Wednesday morning. It’s 10:00am and I am sipping my homemade espresso with almond milk froth on top and just a dash of cinnamon. Funny to think I used to spend $5 a day on this habit that has so quickly become an enjoyable do-it-yourself task. Leaning back on the patio loveseat, I stretch my legs out to absorb the sunlight that streams in ever so generously this time of morning. There is a stillness outside that at first I found eery, yet now I’ve come to embrace.
I have been hesitant to write about this new “normal” that we are all, in our own ways, trying to navigate through during this unprecedented time period. Mostly because, up to this point, it’s provided me with many more positives than negatives. I suppose part of me feels a tinge of guilt from that fact. Knowing how many people have lost their jobs, have had to suffer decreased income, who have lost family members and friends from the pandemic, and of course for the health care workers who have had to witness a magnitude of innocent people die very much alone. I feel I should be grieving alongside them all.
Every morning I wake with gratitude. That myself and my boys are healthy, that we have plenty of food to sustain us, a cozy home to enjoy together while we are quarantined, and that I have remained fully employed, despite the economic state. I have spent the greater part of the past six years in particular, with a thankful heart. But this experience has deepened that sense for me, and brought me back in touch with the simplest of life’s pleasures. A fast paced nation with unparalleled momentum, at a sudden standstill. I walk outside and see father’s playing catch with their sons on a Tuesday afternoon, mothers and daughters enjoying coffee and conversation on their patios, and couples walking together in the evenings laughing and conversing. And I can’t help but think, at what cost we have found contentment.
Part of me yearns to return to the old normal, ready to join my girlfriends for happy hour, backyard bbq’s, and crowded coffee shops in the morning. But during this “great pause” as it’s been deemed…..I can’t help but contemplate this one piece of advice:
“In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.” – Dave Hollis
So as the days pass, quiet in my home, sans the distractions I’ve become accustomed to, I welcome the silence; the stillness. I breathe it in and from it I exhale a newfound love for life. Far from vibrant days in the city surrounded by tourists, the acoustic music of the street performers, the aroma of fresh coffee and food. This is life. The life we all have waiting for us when we get home, when we are our truest, most authentic selves. How we receive this opportunity to return to our true selves paves the way for a society of PRESENT individuals.
Happy Earth Day
Tuesdays are the new Fridays. Or so I tell myself….
I’ve scored a cozy window seat here at the Rambler….a unique GastroPub next to the Zeppelin hotel on Geary St.
I came to study…although I have allowed myself more distractions than I should. I told myself just this morning that I am only allowed to drink on Fridays. Well…that Hotel California (their lovely little spin on an Old Fashioned) was just calling my name. And boy did it not disappoint! You know when you drink whiskey how you get that immediate warmth in your chest? Well it slipped me into the relaxation I needed to shake what’s been weighing me the past three days.
It’s February. The month of love to some; the month of loss to me. Although I don’t outwardly project or even necessarily feel grief, it’s inevitably there. Exactly one week from today, it will be seven whole years on this planet without my Father. I get by knowing how proud he’d be. Of me, of my boys. I miss him, but man am I thankful for the parts of him I wear so proudly.
Back to the table. Laptop center focus, but promptly placed in front of me are a perfectly plated array of warm, marinated olives. God I love this city. I am IN LOVE. The options are limitless (as long as you’re game to explore them). The amount of cozy spots I can retreat to after work are abundant. I feel more at home here amongst a plethora of strangers strolling the streets, than I do my hometown.
I am seven weeks into school, almost done with my first “session”, two accelerated classes of eight weeks each. Some weeks I have no idea how I’m holding my sanity together. Other weeks all I have to do is quickly remind myself what I’m capable of, then I smash through my assignments with my head held high as the sky. I have already learned so much, educationally, as well as about myself.
Again with the table….any woman knows the key to curing any sort of hormonal or emotional “funk” is carbs. So naturally I order their summer squash pizza, with arugula, and caramelized onions. OH. MY. LANTA. (In the words of DJ Tanner…I don’t care if I’m aging myself). Heavenly is an understatement. THIS, this is my Eat, Pray, Love moment. You know the scene when she tells her friend that they are going to eat and enjoy the pizza, then go shopping for bigger pants? Or the moment she makes love to her pasta, all alone, without a care in the world? Took me a while, but that movie now has a special place in my heart. Simply because I GET IT. And I am more or less LIVING IT.
I have also fallen in love with Seattle. I see myself moving there when the kids are grown and I am slowly gravitating my next steps toward that goal. And as fate has it…two older ladies just sat next to me and I hear one mention her hairdresser in Seattle. In normal Melissa fashion, I politely interject myself. And sure enough, she lives in Seattle. Grew up there in fact!! Ever so often the Universe drops these hints to me, and I hear them, Universe, loud and clear. Maybe it’s Dad…..let’s go with that.
Life is full of ups and downs….this month, this moment, being a prime example. You can take the bad (like grief) and you can take it for what it is, but sweeten it with all of the good. And man is the good, pretty great.
The sun is setting over the city….which provides quite the view from the 21st. This is my favorite time of day to be at work. Watching the sun fade and the city begin to light up, soaking in the quiet around me. I look over at a familiar sight. The offices next to us have windows that bow out, allowing us a partial view into them. Every evening after he finishes seeing his patient’s, the Dentist next door sits alone and completes his paperwork…sometimes for hours. It’s funny to me that so many people desire success, and yet never really ponder the time and sacrifices involved in the achievement of it. Of course the definition of success varies from person to person. For me, however, as I sit here at the start of a new year, a new decade, I can’t help but contemplate my greatest accomplishments thus far, and those soon to come.
It’s been almost a year since I started this endeavor of working in the city. I have learned such a great deal about my resilience from this experience. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t foster a great deal of gratitude for where this opportunity has taken me, and I can honestly say if I had to go back…I’d make the same decision a hundred times over. And the self efficacy that has resulted, has now led me to my next big venture…..that of going to University online full time to obtain my Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting. My four year goal being to start my own business and move closer to this city that has for so many years harbored my heart and soul.
If you had looked me dead in the eye five years ago and told me that I’d be working in the heart of this city, for such a fun loving group of people, starting college again, having just taken my two beautiful boys on a wonderful Hawaiian vacation, all on my own….I’m not sure I would believe you. Not because I ever doubted that I COULD accomplish any of those things…..but out of astonishment at how swiftly the Universe facilitated the cards falling exactly where they were meant to.
I enter this year with nothing but a full heart, an eager mind, and a deeper soul…more so than ever before. I firmly believe that the moment you start elevating your thoughts, wholeheartedly…….big things happen. Speak what you want into the Universe and live your life accordingly….watch the magic happen.
I wish those of you reading nothing but love and success for 2020!
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 ever tasted.
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
⁄ Indonesian Fried Rice with Gulf Shrimp ⁄
Concrete Jungle ~ San Francisco, CA 10/15/19
Chasing Pavement ~ Placer County, California, July 16, 2019
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.
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.