Daily Journey Journal #256: peas in a pod

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From February 7, 2015

I met one of my best friends in the world, MM, the day I moved into the dorms freshman year if university. Awkward, painfully shy and intimidated by just about everyone, I quickly crafted a giant iceberg between me and all my fellow floor mates. MM, however, being the charmingly determined and logical person she is, ignored the iceberg, walked right over it and proceeded to melt it with her sweetness and hand of friendship. She pulled me into conversations about our classes and offered tid-bits about her life, and before I knew it, we were just about inseparable. It is safe to say, my life has never been the same and for that I am so thankful.

MM is the sort of person I would have been incredibly intimated by in high school. She is highly intelligent, driven, enthusiastic, funny, knowledgeable about all sorts of obscure things, devours books like chocolate, loves grammar and is not afraid to talk to most any stranger. She has an amazing knack for befriending just about anyone and her kindness draws people to her. She is the most compassionate and dedicated friend I have ever had in my life and I am happy to say that our friendship has weathered it all- the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful.

We learned the rough way that it isn’t always wise to live with your best friend. We learned the harder way that living with complete strangers is sometimes even less wise.We learned how to remain loyal, close friends through struggle and strife, stress and frustration. We learned how to support one another in becoming the women we want to be and in following our dreams.

After five years of challenging and learning from each other, I wasn’t sure what would become of us, of the friendship that had changed my life, changed me. It was hard to picture a day-to-day existence without MM nearby. But our paths diverged in a big way, and we took to our feet to wander towards our dreams. And, that was when we learned the most important lesson: how to remain strong friends despite the separation of time and distance.

We didn’t stay in close touch like we hoped we would.

We didn’t talk as much as we thought we would.

We didn’t do all the things people say you have to do to stay close over distance.

But, none of that mattered.

In a whirlwind visit today, we found that sometimes distance has no effect on friendship and that picking up where you left off is as easy as remembering to ride a bike. We still know each other almost better than we know ourselves, still share that nearly simultaneous brainwave that let’s us know what the other is thinking, still share the quirks that brought us together six, almost seven years ago.

We are still two peas in a pod, and will be for the rest of our lives. The pod might just have to stretch a bit to keep us together.

 

 

Daily Journey Journal #78: lasting habit

My index finger was purple. A deep, dark purple, like the color of my favorite marker, the scented kind that smelled like fruit. The tip of my narrow finger bulged slightly, turning darker and darker. My four-year-old self  admired the way the mint green rubber band spiraled along my finger. The purple and green together were pretty. I smiled happily to myself. Of all the times I had wrapped and wrapped my rubber band around my finger, it had never turned such a color of purple. So pretty.

I stood up to go show my dad.

And then, my finger started to hurt. It was a sharp, hard pain. I looked at my finger, confused. It kept hurting, the pain getting bigger and bigger. Tears stacked up in my eyes and then rolled down my cheeks, hot and salty. The pain did not go away. I wandered down the hallway into the living room, trying not to howl as I was prone to doing. As I went I held my throbbing finger in front of me.

“Daddy,” I said. “Daddy, owie, Daddy.”

My dad jumped out of his chair and crouched down in front of me to examine the tiny finger held out to him. Immediately, he unwound the rubber band. Loop after loop he pulled away. The pain slid away. After a few seconds my finger turned from purple back to its normal rosy color.

“K,” Dad said. “Do not ever do that again, ok?”

“Owie,” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “That hurts your finger. You need to be careful, ok? No more rubber bands.”

He put the rubber band in the pocket of his flannel shirt.

The effect was immediate. I glared at him, poking our my bottom lip and narrowing my eyebrows. He was taking my rubber band. My ehpay. Slowly, I held out my hand.

“Mine,” I said. “Ehpay.”

“No, K,” Dad said.

“Mine.”

“No more rubber bands.”

I stomped my tiny foot into the carpet.

“EHPAY!”

Dad stood up and went back to his chair.

“Please, Daddy,” I said, following him. “Ehpay?”

My fingers and wrist felt wrong without that smooth band around them. I needed that rubber band.

“No, KK,” he said. “Go play with your toys now. No more rubber bands.”

Tears came back and I clenched my little fists. I wanted it, needed it.

“Ehpay?”

Dad ignored me and I stood, staring at him, wondering if I could steal the one from his pocket.

“KK,” he said, reading my mind. “Go on now.”

I turned to stomp down the hallway. And then I remembered.

Tomorrow morning there would be a new ehpay. They always came in the morning when Daddy opened the newspaper.

Always, always.

 

Daily Journey Journal #77: a wash in the park

Running stark naked through the sprinklers in the biggest public park in town was not part of the plan for the evening. It is not a terribly wise thing to do, even in the dark, and if we had been informed that this would be the capstone of the night, we would have rolled our eyes. Responsible, reasonable girls, despite a history of skinny dipping in the mountains, simply didn’t do such things.

And yet, there we found ourselves, naked in the moonlight, the stars sparkling overhead, the cool breeze of late summer raising thousands of tiny bumps on our skin.

