it was a nice home. In the nice part of town. One of her little dogs greeted me and immediately enlisted me in some belly scratching.
Once I got in to see her, we went over my medical history, as well as talking about things that have happened in my life that could have an impact on my health. Like medical events, trauma, or other emotional experiences. Then she had me stand in front of her so she could look at how I stand. The first thing she told me was that my liver was over-taxed. Just based on how I was standing (leaning towards the left, away from the liver).
Then I lay down on her table and she proceeded to get to work. She said my liver and kidneys are congested and that the fascia surrounding my entire belly cavity was so tense and tight that it was pulling all my organs towards the back of my body. Where everything was getting smooshed.

We talked about trauma – she believes I’ve had PTSD for a very long time, and the death of my mom in 2012 was just one big event that basically pushed my body over the edge, so to speak.
I don’t really know what trauma I experienced so long ago, but she isn’t the first person to suggest this and well, it wouldn’t surprise me. When you are very young, it’s possible that something we view as not very important as an adult, can be really, really impactful and meaningful. Maybe the adult me would be like, oh, that’s no big deal! But 3 year old me might have had a different experience. But – I can’t remember anything specific. My mom isn’t here for me to ask – and something tells me that even if she were, she wouldn’t tell me what it was. She just didn’t talk much about the past.

So the healer commented multiple times about how tense my whole body is. She worked to release the tension and to relax my body. I started to feel more relaxed but I had a really weird thought – if I let go of all this tension, I won’t really be ME anymore. Parts of me might get lost! Because I feel like I literally and figuratively hold myself together with all this tension. Without it, I might fall apart.
I told this to the healer. She thought it was interesting. And wouldn’t it be neat to explore that, she said, and to maybe let the “real me” out from under all the tension. Maybe that’s something I could explore, she suggested. Maybe.
I don’t know. That’s certainly a more positive way of looking at the experience, rather than OH MY GOD I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DEFINE MYSELF WITHOUT MY ANXIETY AND TENSION. But if I let go of it all, what will be left in its place? A bowl of lime jello? A jellyfish? A cookie-loving amoeba?

What if those of us who suffer from chronic conditions use those conditions as ways to define ourselves. What if it becomes so much a part of who we are, that we don’t know how to define ourselves without it. What if I’m not the only one who does this.
What if there are hundreds, or thousands, or millions of people that hang onto these conditions because they – their bodies and their minds – don’t know any other way of being.
These are rhetorical questions, because I know this happens all the time. And not just with chronic health conditions – we hold onto negative thoughts, past trauma, criticism, self-doubt… you name it. We hold onto things because it’s all we know. It’s too bad, isn’t it.

I wonder if we can all manage to let go. Wouldn’t THAT be interesting.

chronic illness
this is what happens to your insides when you are TENSE
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