Season of Solitude

As I sit here writing this post, I’m at the E&O Kitchen in San Francisco…..yet another “usual” spot I’ve acquired in my time here thus far. It’s a 22 year old modern, Asian-fusion restaurant with an attentive, kind, Hispanic bartender named Sergio….who swiftly  pours me a glass of perhaps the best sparkling rosé I’ve had in my 32 years on earth.

I am alone, as seems to be the theme of my life at the moment. In fact, I’d venture to say I’ve eaten alone this year far more times than in the company of others. And with this fact….I find myself totally and completely content. COMPLETE in general.

This year, has yet again, been one of transition. Transition’s bigger than I could have ever bargained for or imagined for myself. And that right there, that is why I consider myself a life enthusiast. I love, I relish, in the fact that life can truly change in such ways that in just a short span of time, we hardly recognize our old selves, our old lives, and we see the world with a brand new set of eyes.

I am still a social butterfly. The gal that makes friends wherever she goes, has no qualms about striking up a conversation with a stranger, and does her best thinking in the midst of noise. But I find these days (just a week shy of my 33rd birthday now), that I choose solitude over most things when given the choice. Getting lost in a book, forgetting to check my phone, taking a long bubble bath, or binging on Netflix. My mental health is of the upmost importance. And sometimes it takes us being clouded and tortured first, to truly get to this point, of choosing well for ourselves. But I have arrived. Truly and fully.

“Be alone. Eat alone. Take yourself on dates. Sleep alone. In the midst of this, you will learn about yourself. You will grow. You will figure out what inspires you. You will curate your own dreams. Your own beliefs. Your own stunning clarity.” Unknown

 

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⁄ Indonesian Fried Rice with Gulf Shrimp ⁄

View from the 21st

I’ll never forget the way the rain fell that night…angled straight toward me and unforgiving. And yet I walked those four blocks back to the parking garage as if I were stopping to smell a rose at every business entrance lining that bustling San Francisco street. It was truly one of those moments where you know undoubtedly your life is about to change in a big way. Everything was more vivid: the sights, the smells, even each breath a little deeper. I felt as if the past five years of my life had been leading up to this.

Shortly after that momentous night, I heard this quote. A quote that had I heard a year prior, would not have carried the same weight:

“When opportunity comes, it’s too late to prepare.”

Rewind back five years to early 2014. A 20 something girl with a fresh love for the city and pipe dreams of walking up to some high rise building in the financial district and securing a job for a venture capital company. Lining up interviews there and wondering if I’d even have enough money for parking. But that didn’t stop me. I now know I wasn’t ready then, but that dreamer mentality that threw caution and common sense to the wind…that was what would eventually lead me here.

Amber always says “everything in life happens for a reason”. It’s a common saying, but I don’t know that it truly resonated with me before this past year of my life. So many things having fallen into place, even if preceded by sadness, heartache, and temporary loss of direction.

What started out as a fancy girls night in the city, ended up being my ticket to a better life. Everything orchestrated perfectly, in hindsight.

Anyone that knows me, knows I love live music. And of all the times I’d been to San Francisco, I had never visited the Black Cat Club, a famous jazz spot in the Tenderloin. On a whim, I bought tickets to a Saturday night show, hoping I could convince Amber to join me, despite her prearranged trip to Lake Tahoe that weekend. As fate would have it, there was a snowstorm near Tahoe which deterred her trip. So off to the city we went.

I had my heart set on us having dinner at Morton’s, a swanky steak house in Union Square. I had been there a handful of times previously, but none as memorable as this would prove to be. As we sat at the bar giggling and talking about dreams of future vacations, sipping sangria and indulging in the buttery lobster plated in front of us….I turned my attention to the quiet man seated next to me. He was sipping his red wine and as soon as he opened his mouth, he revealed a thick Irish accent. A conversation ensued, and as it turns out, he was a local business owner of almost 30 years. What his business needed, I had to offer. Amber urged me to get his business card, because as was often our motto: why not?

The next morning I had a bit of hesitation in reaching out to the man we met at the bar. I wasn’t sure it was a realistic pursuit. After all, I wasn’t actually looking for a job. But, I wasn’t happy with the one I had either. In fact, I’d felt for quite some time that where I was in life, specifically my career, was draining the excitement and creativity from me. Then all of a sudden that 20 something girl showed up in my heart, and I clicked SEND.

Six days later on a Friday afternoon, I sat upstairs at a hotel bar, downing a vodka soda for liquid courage and jotting down my questions for the impending interview just across the street in Union Square. The office was just steps away from the Sir Francis Drake hotel, a hotel I had stayed at in times past and that housed the famous Starlight Room with stellar views of the city. I remember looking out those windows on many carefree nights in awe.

That evening after the interview, it rained. I let my hair and clothes get drenched. It didn’t matter. Nothing could kill my excitement at that moment. I had just been offered the opportunity of a lifetime (at least my life thus far), and I knew now that I was READY. All of the knowledge gained, the experiences, the disappointments, the changes of direction, the thirst for more in the past five years…were pointing me to this.

As I sit here at my desk, staring down from the 21st floor of this well known high rise in San Francisco and listening to the cable cars go by below…there’s a rainbow in the distance. I feel like I’m home. For the first time in a long time, I am exactly where I am meant to be.

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December

It’s that time of year again. December. Not only your birthday month, but the time of year notorious for families gathering. Yet another harsh reminder of your absence.

I often get stuck on the idea of stories needing a happy ending. Not grief. In fact, I’m not sure grief has an ending at all. Sure, some things become more bearable. But there are still those dates, those occasions when the sting feels fresh. Even some unexplainable times of year when you are suddenly acutely aware of that pain being just below the surface. Then you catch yourself subconsciously tucking it down, suppressing it to avoid the almost inevitable overspill of emotion that will erupt if you don’t.

The end of a year, yet another year accepting this reality. The pain from a life lost knows nothing of time.

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Reflection

It’s 11pm on a Tuesday night in late November. I lie wide awake with my mind whirling , as has become my norm in the past few weeks. The only thing quieting my frazzled thoughts is the subtle snore coming from my eight year old snuggled next to me. Yes, I know I shouldn’t be letting him sleep in my bed, but as I look at his little face, so soft and peaceful…I know these moments are few and fleeting and that soon enough they’ll be a thing of the past. In this moment I feel enveloped with gratitude, that I get to be his Mom; their Mom. That the one thing I’m doing right, is loving them.

On a personal level, this hasn’t been the best year. Not the worst year by any means….but certainly not the best. And the older I get, the more I recognize that stagnancy is almost worse than turmoil, than affliction. Because what often stems from the latter two is perspective; whereas the other tends to lead to a place of mediocrity of mind and soul.

I’ve so much healing yet to do and growing and brainstorming, it’s often overwhelming. But as this year comes to a close, I try to make peace with all of the things that didn’t come to fruition; with all of the times I misjudged and made decisions that didn’t flow with the current of my life, that led me upstream then back where I started…..and I forgive myself. Because sometimes that is truly all you can do. Love yourself enough to forgive.

This year has, however, brought me much closer to my boys; my heartbeats. Even on days I’ve felt like a complete failure, I closed my eyes at night knowing those little humans felt loved and happy and content. And that is everything. For them I am grateful and I am blessed.

In the coming year, my wish is to be the best version of myself not only for me, but for the little souls I’m guiding through this crazy thing called life.