Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What Makes a House a Home?

Brown and orange Home Depot boxes are strewn about our living room, and we keep misplacing the Sharpie and packaging tape: our trusty weapons in this battle to fit our lives into cardboard.  

Where in the world will I find the right paint color to cover these holes in my avocado walls (and ceilings)?  

What took months to decide where to hang, find nails, and adorn the walls, took minutes to remove. What was my home just moments ago, quickly returned to a house. It proved how fast walls lose their meaning without art and photos. 

I feel like I did this not long ago, when my four suitcases joined me on this side of the country. Those four suitcases are nothing compared to the things we've accumulated in our year and almost three months of marriage.

Everything feels like it should be significant, or someday will be when I recall to my grandchildren. "This is the couch we bought with wedding money, and your grandfather built me that table when we were engaged," I'll tell them. 

But it's not just the furniture shouting to be remembered, it's the salt shakers and wedding leftovers and long-distance letters. I know they're just things. If we lose it all in a tragic fire and still have each other, all will be well.

He reminds me we don't have to sell it and pare down to four suitcases like last time. These are the dishes our kids will remember from their childhoods. These are the things of our marriage that make up our life together, even if they go to live in boxes for the time being. It will be like Christmas morning when we unpack them into the next place we call home.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

24 Hours in Santa Monica

My dear friend Laurin has been teaching English in Thailand for over a year, and I hadn't seen her since she took me to the Branson airport last April so I could fly to Oregon and marry my love. 

She was flying back to the States for the first time in two birthdays, and we had the crazy idea to meet up during one of her long layovers. While I would love to visit her in Thailand, it would be much easier (and cheaper) to fly anywhere on the West Coast instead.

This past week was our reunion! We spent every hour together from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday and it was THE BEST! We bonded over our eerily similar experiences dealing with isolation and difficulty finding community living in new places.

I found out that there is a bus for $1 from LAX to Santa Monica, so we decided to spend the layover there rather than hang out at the airport. This choice was magnificent. The views, the pier, the shopping, the food, and the culture. My cup runneth over.

One of my favorite moments was walking into Chipotle, where I watched Laurin's eyes light up. I think she might have even jumped up and down. It was hilarious and there was so much joy in such a small, normal experience (though not-so-normal if you've been out of the country for over a year).

We got pampered at the drybar, which was a brilliant idea considering we were recently in airplanes (me for two hours; her for about twelve, but who is counting?). 

After she hopped back on the Big Blue Bus, I spent the night at a hostel. The next morning I rented a bike and rode the beach bike path down to Venice Beach, which I have dubbed the Eugene of Los Angeles. Both can be described in words: drum circles.

Walking toward my bus stop to ride back to LAX, I almost made it out of Santa Monica without buying anything at all the fancy stores. That is, until I happened upon the storefront of my favorite designer and personal weakness: Kate Spade. There I found some beautiful earrings on clearance. Happy almost birthday to me!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tips for Flying a Kite on the Oregon Coast

things to do on the oregon coast

1. Get a good quality kite. The winds on the coast don't mess around! Go find a local kite shop, or check out these on Amazon. I don't recommend the ones from the Dollar Tree. Those will last you approximately 30 seconds.

things to do on the oregon coast

2. Make sure you know which direction the wind is coming from, and keep the wind at your back. This makes a huge difference, trust me.


3. Bring a buddy. Kite flying is serious business. When the kite starts doing the washing machine and thrashing about, you need to hang onto the string parts while your buddy tries to talk down the kite.

things to do on the oregon coast

4. Stay away from sunbathers. Why they are sunbathing on the OREGON coast, no one knows. But try not to hit them with your kite. While you are watching out for immobile objects, watch out for lighthouses. 

things to do on the oregon coast

5. This tip only applies if you are using a stunt kite with two strings. Make sure the strings are the same length, or the kite will start doing the washing machine again. If you have high winds (like you always will on the Oregon Coast), start with the strings as long as you want. It's easier than letting out the strings at exactly the same length.

things to do on the oregon coast

What are some of your favorite summer activities where you live?