“I needed this,” my best friend said, standing in the shadow of a tree in case a car drove by along the street.

Our clothes were a jumbled pile at her feet. Behind her the sprinklers sprayed the open section of park. Outside the safety of the trees the grass was brightly lit by the streetlamps and the moon. My eyes scanned the walkway around the park for anyone lurking about. All was clear.

I looked back at my friend’s face. Her eyes were huge and a grin lit up her cheeks which had grown boney over the last few months. I’d forgotten what her smile looked like, what it was like to laugh together and get lost in the jungle of friendship. I grinned back.

My heart was pounding, cold water running off my hair and down my back. Goosebumps covered my arms, a shiver raced up my spine. The grass between my toes was soft, a damp carpet tickling the bottoms of my feet. The butterflies in my stomach were dancing, gleeful and anxious all in one flap of their wings.

We were alive. Truly and undoubtedly alive.

“One more time?” I asked.

I suppose there were a lot of  events that led to us being in those sprinklers that night. The love of skinny dipping was really just the tip of the iceberg. Beneath that was a whole world of emotions, frozen and waiting to crash upon an unsuspecting boat, against some rocky shore. Boyfriends and breakups, deaths and funerals, ending chapters and beginning new ones had weighed heavily upon our shoulders. For a time, I had worried that I would lose her, that she would slip away as quickly and unexpectedly as my cousin had some three months before. That fear had kept me by her side for weeks, helping her to find her smile again.

And we had found it.

“One more time,” she said.

We sprinted out from behind the trees and into the openness of the park, racing into the water shooting into the air. The icy jets  hit our bodies, pulling shrieks from our throats, bubbling up laughter and washing away the mud our tears had cast upon us while we’d wallowed in our pits of grief.

We were free, at least for those moments. And true freedom was coming. I could feel it.

Daily Journey Journal #2: how do you journal?

Daily Journal

It’s hard to remember a time when I wasn’t scribbling on paper. My affinity for office supplies has kept a steady stream of notebooks and writing utensils at my finger tips since long before I could even write a proper sentence or spell half the words I drew out in big letters. My true journey in journaling however, began on my twelfth birthday when my grandpa gave me my first diary. It was a Scooby-doo flower-power affair complete with a lock and heart shaped key, which I deemed positively necessary. With a little brother around it simply wouldn’t do if he could read all my important elementary school secrets!

The first year of journaling was spotty at best and filled with the drama of sixth grade- who liked who, crushes, best friends and the hot rumors flying through the classroom that week. Those short entries were short lived, though. The petty chronicles of elementary school turned to self talk shortly after beginning junior high. I had bloomed into a perfectly awkward wall flower and couldn’t quite figure out how to float through the social groups springing up. The journals from those years, simple spiral bound notebooks, contained notes to self (i.e. reminders of the way my English teacher preferred I write certain letters, particularly F) as well as thoughts on shifting friend loyalties,  understanding my parents’ impending divorce, letters to my grandpa following his death and attempts at understanding suicide and why it was a decision made sometimes. In these writings I discovered a sense of security, the extreme pleasure in connecting with myself and the cathartic nature of doing so. This vein of journaling has carried, supported and nurtured me up to this very day and it remains a steady practice in my life, particularly when the going gets tough. Since beginning university, these tough-times thoughts have been kept in beautiful, ornate journals which, once filled, are locked away in a trunk for safe keeping. My most vulnerable self is contained in the pages of my journals while my braver, stronger self is here on this blog, ready to examine tough times through the lens of retrospection.

This public journaling journey is my first of the kind. I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts and connecting with others on their own journeys. I would love to hear from you! What is your journaling or writing journey? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Until tomorrow,

KiwiBee

 

Day 16: Make a Prompt Personal

I’m slightly late, but here is my interpretation of the Daily Prompt Ring of Fire:

Do you love hot and spicy foods or do you avoid them for fear of what tomorrow might bring?

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“Try.”

Our new boss holds out his chopsticks across the narrow table. Clamped between them is a slim, shiny green pepper, broken in half and drizzled with red, chunky sauce all rolled in a brilliant green lettuce leaf. A and I look at one another. I can smell the giant clove of garlic he has just eaten, upon Boss’s request, wafting off his breath in waves.

“Garlic,” Boss said. “It is good for men.”

A picks up his chopsticks. His hands are slightly shaky. The last 24 hours of travel from the our hometowns to our new home on the southern coast of South Korea are definitely catching up. His hair is tousled from sleeping on the bus from Seoul to Yeosu. Our skin is sticky from the recycled air and sweat of travel. Around us the cafeteria room is blurred around the edges, the voices of neighboring dinners a hum that moves like ocean waves coming in and out.

A takes the lettuce roll. The flat metal chopsticks slip slightly and he adjusts his grip quickly.

“Is it spicy?”

“Not spicy.” Boss smiles. It is not particularly pleasant, though he intends it to be. The smirking grin of the Grinch comes to mind. Perhaps it is only my motion sickness medication wearing off?

