Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Seattle II

Rattlesnake Ledge
This trip was easier than the first - in part because I switched hotels. The first place I stayed, Larkspur Landing, wanted to be a nice hotel. It was a bit run down around the edges, but that's not a problem in my book. The part where it hadn't been properly cleaned in some time? (There was a visible layer of dust along the edges of the hallways and the furniture.) That was a problem. The ill-equipped workout room? also a problem - there was no place for me to get my exercise fix in. And you KNOW I NEED my exercise fix to stay in a good mood.

This past trip, I moved to the Silver Cloud Eastgate. Much better, no complaints here. They have an exercise room worthy of the name.  The room was clean and fresh; the bed was more comfortable. ahhhh.   

Work was work, by the time the weekend came, I was ready to stretch my legs. Several people had recommended the hike up to Rattlesnake Ledge. The WTA trail guide said it was a beautiful trail, but crowded. It recommended we go early.

So, early Saturday morning, one of my traveling co-workers, Corey, and I set out bright and early. We got to the trailhead around eight - I thought we were in good shape. The way up the hill was fun. Corey is not an experienced hiker, and about 3/4 of the way up, began to cuss under his breath, asking himself why he'd thought it was a good idea to spend a perfectly good Saturday morning walking in the woods over rocks. As he huffed and puffed and glared at me, I just kept laughing under my breath and telling him it wouldn't be too much longer. And it wasn't - it was another twenty minutes - though I'm sure, to him, it felt like at least another hour.

But we prevailed, and reaching the end of the trail, stepped out onto a ledge with an amazing view. And a crowd of people.  I'm used to getting to the end of a hike and finding zero to a dozen people there. Here, there were about fifty scattered around the rock ledge, staking out spots for a morning snack. Not the moment of peace I'd been anticipating, especially since someone had their music blaring. But there was enough space to pull up a hunk of rock and rest our tired legs, take a few pictures and eat a banana. Our fellow climbers were a diverse bunch - young, old, all colors, several nationalities. It was good to see.

As always, the downhill climb was easier on the lungs, harder on the knees. It was a LOT more crowded.  We didn't go 100 yards without having to pull over to the side to let yet another group of climbers go by. We saw none of the trail runners we'd seen on the way up - it would have been impossible to get any rhythm going, and I'm sure they knew that. There were several more music lovers (now I know I'm getting old and grumpy - dissing their climbing music!). There were families with their young hikers-in-training, there were groups of teens, lots of couples. There was a gal, at least six months pregnant, with a toddler in a carry pack on her back. (I was impressed...) We passed so many people, I was starting to form visions of a standing-room only crowd at the top, with the people on the edge hanging on tight so as to not take the 300' drop. I was glad I'd paid attention to the get there early part!

By the time we got back to our starting point, Corey's mood had shifted - he was SO glad we'd gotten out and wasn't the view beautiful and where are we going to go next time. That was a great workout, I feel alive, if we do this every week, I'll be in great shape!

Gotta love Corey!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day

Dear Mom,

When I was sixteen, and said goodbye to you for the last time, I knew I'd never see you again. I also knew that never would be a long, long time.

Thirty-nine years have passed. Time has, mostly, healed my wounds. I am seven years older than you ever got to be, a concept still hard for me to wrap my mind around. Mother's Day has never been easy for me. This year, as I sit in a hotel room in Seattle, far away from home, I've been fighting tears all morning. I miss you, still and again.

There's so much I have to tell you, so much you will never hear. After you left, I put you on a pedestal for a long time. I created a vision of perfection - of perfect love and devotion. But with you stuck on your pedestal, I couldn't reach you. I couldn't love you, I could only worship you. It was after I took you down, examined your flaws and realized that yes, you loved us, but you were not perfect and your love wasn't perfect, that was I able to begin to heal. You were not perfect, yet you loved and were loved, and so I learned I didn't need to be perfect to be love and be loved.

You have grandchildren, and great-grandchildren you will never see. Now and again I talk of you to my children, but I can see my words don't reach them. They will never know you; to them, you are just a few fading pictures and dusty stories. Yet, I know they know you despite the distance. For what I am was rooted by your love and teaching, nourished by your examples.

I sometimes wonder how our family would be different if you had lived longer. Would you have been able to give Maria the confidence she needed to believe she was lovable?  Now she is frail; barring a miracle, she will never be healthy again. Her world is narrowed to two cluttered rooms in a second story walk-up. Her hourglass, almost run out. Are you out there somewhere, waiting to greet her when her body finishes wearing out? I hope so.

My heart yearns to see you just one more time, to have you hold me in your arms just for a moment. Sometimes, I dream you've come back and I get the hug I've longed for. The dreams don't come often, but when they do I cherish them. How wonderful, to see you again. I've never doubted you loved us. I try to live so you would be proud of the woman I've become. I try to be strong.

But some days, strong falls apart and the tears come again and I've learned to let them come. For in the tears is the memory of the time when I was young and loved and nurtured. I was the one taken care of, instead of the one taking care of.  Those memories are precious to me.

I miss you, Mom.
I love you, always.
I hope you are happy, wherever you are.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Home I

It was good to be home.

I wallowed in the simple pleasures of getting to sleep in my own bed, making my latte each morning. I lingered on my daily walk around the park, I tackled my projects with gusto on the days rain permitted. (The cabinet doors are done - ready to install!)

While I was gone, someone came by with a paintbrush and, with broad strokes, colored all the trees in shades of joyful spring green - full of the promise of new growth and renewal.

I was home for just a week and the week went too quickly and yesterday I was on a plane again, headed for Seattle (again).

While I left reluctantly, I knew, like a preschooler, I would be fine once I got here.

When my kids were small, they didn't always want to go to school. I'd bring them to the door, and some days, instead of running off to play, they'd cling to me, not wanting me to leave. It was SO hard to peel them off, cheerfully say I'd see them at the end of the day, and leave them screaming in the room.

The teachers always assured me they were fine within a few minutes of when I left. I know they were telling the truth because I'd hover outside the room, peering in the window like a cat burglar, watching the tantrums play out. Invariably, within just a minute or two of my leaving, the teacher had successfully distracted my little one, tears disappeared, and they went off happily to play.

Sometimes, the transition is the hardest part.