Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Thank You. Muchas Gracias.

Writing about Mexico and memories felt like a private memorial, that I had to get out of my head. Part therapy, part record keeping, so that my children could understand me and how I was feeling. I couldn't leave with 1 hour's notice, at 11 p.m. Monday night, to drive 16 hours for my abuelo's funeral. I was sad enough that he died, and I think I was even sadder to realize I was missing an opportunity to say goodbye, to share my story and hear theirs. Having always felt some uncertainty about my ability to write effectively about my memories and feelings, and being reluctant to commit to saying things out loud, writing this post was liberating and personal. It also felt as though I have barely crossed the threshold of a part of my life, of a hundred stories, of things I know and believe, but have yet to give a voice to.

Blogging can be a lonely business. I've been writing for a while. Some posts are nearly pointless, and some posts are full of my deepest thoughts and happiest musings. As much as I have wanted to be a good writer, to reach people and start a conversation, I have mostly resigned myself to the puzzled looks from family and friends, and feeling like a goof. Receiving comments is a relatively new pleasure, and it is wonderful. Bloggers, you know it's true: feedback, encouragement, connection, community, discussions and exchanges are the fuel and frosting that top the blogging cake.

Thank you for your comments. You may have convinced me I can say things, say them well enough to start a conversation that we can all share. But mostly, because of what you shared with me, I felt like I had kind and tender company as I sorted my thoughts and feelings and began to say goodbye to my abuelo, to chapters and days that in some ways are forever beyond my reach. I could not be at the funeral, where they say it rained for days, and the lightning did not wait for the thunder, but lit the night sky with every percussion. I could not be there to hold my abuela and to share the grief, and the healing that comes with company. I have been to too many funerals in the last year, and I have seen enough death and loss to understand that support and compassion are a tremendous resource for comfort and courage. Thank you for reading about my abuelo, about things I am trying to make sense of, and feelings I want to hold on to. Thank you for responding and encouraging me, for being supportive and compassionate... it helps. I feel less alone.

I think I have been afraid to post again, because I was pretty sure I wouldn't be as eloquent or interesting as I seemed to have managed in my last post. What? I'm not too proud to admit positive feedback felt really good. Really good. So, maybe I will slip back into mediocrity and obscurity. Maybe I have the rough draft of the next best seller, but writing is like surfing. Some days you paddle, paddle, paddle and never get a ride.

And some days you catch a wave.

Perhaps every post won't be an exhilarating ride, but I am hooked on blogging, and I love looking through the archives and seeing my children, recalling the things they've done and said. I love reminding myself that there have been good days and bad days, and I am still around to know the difference.

Independence Day was a good day. I planned a long day at the beach with the children, expecting Geoff would work, as he usually has to, but he exchanged this day for working the weekend (which he usually does) and he joined us for an entire day of surf, sand and sun fog.

Truthfully, I love the fog. It was overcast, but warm, and it made it easier to play all day, without feeling scorched. We dug a private pool for Maria. Max, Geoff and William did a lot of bodysurfing. The beach was crowded and happy. We had chips and dip. I love chips and dip. We ate strawberries, we walked, we built drip castles.

It didn't stay crowded. By late afternoon the beach was deserted, and we enjoyed a very foggy walk, collecting all kinds of treasure along the way. Suddenly I decided to tile our shower with the smooth stones that cover our beaches. Not the shower here, at Garage Mahal. The shower in our own, future, imaginary, hopeful, some day house. I walked back to our base-camp carrying about 15 pounds of shower tiles. It's a start.

Someone got hold of my camera. Notice my relaxed, at ease expression?

Nothing's ever as easy as I think it should be. This day, this no-stress day at the beach was days in the planning and took hours to prepare and pack for. I was totally absorbed in making an idyllic, classic sort of celebration. I even envisioned presenting one of those clever fruit decorated flag cakes. So, you know, I was scurrying around, gathering towels, finding swim shorts, hats, sunblock and anticipating every need and patriotic whim. And finally, we were ready to head out. Stop for gas, and pick up ice, then the beach, and our beautiful celebration of freedom and family time. In the market I grabbed an extra bag of corn chips and a magazine to read while lounging luxuriously, and I kept noting how terrific everyone looked. Cute T-shirts, red, white and blue details, and snazzy summer sandals. Everyone was looking dressed for a holiday. It wasn't until then that I realized I had forgotten an important detail... I was still in my pajamas. 'nough said.

