Looks like we escaped that crazy, record breaking rainstorm on Long Island just in time. We were watching the weather all day, wondering if our flight would get delayed, but it was on time and we even flew in 45 minutes early, missing the storm on the East Coast by a few hours. I feel like we’ve had some good weather karma this summer, escaping rain on market days when it’s been in the forecast.
The days here in Washington so far have been drizzly and cool. We come in August because it’s usually a guarantee of the best weather of the year. The sun usually shines and the temps are warm but dry, and it feels like an escape from the humidity back home. This summer in NY, however, have been unusual in that we barely hit above 85 degrees and for the most part, wasn’t as humid as you would expect when you conjure up images of hazy East Coast summers. The weather this summer has been spectacular, in fact. The grayness here so far has been fine – typical of weather here year round and it reminds me of the days when I lived here. I think about our vaguely loose plan of moving back here in 20 or so years – you know, when we’re ready to retire or whatever that means, and whether I can truly get used to the damp and the gray again. I get cold easily. But it feels good right now, wrapping a jacket and a sweater when we’re out in the mornings and putting on socks for what seems like the first time in weeks.
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It’s hard to believe how much bigger the kids are since the last time we visited our friend Sara’s lakehouse 2 years ago. They seemed so little the previous years we’ve spent our Fourth of July here. So much has happened to both our families in the past year, but there’s nothing like sitting out on the dock in the first morning light, taking in all the sparks of light that reflect off the water’s surface. This year the girls were able to swim across the lake to the other side of the dock, with flotation devices of course, but still an accomplishment. They marked their names on the inside of the living room closet, adding their names to the list of family and friends who have completed that swim in past years (never mind that they technically cheated). They’re etched now into the history of the house.
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Can never underestimate the importance of travel, even if it’s just a 4 hour drive away. Sometimes you need to break away from your life to gain perspective on some decisions you’ve been wavering on. I’m always eager to see something new. Time spent with family is good too. As my cousins and I got older, our big extended family stopped getting together for various reasons that our parents never shared. Sometimes years went by. It takes effort to stay in touch, but when it happens you realize how important family can be, especially now that a younger generation is involved. The kids really do love to spend time with extended family. It’s often not “what are we doing” that gets asked at holidays, but “who are we spending it with?”
I also met a long time online friend for the first time this trip. I feel like I haven’t been doing this as much as I have in the past, maybe because I think there was a period of time when I was closing in, but sometimes these meetings just feel right, like picking up a conversation where you had left off in emails, but in person. My friend and I walked around Boston for miles and miles. She showed me some of her favorite streets including Commonwealth Avenue which reminded me of a prettier Eastern Parkway here in Brooklyn. The magnolias were in peak bloom all along the avenue and it felt good to be moving, talking, and enjoying the milder weather and sunshine.
I recently made a set of decisions that I’m unsure of. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I coast solely on my gut and not on careful examination of the pros and cons. Well, let me back up because I think you all know I tend to overthink things. In the end though, even after endless deliberation, I go with my gut. I’m waiting to see if they were the right choices. It can be nerve-wracking.
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We’re spending a few days on the Massachusetts Coast this Spring Break. It’s beautiful, but cold. We’re happy to be by the ocean again and see rocky shorelines and hunt for shells and treasures. We’ve missed it.
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Can’t seem to get rid of the snow. Not when you have a storm every single week. Because just when you think that maybe some of that week-old frozen ice of a snow pile is ever so slightly starting to melt, this happens:
And the very next morning after a storm, more of this:
But I have to say, when I walked the girls to school this morning with the sun shining so brightly that I had my sunglasses on because the sun reflecting off the snow was almost blinding, you couldn’t help but remark how beautiful it was, particularly since it was a balmy 35 degrees. I heard similar chatter all around me as parents walked their kids to school. “Hey, it’s not so bad out, it’s kinda warm!” Apparently, 40 is the new 60.
The girls are re-reading the Little House on the Prairie books and I was reminded of how much I loved “The Long Winter” in particular when I was a kid. Made me want to go grab it off the bookshelf and read it again, partly because we’ve become such a society of complainers and wimps. Let me read about real hardships! Not that I’m not happy I live in this century with modern comforts and all, but I am rather fascinated by how people lived and survived without all the things that we take for granted today.
I remember meeting a handful of various people from my travels around the country when I was young who did choose to “drop out” and live out in nature without the comforts of things like running water, heat or electricity. They were essentially squatting in the woods, building temporary shelters which often consisted of a raised wooden platform and a network of tarps to shield against rain and wind. Survivalists, hippies, I don’t know what you would call them if you had to put a label on them at all, but it was an eye-opener for this city-raised kid. I’ve camped out in much the same fashion, but only for weeks at a time, not months like some of the people I’ve met. On a few occasions I would spend a few days with them in their make-shift homes, strangers really, whom I would just meet rather randomly, but I guess we trusted our guts and instincts enough to know when a situation felt safe. Not once in my years of travel did I ever find myself in any kind of situation that was less than safe.
Were my friends and I just lucky? Did we have a guardian angel watching over us during our travels? I have no idea, but that trust we put in the world enabled us to cross paths with people I would not have normally met had I stayed in my little bubble in the city. Sometimes I think about some of those people and wonder what they’re doing now. Like this girl I met somewhere in Massachusetts who lived in the woods 6 months out of the year in a shelter made of scrap lumber and tarps – kind of like a treehouse, but on the ground. She had a futon on the side of shack that was protected under tarps, but she often slept on the other side under stars when the skies were clear. Her belongings were minimal – some books, a few change of clothes, dishware enough to cook and eat from, a notebook and some pencils, all neatly stacked on the side of her little dwelling next to a tree. When she needed more supplies she would run into town on a bicycle, picking up only what she needed for a week or two. And this is how we met. It’s funny, but I never questioned why she wanted to live this way, so isolated from everybody and everything. When I was with her for those few days, I just accepted it as what it was.
I don’t remember her name, or the names of most of the other people I briefly met crossing paths. But on certain days like this snowy one, I think about how we traveled and learned from people like the girl who lived in the woods, that you don’t really need all this stuff to live a happy life. Isn’t this true? The snow reminds me that at times I feel like I live in a snowglobe, all insulated and small. Those encounters were like blips in my life from a past that I sometimes wonder was really mine, and I may not be the same person as I was years ago, but I keep those life lessons learned through travels tucked away deep inside and I know that it informs the way I live my life now.
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