Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Circular Life

I've never read a Terry Pratchett book, so I'm not quite sure why I clicked on an article my friend shared on Facebook called, "23 Of The Most Beautiful Terry Pratchett Quotes to Remember Him By," but I did.  Maybe just because 23 is my favorite number.

Regardless, I proceeded to read ten wonderful / humorous / bluntly fantastic quotes...each one seeming more fantastic than the last...when I was smacked in the face by this fella:

I can read this and reread this and reread this, and I don't want to stop.  I moved to New England from Michigan almost six years ago, and for years I have known that there was something that I needed to hear -- though I could never quite pinpoint what the magic words were.  You see, ever since I moved I get questions from friends and family back home: "are you ever coming home?" "how much longer will you stay away?" "you know we want you to come back, right?"

And while my answers were "I think so," "I'm not sure," and "Yes," the truth is that whenever I thought about moving home, I felt that I couldn't because that would mean that somehow, in some way, I was admitting that I'd failed.  I felt like leaving to explore a new place with new people, only to eventually go back to live in an old place with familiar people would be a sign of not being independent, of not being able to "hack it" on my own, and of having been wrong to have ever moved away.  I think it is that last one that really made me feel cemented in Boston, because it was absolutely not a mistake for me to leave home -- it has been wonderful and exhilarating and lonely and sad and such an absolute adventure!  To think that returning home might cast my time here in an overall negative light (even if it only did so in other people's minds) was something I couldn't allow.

Somewhere along the line, this sense of duty to protect my original decision to move away by never going back stopped feeling like a choice I wanted to make, and became more like a cross I was being forced to bear.

Then this quote -- this amazing quote (I know, you thought I'd forgotten my original point) -- made it all clear.  The trajectory of my life is not a straight line.  I started at point A and am currently in point B and if I ever choose to go back to A, it would not be me traveling backwards along the path that brought me to B six years ago.  This time I would arrive at A from a new angle on a new path that I have been carving out for myself every single day.  My life -- all of our lives! -- are a continuous movement forward even if we pass through some of the same spots on the map multiple times.  It doesn't matter whether the scenery is always new because we are always new. Every single day.

So it turns out that these words written by Terry Pratchett were the ones that I have so desperately needed to hear.  The ones that have let me know not to worry about pieces of your past also becoming pieces of your future, because a return to a place you once stood does not mean a return to being the person who last stood there.  

Friday, January 23, 2015

It's More Than a Feeling

It is the eve of my 28th birthday.  I sit on my bed and write on my laptop while talking to some friends online.  On my 18th birthday, I sat in my old computer chair in the house I grew up in, writing in my high school blog while talking to some friends online.  Some things never change.

One friend lived across the street, and we wound up digging her mom's car out of 1.5 feet of snow in order to go get breakfast at Denny's at five in the morning.  Then upon leaving Denny's, I ran out into the street -- usually a busy intersection, but not so busy on a super snowy morning at 6am -- and made a snow angel.  I still remember how freeing it felt to be laying in an intersection, looking up at the stoplights as the snow continued to come down. I also still remember my friend Ruby screaming repetitively from the sidewalk, "Beth you're going to die! Beth you're going to die!"

Before we made the trip to Denny's, I had posted in my blog -- as I did most days back then.  What I had written didn't seem very insightful or thought-provoking at the time, but every year on my Birthday Eve, I go back and read it, and every year I think "I was smarter than I felt, and I didn't give myself enough credit back then."  I'll be honest that this year, being the 10th anniversary of that post, feels a little odd.  I don't feel like I should remember a night so vividly when it happened a decade ago.  I also want to retch a little when I realize that that was a decade ago haha.

Every year when I read the post, there is a different part that makes me stop and smile or stop and think.

This year I'm smiling because ten years ago I was listening to a song by Boston on my birthday, and ten years later, I'm living in Boston.

