It just takes one step to get out the door...

Ideally, my comfort zone would be clearly outlined with white chalk marks, dashed and orderly, so that I would immediately recognize when I was in the zone, or out of the zone.

A zone is "an area or stretch of land having a particular characteristic, purpose or use" according to the dictionary.  As each year goes by my comfort zone attributes shift, and the white chalk line gets blurred and erased. Some changes are subtle, as if a minor tremor disrupted the topsoil; some are much more pronounced, like a greedy developer has torn down my old familiar house and put up edgy condos.

I never planned to go skydiving...

A less than conventional life...

I had a beautiful pink prom dress, but an awkward and dissatisfying prom.  I didn't send out multiple college applications, waiting excitedly for the thick envelopes in the mail.  I won a scholarship but dropped out of university after one term.  I never lived in residence, attending dorm parties and eating in the cafeteria; I chose instead to live in a heritage walk-up garret in East Vancouver.  

I traveled to romantic Paris - alone. 
I learned to sail - with strangers. 

I never learned how to cook properly.  
I never had a dog or a white picket fence.

I dated men who were much older than me, then much younger....

Community spirit lives here...

A few blocks from my house, nestled in a public garden on the street corner, there is a charming example of the community nature of my neighbourhood.  There is a curio cabinet, lovingly built and brightly painted, that holds books.  It is give and take arrangement, for adults as well as children.  For those who love to read, finding a new book, free no less, is akin to finding treasure.  If there is a book on the shelf that seems perfect for you it is pure serendipity; you rush home with your bounty in your arms to settle down on the couch and dig in.

Besides fiction, the bookshare has offered up some interesting selections...

She stood alone, staring...

She stood alone, staring across the expanse of city lights, past freighters anchored in the harbour, beyond the twinkling port lights out to the dark ocean.  The wind swept her hair across her face. Sensing a movement behind her, she turned to see.... what's that? you need dinner right now?  right now??  alright, hang on...

(So rare, to steal a few precious moments to write when the urge strikes, to let the mind wander... blissful yet fleeting snippets of time in and amongst the demands of the day.)

She turned to see a stranger, walking towards her on the observation deck...

He was tall, elegantly dressed, with an expensive-looking camera slung around his neck.  He approached her at a quick pace; she looked at him nervously then turned back to the rail, to the view.  He stopped a few feet away from her, and raised his camera to his eye. 

(Oh right, I'm supposed to be cooking.  I have no idea where this story begins or ends at this point... an interrupted moment within an unwritten chapter.  I'll ask the kids what they think happens next and come back to it later after dessert.)

(According to my ten-year-old daughter, he took a picture of the view, then said, "Are you alone? Would you like company?"  My son decided he took a picture of the woman :)

Drive, she said...

There is something awesome about a road trip.  Solo, with kids, with friends, with someone special, even with the cat (but that's another story).

Try saying those two little words out loud, right now.   Road. Trip.
Made you smile, didn't it.
Made your eyes widen.

There's a feeling of pure bliss that sneaks up on me and fills me with awe - the scenery brightens, the sky is endless, the music becomes meaningful - this only happens when I'm behind the wheel.  I don't know why I only get it when driving.  I am giddy.  I am moving forward and everything is perfect and peaceful.

Road trip. 

An unscripted, spontaneous, magical adventure, no matter how old you are or feel.  A night, a weekend, a month away - it doesn't matter.  Plan one today, and just go.

You can go home again...

For those who never left their childhood home, their memories are part of their daily existence, blended into the current fabric of their lives, the very fabric that gets thrown in the wash and then comes out clean on a regular basis (although with faint stains...)

For those who left home, memories can exist in boxes of letters, old photos and other infrequent glimpses, white-washed with a nostalgic patina and reserved for rainy, moody days or visits with very young relatives.

New nostalgia...

A friend my age posted a link to an article about how growing up in the '70's was better than now - more real, more tangible, less electronically connected.