Next to Boss, his daughter’s eyes are wide. She shakes her head slightly and looks between her father and A.

Despite her silent warning, A brings the chopsticks to his mouth and places the wrap inside. He sets down the chopsticks and begins to chew. Chew. Chew. His face shifts from pink to cherry to fire engine red in a matter of moments. Chew. Chew. Beads of sweat burst across his forehead.

Boss begins to laugh, that smile working the muscles in his face. His daughter and I can’t help it. Laughter tumbles from our lips as A opens his mouth and all but breathes fire.

“Not spicy?” Boss says.

“I wouldn’t say that.” A gulps down his little tin cup of water followed by mine. Boss’s daughter jumps up to refill the cups at the grey metal water dispenser along the wall.

“Do you like spicy?” Boss asks.

“We aren’t used to it yet,” A says. “But was are looking forward to eating Korean food.”

He knocks back the two refilled cups.

Boss watches A careful. “Spicy,” he says. “It is good for men.”

Sweat trickles down A’s cheeks.

“First test of manliness,” Boss says.

Well, I think as heat radiates off A’s body and dances across my arms, I won’t be proving my manliness anytime soon.

Day 9: Inspire Yourself (Snapthoughts of Home)

Today is a day of catch up. Over the last week I’ve been in the blurry mental fog of a sinus infection, but the meds have started working at last and now I can string more than two sentences together. Yipee! So, without further ado, Day 9: Inspire Yourself.

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The road before you seems endless, weaving through hills and past fields vacant except for the random cow here and there. It feels as if you are as far from civilization as you can possibly be and the end of the world must surely be near. Slowly, you begin to climb, approaching the summit. A reststop clings to a ledge overlooking the highway. You whiz by and start your descent into the canyon. As you round a corner you catch your first glimpse of The Gem City of the Plains and the mountains beyond. Not the end of the world, it seems. In the summer, the city is a green oasis in a sea of golden plains. In the winter, it is all but invisible, the lives of 30,000 people moving quietly through routine. Welcome to Laramie.

Sandwiched between two mountain ranges, Laramie is a mini mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking, biking, running, alpine skiing, nordic

Medicine Bow Peak, Snowy Range Mountains, 45 minutes from Laramie

Medicine Bow Peak, Snowy Range Mountains, 45 minutes from Laramie

skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing: Laramie has it all within reach.

You enter the city limits and pass by the typical outskirts: fast food restaurants, hotels, chain restaurants. In summer, wind rushes to greet you through your open window. In winter, wind batters the window, whistling through any cracks. Not far in the distance, two buildings catch your eye. They tower above the rest of the town. These are the tallest buildings in Wyoming at twelve stories. Nine months of the year, students inhabit these dorms and others as they attend the University of Wyoming. You continue down the street, which you’ve just noticed is named Grand Avenue. Groups of students cross, walking to campus. During summer, sunlight flits through the trees lining the streets, warming the bare legs and arms of pedestrians. In winter, ice covers the road and wind blows snow drifts into sculpted dunes. Everyone you see looks bundled from head to toe.

You continue on and realized that the road abruptly ends at railroad tracks. Old brick buildings sit in neat rows along the street. Some have seen better days, some have been remodeled. A freight train carrying coal roars past, honking at people paused on the pedestrian bridge. Despite knowing that Wyoming is the cowboy state, you notice a variety of restaurants as you meander past: vegetarian cafe, Mexican, bistro, Thai. A co-op sits on one corner, a chocolate store down the street. In between is a small shop that catches your eye. Upon further investigation you discover a perfect combination of loves: used books and coffee. This is Night Heron, a favorite hang-out for long-timers and the fluid student population alike. On weekends, the tables are full of students cramming away and plowing through homework. On weekdays, it’s quieter.

Another train screams by, rattling the glass in the windows. You sip your latte and breathe in the smell of coffee, ink, old paper and the steaming cup of homemade soup in front of you. Alone on the second floor, you take in your surroundings. The two floors of the shop are wide, open rooms with nooks created by bookshelves, but you know this wasn’t always the layout. According to the Old West Tour sign you read outside, this store, along with its neighbors, was previously a brothel, frequented by the railroad men who founded the town.

You can almost feel the history in the walls as you peruse the shelves then settle in for a good read. Despite the grueling, wind-blown drive with no cell reception and choppy radio playing country music, you can see why people stay, why so many people call Laramie home no matter where they are in the world. There is something about the wind, the clear blue skies and mountainous horizon that calls people back. You watch the sun begin to sink behind the Snowies and know that you will be one of them.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Fifty

What a fun challenge! This is the shortest story I have ever written at only  fifty words. Thanks for the great challenge!

Long Distance

Two pillows, two toothbrushes. Razor and shaving cream by the sink. Two towels. I burry my face in the smell of the soap we shared and his distinct scent. Tears soak into the fluffy blue. Each goodbye is harder than the last. I wonder, how many more until the end?