This year I'm thinking about how I still feel like I spend a lot of time waiting on other people; to make the first move, to change their minds, to start treating me the way I ought to be treated. (I'm also thinking that I may still be using semicolons incorrectly.)

But I think my biggest takeaway this year -- and every year -- is that even though I still feel like I don't have everything figured out....I know that I'm probably smarter than I feel, and in another ten years I'll probably look back and think "I didn't give myself enough credit back then."

So now that you've read the words of a newly twenty-eight year old me, here it is.  The words of a newly eighteen year old me:

03:48 am - happy birthday to me?
If time were a person I'd want to let them know that at the moment I pretty much dislike them a lot. Both for having me up at 3:48 when I really feel like sleeping and also for slipping away so guiltlessly. Does time know that when I feel like I'll go insane with boredom it moves about as quickly as a handicapped snail? Or that when I'm having the time of my life it obeys the speed limit about as well as my sister does--which isn't very well at all?

I've spent a good portion of my life so far waiting; on people, until I'm older, to understand more of life's idiosyncrasies, or to be able to do more. The realization that every second, minute, hour, year, counts comes at the randomest moments. Like while I'm watching the ticking green lights on the microwave. Sometimes I forget that every second counts, and that once time is gone you dont ever get it back. And when I do realize it, I feel like I should be out doing something immensely important and life-changing, though I'm never sure what. 

I think back to long days spent out in the sun with Ruby. Splashing around in that blue kiddie pool, and then dashing over to our bikes so that we could ride back and forth down the street. I always had to be the fastest. There's the countless hours Aubrey and I spent in her backyard--the one that now just looks like any other backyard, but could once be transformed by our imaginations into anything we wanted it to be. I'm not sure when that stopped being possible. Maybe it still is, but it just seems unacceptable. People would look at you the same way the evil McDonalds people do when me, Q, Aubs, and Trace run around in their toys knowing full well that even Q is over the height-limit.

In regards to being able to be with specific people time really sucks. You never stop and think about 'what if this person wasn't here tomorrow'. Whether it's due to death, or physical/figurative distance. I know that me and Ashleigh Dohm had every intention of really being best friends forever. Sometimes I forget she ever existed. About how she taught me how to tie my shoes, and how to dive. It's funny because after she moved I still remembered how she sounded, and slowly it's changed into just being able to recall memories. Someday it will change into just remembering a time when I remembered. 

I know I personally spend a lot of time wondering why certain people come in/go out of my life. There's a whole load of stuff that--if they're leaving soon--I'd want them to know, but if they're not then I dont really want to verbalize quite yet. And even though I know that's stupid (because nobody knows when someone will be ripped from your life), knowing it's stupid--for some reason--isn't a good enough reason for me to spill my feelings.

You'd think that after 18 years I'd have a little more common sense. I still feel pretty immature when it comes to some things like that. An "adult" would understand that time should be cherished and spent wisely...and here I am...60 minutes after starting this entry, writing in a journal, at almost five o'clock in the morning, listening to Boston...
Current Mood: dorkydorky
Current Music: More Than a Feeling - Boston

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Photo Story from an Epic Roadtrip Part Deux

Breakfast at The Mill in San Francisco.

I had to see the Painted Ladies -- made famous by the intro to Full House.

First time seeing the Pacific Ocean (technically San Fran Bay).

We did not pass a gate to get this view.  I repeat, we did not pass a gate to get this view.

City by the Bay.


Yellowed hills of Northern California.

A forest fire in the distance.

The first of the many fumaroles on our trip!  

The boiling pools of Bumpass Hell. Named for Mr. Bumpass, a miner passed through the area, broke through the brittle earth, fell into a boiling mud pot, and severely burned his leg.
It eventually required amputation.
  Seriously, that's how this place was named.
Needless to say, we stayed on the designated path.

Awesome colors around the geothermal site!

"It's too big for my mouf."

Chilly bison in the early morning frost and fog.

Bison look like ants from far away.

