Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Beauty

Beauty is everywhere on this Thanksgiving Day. 

Owen, the girls, and I take a morning run. We want to go far so we can validate eating an extra slice of pie. 
We tackle hills, and we talk sometimes. But mostly we just run and breathe.  Beauty is in the wind that bites my cheeks. It is in the sound of our feet crunching on the crusted snow - miniature icebergs on the black asphalt. 
It is in the fields of cut corn filled with geese who scavenge for frozen husks. Beauty is in the shades of brown (who knew brown could be beautiful?) - the brown tree limbs whose bareness reveals crisscrossed patterns, the mottled brown of a darting squirrel, and the deep brown of the dirt roads.

I find beauty in my family. 
 The belly-laugh of Charlotte echoes through the house. Truman's rendition of "Maple Leaf Rag" on the piano entertains us at least five times in a row. There is even a beauty in the frenzy of cooking one hour before departure: Elise cuts the dates, Owen de-pits the olives, Amelia and Charlotte help make the salad, I saute the cauliflower, and Madi suggests a variation on our cauliflower dish (and I find such beauty knowing she will be a wonderful cook!).

I find beauty in traditions. Pies - I feel my grandma, mom, and sister beside me as I roll out the dough.
 Elise and I enjoy our newly-acquired tradition of green smoothies at 11AM, and we think of Katie.
I see beauty in friendship. The Davis house is warm and inviting. There is beauty in the spread of food- the sheer volume and colorfulness of it. There is beauty in the smell of fresh rolls. And there is  beauty in the hugs. There is beauty in the welcome I feel - we have, afterall, been gone for three years, and yet these friends still include us. There is beauty in the laughter as board games and card games ensue. And of course, there is beauty in the extra slice of pie!

There is another beauty which is harder to explain. It is the beauty of memory. I think of the past three years, of friends in Jakarta who braved floods and traffic to come to our home. I think of the swaying palm trees, the autumn dip in the pool, and of Yuli working beside me in the kitchen. I think of the Bill's brazilian turkey, of KA's pie buffet, of Lindy's eggnog, of Shana's stories (and spinach dip!), and of Melissa's challah bread. We were thrown together in the "Jakarta crazy," and yet I found such support and joy in these beautiful people. And although I feel a sense of sadness for no longer being with them - the memory is beautiful.

I am grateful for Thanksgiving beauty all around me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Running in the Dark

To Elise:

Our breath comes as ghostly white puffs barely visible in the dark morning.

We wear fleece gloves, hats, arm warmers under our jackets, and still we are cold. We are strangers to this cold that bites and stings and makes our eyes water. 

The headlamp light bounces before us - a meager aid in finding safe footings. 

Above us the sky is alight with stars. Stars so bright and so numerous. Stars, hidden behind city lights and car exhaust during my three years of running in Jakarta, are now clear. Orion with his three-starred belt remains fixed and steady. So very bright.

Some mornings we barely talk. Just our ragged breathing - a runner's conversation. 
Some mornings we talk. You tell me about school. I tell you about teaching. We joke about being "hardcore runners" when really we confess we're just plain crazy. 
And when we're brave, we reminisce about Jakarta and the things we miss. But those are rare and filled with emotion. Sometimes it's safer to stick to school and teaching - the here and now. 

Of all my coping strategies with this lifestyle change, with returning home where everything is the same but oh so different, these runs with you are most dear. 

Our runs make me feel less lost. My footing becomes more sure. 

Somehow in the dark of morning with the stars above us, it is easier to believe that everything is okay. Even more than okay, everything is beautiful, 
and wonderful, 
and good.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

October Loves

In the middle of all the hard, there has been much good. In fact, as I review the month of October, the good shines brighter than any of my grumbling thunderstorms. Isn't the passage of time wonderful like that? What seems so hard at the moment, can soften after some reflection. 

So here are some of my October loves worth celebrating and remembering:

Owen and I celebrated 20 years of marriage! Wow, that is a long time. I have now been married for half of my lifetime. 

We had taken our trip to Bali as our big celebration before leaving Indonesia, but Owen still found a way to make our actual anniversary day special. White roses have always been my favorite.

And it may have taken 20 years of marriage...but Owen knows exactly how to encourage me. He strategically placed love notes around the house, like this one:
And I found this note in my car as I left to go teach:
We enjoyed a night in Washington DC, and in an act of TRUE LOVE, Owen bought tickets for us to see "Evita" at the Kennedy Center. Owen is not a huge fan of musical theater - in fact, he says he likes it just fine until the actors break into song and dance. Hence, the tickets were truly a selfless gift of love. 

Another thing worth celebrating is the autumn season. I get to walk out on my front porch every day to this sight:
Gold leaves glow like sunshine. Orange leaves, almost florescent in hue, eclipse even the bright pumpkins. While running along the trail, my feet create a rhythm of crunch and swish on the leaves - a lovely autumn melody.

While driving along a tree lined street, the leaves tumble through the air in impossible elegance. Then with a sudden gust of wind, a plume of leaves takes to the air like a startled flock of birds.  

The sights and sounds of autumn have healed my transient soul this past month. And for that, I love October.

And then there is the pure joy of Halloween. Oh what a fun holiday. I love everything about it: the cold weather, the costumes, the family excitement, the walk through the neighborhood, and of course the chocolate! We were a Gatsby gang this year (thanks to some pre-planning and Ria, our favorite Jakarta seamstress!)

I loved walking down Main Street as the night grew dark, climbing the wooden steps of front porches together, admiring jack-o-lanterns, and holding Charlotte's hand. I loved watching Elise and Charlotte run from house to house in their last "frantic" fifteen minutes of trick-or-treating. I loved laughing with Amelia and Truman as we scooped his candy off the road when his bag broke. And I LOVE LOVE LOVED spending the final hours of Halloween with friends, delicious food (oh the warm artichoke dip!), and hearing the squeals of frightful delight as the children played Ghost in the Graveyard outside.

Yes, there was plenty to love in the month of October.