I let the children decorate the Fourth of July Fruit Flag Cake.

It was beautiful.

It was a very good day.


YayaOrchid said...

Your writing could never be mediocre, Natalie. You have a sense of capturing the elusive word at just the right moment and place in your writing. I wish I could write like you. You are a brave soul. Writing from within your innermost being takes courage. So please continue to share your beautiful journal with us.

amy smith said...

yesterday i spent a good part of the day getting the kids ready for the pool, when we got there, i realized i had forgotten to put on my swimsuit.
glad you got to spend your day with your sweetheart!

Dallas said...

You're a wonderful writer - it's very smooth, like someone sitting down with you and telling you a story. I love that last photo - they're so cute snuggled up together.

Laura Jane said...

A day is not complete for me without my touchstone of chickeny-whatever-is-on-the-menu-for-the-day -goodness.

I believe that a day spent in your PJ's is a day in which you don't age, and is added to the end of your life. To spend it with your lovely family, sur la plage, has gotta be worth TWO days worth of living.

Keep it up hon.

Much love

Katie said...

I love hearing about your life - good, bad, the other. Keep up blogging.

It's funny, I seem to be coming across more posts like this one in which the author thanks the readers and the blog for helping them out. Honestly, I used to "hate" people, but I couldn't imagine my life without all of you anymore.



Mama Spark said...

Natalie, I love hearing about your life! So different from my own and yet sometimes so similar! Looks like you all had a good day at the beach!!

Chris said...

Natalie, I ALWAYS enjoy your posts! You write from your heart, whether happy or sad, and that's why I visit here every day.

Please keep on sharing, ok?

Em said...

I love reading what you write, whether it's about something deep and thoughtful, or something crazy and off the wall! I love the picture of you with your hat and ?PJs? Cute! I'm glad you guys were able to have a great day together as a family - and on the beach! I need to make a trip to the beach... a day trip... Hmm...

Blue Yonder said...

Write on, sister. You were meant for it.

Fifi Flowers said...

Looks like a fun filled day!
I love children when they are asleep and looking so angelic!

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

De nada, senora.

tea time and roses said...

Hey Natalie!

I don't think I have to tell you just how much I enjoy your writing! Coming here always bring a smile! What a fabulous time at the beach, and the photos are beautiful! Continue to enjoy your summer!



d.a. said...

New to your blog (saw your comment on Honest Meat), and wanted to check you out :-). Love the pics with the writing.

nikkipolani said...

Whatever you do, don't stop, okay? We love you, y'know. The sky in these photos looks somber, but the smiles on the children's faces and your quizzical look says you all had a wonderful day.

Jennifer said...

I think we're the only ones who expect big, who expect perfection from ourselves every time. Everyone else is happy to hear the news, delighted to see the pictures, amazed simply that someone got a post done (knowing as we do that it's not always easy). It's a relief, isn't it, when we get to see once again that other people are like us -- eloquent at times, silly at others, everyday-ish at still other times -- you know, human.

I've been reflecting on grandparents, and thinking about how I lost one grandfather when I was in 2nd grade and the other during the summer after 8th grade. One grandmother died while I was in college and the other shortly after. I have not lived my adult life with grandparents, and Dean certainly never met any of them, and never even met my dad. I know how deeply you treasure your family, I appreciate how acute your sense of loss is -- especially in a year that has been so damned hard. I mean just to say what an amazing gift you've had, having these wonderful people in your life for as long as you have. You've had the ability to have your life reflected in their eyes -- they've seen you grow up, marry, have children. These are not guarantees-- for them nor for us. So keep turning over the memories, the reflections in your head, keep getting them out, writing them down. And keep treasuring the insights into yourself, into your life, that they give you.