Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sweet Summer Peaches

"The heart, like the mind, has a memory.
And in it are kept the most precious keepsakes."
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

My most heartfelt and transparent writings are about my dad. Sometimes I wonder if it’s too much. I wonder if people get tired of reading it. I ask myself if I should post it at all.

I even ask myself if the fact that the pain still continues to overwhelm me at times means I haven’t truly healed…

Regardless of what is right and what is wrong, there are still certain things I have a really hard time doing, simply because he is no longer here….

We loved baseball. Like, yell at the TV love baseball. If “we were on the field we would get kicked out” love baseball. Regardless of how much I love it, going to a game still poses its emotional challenges. And when it comes to watching it on TV? Can’t do it… 

In the summer, we used to do it every single day.

We loved music. Because of him, I did, and still do, dig the Beach Boys. Comforting to still listen? Yes. Difficult? You have no idea….

Crushed Melon Jones Soda is the shiznit. Yet, I haven’t had one in years…. My chest hurts when I think about drinking one. (probably because of the sugar, but….whatever, lol)

Cooking is probably the one thing I can do that makes me feel close to him without feeling overwhelmingly painful.

Cooking and shopping with him was this inspiring adventure where you didn’t just learn to cook something new. You learned how to live. You learned how to create. How to produce an experience that brought joy, laughter and fulfillment to not just you, but also those around you. To be able to carry that with me is an honor. And I thank him for bequeathing that to me…

Aside from a love of cooking, a deep, satisfying love of fresh produce was also something we shared. As a result, buying fresh produce in the summer makes me feel happy and lonely all at the same time.

Dad LOVED and lived for fresh fruit. I don’t ever remember a time where we didn’t have some kind of fresh produce in the house. Even in the winter. He loved bananas, apples and blueberries. Melons, nectarines and plums when they were in season. As well as the biggest watermelons you have ever seen. But the pinnacle of all fresh fruits that would make their appearance on a hot summer day, was the sweet, succulent, and juicy peach.

Those peaches…. Would blow your mind. 

Eating them was not just something you did. You had to experience them.

I remember standing in the kitchen with my dad, watching him cut into the flesh of that ripe, tender peach, talking about how amazing it was going to be, and how it was going to be the best thing I have ever had in my entire life.

He would split it between us, and as the juices ran down my chin, I would watch my dad experience something magical. The sweet, sticky juices would run down his hands and into his beard.  He would raise his eyes to the ceiling, making a guttural sound of contentment, and dancing in delight as only he could. That’s how good these things were.

Standing in front of the peaches today, I almost didn’t buy one. I didn’t have him by my side, showing me how to pick out the perfect peach. I had to do it myself. And it was lonely. And it hurt.

But, he would want me to enjoy something so mind-blowingly fabulous. He would tell me that I “had” to buy it. Because it’s what summer is all about.

Dad had this ability to make everything an adventure. Everything was an experience and an opportunity to learn.

As I have my own adventures and create my own experiences, I ache to share them with him.

I want to share my new recipe ideas, and play music with him. I want to listen to talk radio and listen to him argue with someone who cannot hear him.

I want to sit and discuss life and ask for his advice… because sometimes I desperately need it…

Yet today, all I want to do is sit down next to him on my patio, split my peach down the middle, and share it with him. 

Because today? I don’t want to each my peaches by myself…I want to share this experience with him.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Love Project 2014: Divine Appointments

I was offered a ride to the airport.

But in true Elizabeth fashion, I declined.

I like the freedom that public transit allows. The quiet moments to think, mixed with a myriad of opportunities to meet someone new. Learn something. See something you've never seen before. 

Public transportation has taught me to better manage my time. 

I tend to cram too much in too short a time frame.

Today, my "A" game was on.

Ready to go. Check list completed. On the train. Let's do this. 

I didn't sit in my normal spot. Because every transit rider had their spot. Kind of like in church. With pews. 

She wasn't from around here. Alaska.

We connected over food. She spilled her Sprite. 

Then music. I told her I'm singing in a wedding this weekend, when she asked where I was heading. 

Then she asked me to sing.

I don't know why I still get nervous and shy, but, I do. I chuckled and declined.

She wanted to hear the song I'm singing for a wedding this weekend. I sorta sung the first line.... 

Then she practically begged me to sing "Amazing Grace." Because she needed encouragement. How can you refuse that? I closed my eyes and sang. 

I felt myself going back to last year when I sang it to my grandfather 24 hours before he passed away. 

It was moving and powerful to share the language of music with a perfect stranger. To share Jesus with a fellow sister in Christ and feel that connection even though we'd never met. 

We spoke of Jesus. Of faith and prayer. She prophesied my getting married soon. I chuckled. 

We spoke of the Mission and how she had just walked past the Men's Shelter. 

She is a photographer and showed me her work. Then she gave me one of her shots. It is lovely. I know exactly where I am going to put it. 

When I first started working at the Mission, we had lunch with the Prez; and he asked us to share something that we collect. He said that whether we realize it or not, we all have something we collect. And he was right. 

However, at the time, I didn't really have an answer. I mean, I am always downloading music and always buying books and funky coffee mugs at the thrift store. But are those the things that most excite me? The things that I will go out of my way to find? No. Not really, not truly. 

Today when I met Karen Elisabeth, I knew it was a divine appointment from Jesus. 

I also realized in that moment, what drives me. What I will go out of my way to find. What I long to gather to myself and keep forever. 

I am a collector of stories. I want to know them. Keep them. Hear them. Tell them. Experience them. Create them. Find them.

Stories? They compel me, captivate and inspire me. Move me to tears and laughter, all in the same breath. 

And this was just one....