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You can take a girl out of the Midwest, but she will never get tired of gazing on the wonders of the ocean!
Not too far from where I’m staying there’s a prime whale watching spot. Something no one has said within the state of Missouri. Ever.
I’ve been magnetically drawn there. During the migration seasons, volunteer whale watchers sit each day with powerful binoculars to spot and record incoming, then passing whales along the coast at Point Vicente in Palos Verdes, Calif.
And now, I’ve seen whales. With my own eyes and without the use of binoculars. They come that close.
I’ve also seen them through a 75-300mm lens and put together a few clips of one whale splashing down the coast. You can see the whale watching tote board that’s constantly updated, some of the many whale watchers, some boats and fishermen and birds and three dolphins.
Garage sales unearth so much: people, things, emotions. Mine this weekend was no exception.
People: There was a wide range of humanity, a sort of Fellini’s dream parade. Super sweet women, men, children; strangers getting into arguments; a woman who told us about her trekking adventures in Nepal 40 years ago; a social anthropologist from NY; and a few squirrely people verging on scary – yes, there were those.
But there were mainly lovely, honest, chill people, like the woman who was about to buy several vinyl record albums.
Things: The last batch of my LPs. I’d had a huge collection. But recently, I started parting with the discs bit by bit. The final nail in the coffin was donating my Akai turntable to a thrift store last month. So, why hang on to the last vestiges of my 20th Century life in music? There were only about 125 left.
I took pictures of the most special albums, to be able to look back at them without taking up physical space in my life any more. And a very few I’ve kept as art items: The Judy’s, “Washarama,” obviously.
I’m glad my Mad Man Across the Water, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Talking Book, Celebrate Me Home, and Buddha and the Chocolate Box will make someone happy. Squeeze, the Police, Marshall Crenshaw, so long. Adrian Belew, be well.
So when this lovely woman, probably about 28-years old, handed me her stack, I looked through it to see who was leaving me in this bundle. And in the middle of the stack:
The lovely woman said, “You can take that back, if you want.”
Emotions: I finally felt the loss. Robin Williams was one of the few people who legitimized being who you really are. He was a testament to better living through creative expression, of living out ones creativity and being true to it.
Robin Williams’ creativity was brilliant, genius, of course. Most people don’t reach that level and aren’t as witty, funny, clever.
But. Most people are also not allowed to be, or don’t allow themselves to be. Most people are too afraid of looking/being seen as ridiculous. And those who dare to fill their lives with constant improv are seen as crazy. Most people might lack Robin Williams’ talent, but, for the most part, they also lack his bravery, and, on the other hand, the acceptance he found early on.
Robin Williams’ life was the constant, in-your-face reply to judgmental and uptight on-lookers. “I will be myself, and I will make you laugh.”
It took bravery, and it took defiance. It took a lot of energy to produce that much dynamism. “From the highest highs to the lowest lows,” is not an uncommon pairing.
He was a role model for me, and a world of others, in a career that spanned 40 years. To be brave. To be yourself. To be fearlessly creative.
And after his death that model has grown: To ask for help when you feel helpless. And to hear a cry for help, especially when the help is vital and the cry is silent.
The garage sale was a lot of work and a success in many ways. I have no regrets about the items I loved leaving me. They’re now in someone else’s hands.
At the end of the day, it’s not the stuff that you really keep, anyway. It’s the way they made you feel and the lessons you learned from them.
NOTE: If you or someone you know is in an emotional crisis, NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, can help.
NAMI HelpLine: The Information HelpLine is an information and referral service which can be reached by calling 1 (800) 950-NAMI (6264), Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., EST or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is what makes it so hard!
See this mound of letters and cards?
These are treasured messages from past decades of friendships and family support. They hold lessons, stories and love. Trying to get in touch with my hardest core and deepest non-sentimental junkless self, I managed to weed out a grocery sack of mail. But still, this is left.
I still recognize the handwriting of friends I haven’t seen in 20 years or more. Their voices and what they say are so “them.” I read a few lines and I don’t need to read the signature to know who wrote them.
Many of the letters have re-sealed themselves, as if they’d never been open, just waiting silently, patiently for me to find them and receive them again for the first time.
This pile is in a box now. I can’t part with these, yet. It’s like getting a box of candy that magically refills itself. You can go back anytime and have the same dark chocolate truffle again. Always fresh, always a pleasant memory and another reason to smile.
A good thing is happening. I’m opening the next chapter of my life. One big part of that is cleaning and clearing out items from my past and my family’s past.
I’m saying goodbye to childhood dress-up shoes and books I loved but won’t read again, to stuffed frogs and coin-filled paperweights and other sentimental artifacts that helped define me or my brother or my parents or their parents, but sit just gathering dust and deteriorating.
So instead of the harsh and final “buh-bye” that this process could be, I’m changing it to a fond farewell by documenting those things on this blog, an archive in photos and memories.
I’ll try to keep them brief and hope you enjoy seeing them. If you had the same items, or if something brings back a memory, I’d love to hear your thoughts and reflections!
I’ll begin with the first item on the give-away pile today: The best dress-up shoes I ever had:
As most little girl dress-up shoes, these were a pair of my mom’s discards. They were from Harzfeld’s department store in Kansas City, Mo. A pretty chic shop that my mother frequented when she was looking for a special outfit or party dress.
I felt so grown up in these velvet rose-pommed shoes. Like a movie star or a princess. Beautiful. Special.
An evening unrolls like it’s supposed to, sometimes. But the way it’s supposed to unroll can be a complete surprise. Like last Friday night.
I met friends at La Bodega, a tapas restaurant and home of the best pitcher of sangria outside of Spain. We ended our small plate orgy with an espresso, but the night continued.
We walked to PT’s Coffee, a recent KC transplant from Topeka three blocks east on Southwest Boulevard.
On the way back to our cars, we found a car show in our path. And standing in front of us was one of the cutest dogs I’d encountered in hours: French Fry, an 8-month-old Boston Terrier, with his owner Malcolm (with baseball cap, on left) and Malcolm’s friend Professor.
I’m always amazed and grateful for those small moments where you have the fortune to meet a new person or come across a gathering or see the moon in the sky at such an angle that you’ll never come upon again. The random adventure and ephemeral beauty of everyday life, especially when shared with good friends.
I met sister-brother team Angela and Sam at the Malibu Farmers Market on Sunday. Fitting to happen during the week of National Sibling Day.
Angela and Sam make frozen desserts on a stick, like Popsicles. Original, pretty, tasty Popsicles. I was torn: Try the more exotic avocado-fudge or lemon-rosemary combos, go for the delicious promise of pure strawberry joy or jump into a bath of nostalgia with orange cream?
Winner: Orange cream BuddyPop
A great choice and discovery; it was not the orange Dreamsicle served from the Popsicle truck of my childhood. The orange was orangier. The cream was creamier. Nothing artificial. Like biting into fresh frozen Valencia oranges with straight-off-the-farm half-and-half goodness.
Thank you, Angela and Sam! Check out their Facebook Page, seek them out and give their sweet treats a try when you’re in Southern California!