Watching and listening to the bison on our early morning wildlife adventure (we mostly saw bison).

No zoom required to see these fellas.  Parking lot grass is clearly the best grass.

Perfect sky as we arrived in the Tetons.

No words needed.

Halt. Who goes there??

"Everything the light touches is our kingdom."  A Lion King quote here is appropriate, as we were just about to perform the entire soundtrack from memory. (Note that the other tourists were thrilled to be near us. Clearly.)

Not all days can end with a view like this.

Tetons in the morning light make everything seem alright.

We had failed to see any moose on our trip (which made me incredibly sad), but I wanted a photo with the moose statue anyway.

And then fifteen minutes later WE SAW MOOSE! Two of dem!  The scenario went like this:
Liz: Beth it's the last potentially good moose area. Want to keep an eye out?
Beth: What's the poin--MOOSE! STOP THE CAR MOOSE!!!!

Moose. Hot air balloon. Tetons.  Need I say more?

An appropriate archway for Jackson Hole, WY.

Autumn was already setting trees on fire in Wyoming as we made our way down to Salt Lake City on our final leg of the trip.

The Great Salt Lake.  It was quite beautiful, but also quite smelly and bugs were rampant. 

Best friend road trips are so fun!

But oh so sad when they are done.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Photo Story from an Epic Roadtrip

Enormous pinecones at Lassen in California

This doe and her fawn were not afraid of us, though they wondered why we were awake so early.

Lake Manzanita in Lassen Volcanic National Park

View of Mount Shasta in Northern Cali as we drove to Crater Lake.

Lunch in Northern Cali.  Saddest part was that the donut had no filling.  Who does that?!

Oregon wins for having the most awesome welcome sign!

Our Chariot against the beautiful Oregon sky and foliage.

Our first out-of-the-car view of Crater Lake inspired our faces.

Bluest of blues.

Liz leaps fearlessly off of high rocks into cold water!

Bethany stands nervously on low rocks talking herself into cold water.

Eventually she makes a splash.

Lava cones at Crater Lake!

Crater Lake morning hike to see the pirate ship rocks.

Those pines, tho.

Crater Lake made a compelling case for why it, and not Lake Michigan, should be the leading lake in my life.

Wizard Island.  No Muggles are allowed there (jk, they totally are)

Eastern Oregon is incredibly, horrendously, boringly flat.

One of our cat friends upon arriving at Mary & Bill's in Idaho!  He thought he was a dog.

Mary made us marshmellow topped brownies for our road trip!  She also made caramel topped brownies with black lava salt
 (not pictured because Liz was probably already gorging herself on them).

Brisket and delicious cole slaw in Boise.

Idaho is (apparently) all about huckleberries, so I needed huckleberry/ricotta stuffed french toast. Duh.

I took about a zillion photos of the Snake River as I internally geeked out over living out scenes from Oregon Trail.
Note that Liz and I did not trade seven pairs of clothing to have a Native American guide float us across the river.
We caulked our wagon ourselves and took our chances!  (This is when we lost Jane to dysentery)

Perrine Memorial Bridge is known as one of the few man-made BASE jumping sites in the US where jumping is allowed year-round without a permit.  We watched many jumpers.

Climbing to the top of a black gravel hill at Craters of the Moon in Idaho.

Liz evaluates the area.

This tree reminded me of the Lion King.

Site of a past lava flow. So. Fricken. Cool.

Craters of the Moon was an area where testing was done by astronauts prior to attempting an actual Moon landing.

This photo in black and white looks exactly like the Moon's surface.

Winding road reminds me of Ansel Adams photographs.

First bison sighting in Yellowstone National Park.

The most faithful.

Steam blending into the clouds.

View of Grand Prismatic Spring from above.

Hayden Valley before dusk.  Hoping to see some wildlife.

Photographer Liz.

Bison dotting the horizon at sunset in Yellowstone.

Bison along the river near the Hayden Valley.