Link to article: 20 signs childhood as we know it is gone for good

I responded:

"Today is different, not necessarily worse. We eat cookie dough at least once a week, we go to Saturday afternoon movies and eat popcorn smothered in butter, we play board games, the kids ride their bikes until dark or jump on the trampoline (hey, I never had a trampoline!)  It's me that's changed, I'm the one getting busted by my kids for texting at the playground instead of playing lava ground on the rocks."

I went for a long walk around my neighbourhood last night, looking at the old houses with new cars parked in front, the televisions glowing in the windows, the tiny little urban yards.  As I was nearing home, I passed a house and heard children and adults laughing, doors open between the warm evening air and the private indoor space... and the unmistakable sound of another trampoline, tucked behind the tidy front hedge but right there in the little front yard of the house.

Life, seen through our kids' eyes, contains no nostalgia.  Now is all that exists.  To blend all that we had with all that we now have without putting a higher value on either leaves me in pretty good standing with the kids (and the big "kids" - everybody loves a trampoline).  

The library of hope and dreams...

I should have caught my unicorn when I was 16
to catch a unicorn you have to
and believe
and love
all with an astonishing measure of innocence
They're crafty beasts, unicorns
with their thin legs
and thick manes
and some people say
their horns are gold. 
I've lost my chance to catch my unicorn
I'm too old
too caught

Daria Witt 1978

I found this poem in grade 9 in an anthology of poetry written by troubled American youth.  I have a vivid memory of that library - the quietude, the sun streaming through the window, the secret solutions to life's problems in between the covers of so many books.

I checked that book out and renewed it so many times my mother ended up buying it for me.  I still have it on my bookshelf and I still remember the words to a number of my favourite poems, the ones that resonated deeply and helped shape a fourteen year-old girl.

Something so innocent and simple as a poem or a picture can become a lasting influence.  My daughter found a tiny brass unicorn amongst her things (it used to be mine) so I told her this poem at bedtime.  I tried to explain what it meant to me and how important it was.  She didn't really get it, but I will try again when she's older.  I know she will find her own influences and keep them forever - she is her mother's daughter in this way.

And we go to the library, she and I.  She might not understand hope and regret, but she understands the infinite possibilities that lie waiting on the shelves.

What if I could see...

What if I wake up one day and realize that I'm not really as smart as I think I am, I'm just older and I wear glasses...

There is no gauge for smarts; no real comparative tool; no badge-to-wear.  A degree doesn't count. A job doesn't count.  I would like to think good grammar and spelling help but I've been told otherwise by those younger, bare-faced and, according to them, smarter.

When I was a kid, if you read books beyond what was assigned in class, books that were all words, you were smart. I figured I had to get glasses because of all the dimly-lit marathon reading sessions at bedtime.  I'm one of those people who can stay awake for hours with a good book, but who will fall asleep watching a movie.

And I love movies!  I work in the movie business, where a lot of people without degrees have had a lot of success, some by talent, some by smarts, some by sheer will and luck combined.  Does the Executive Producer go to bed at night thinking, hey, I'm pretty smart?  Maybe, maybe not.  Probably, if he or she wears glasses...

Glasses are lovely to hide behind; not just the wrinkles but the inherent reputation.  They are a fantastic prop, a crutch, to keep the wearer a half-inch or so removed from reality, with two tiny windows of security that allow for just enough distance to create that illusion of mystery.

But when we take them off...oh, how we can change.  Prettier? Less sarcastic? More aware of our appearance?  There is a shift of awareness from the inside (the brain) to the outside (the appearance).  Those who have never worn glasses have never had a prop with such an inherent meaning, so never have the feeling of turning "smart" on and off.  

I'll keep my glasses.  I like the surprise on people's faces when I show up without them.  I still like to wear my glasses for reading, in dim light, until its late at night, 'cause books are smart, right?

The blur from up here...

Much like a new camera, it can take some experimentation and playing with the settings to get relaxed with a new project, such as this personal blog.  Here