I went to California for the week. I bit my nails down to the quick. I started chewing Nicorette gum and I wore sunglasses to the point where my eyes couldn't adjust to being indoors. I was a different person then. I'm a weed that grew past its season. Overgrown, lush. The kind where you want to call it a forest, but it's too manic and frenzied in its excitement to bloom, it has no elegance to it. I'm a hybrid of eagerness and stagnation, I am preserved in the dust motes of lazy Sundays where I am allowed to be by myself. Alone. Blissful in that time apart, I took root and began to create. I bit my nails because I was nervous, nervous I would love it all.
I stopped by the convenience shop at gate G in the airport and got myself a pack of gum and some magazines. I tried to pretend I wasn't sweating, that my stomach didn't twist into braids of butterfly cocoons and that self-doubt of What if it's really over now?
It was my first time back in three months, to a town I never loved and in a house that never has enough light for me. An antique rug and an outdoor kitchen, I had a different life when I moved into that house last October. I even had a different life in December, when the wool was pulled from my eyes and I saw how crowded the shadows from the window blinds felt. It was 65 degrees that winter and I had to excuse myself from our Christmas dinner at a restaurant in the heart of Balboa; I was sweating so much and I felt like I couldn't breathe.
So I left. And I returned three months later, with a five o'clock shadow and more forgiveness than I thought possible.
And when I came back, it felt wholesome and kind. I cried until my nose bled when the dogs licked me until their tongues were dry. I sat over the sink and tried to stop the bleeding, refusing to tilt my head back and meet Nolan's eyes. To have him see me so weak. I wanted to come back strong and instead I was bleeding. We fell asleep at two that night, talking about where we went from there. I was sandwiched between a collie and a coyote. I fell asleep with the same howl of her forlorn call in my heart, hoping to be heard, saying, "I'm still here waiting."
For a week, I appreciated San Diego for the paradise it can be. Picnics. Whole foods deli section. The beach. Palm trees, windless nights, airplanes you mistook as shooting stars. A Subway you ate at after some surgery or another. Old friends, old coworkers. A smoky gay bar that serves $2 well drinks at noon. Curves, cracked sidewalks and a gym you used to have a membership at. We bought hand-braided bracelets and wore them on our ankles, promising to never take them off. "I like mine more than I thought I would." A pound of chicken that sat defrosting in the fridge for a week, useless because we ate out every day. $5 kombucha on tap. We went to the post office three times--once to mail my mom's birthday present, once to return an unwanted gift, and once to mail out postcards.
I wish you could be here! I'm always thinking of you.
Nolan has small birthmarks that tan a little bit darker than the rest of his skin. Small splotches that I could probably make a Rorschach analogy to and it wouldn't seem that contrived. The whites of the insides of his fingers fit, curved, linked into mine. And if there is a God, his design was so perfect, to craft our hands together in this way.
It was good to come back to a home that missed me, where I could tell life went on without me. It was comforting to know that the world didn't revolve around me. That I had grown up in the last three months and I wouldn't allow myself to be as capricious as I chose to be before. It was organic. It was natural. It was healthy for me to go back.
Organic. Healthy. Natural. Words that inspired me this week to make a lighter fare. My dad told me once he wants to see the sun set on every beach in the world. I thought about that as my groggy eyes adjusted to waking up in the small beach tent one afternoon. I saw red before I saw blue. I was thirsty and I thought how good the small bubbles of carbonation would feel on my dry throat in that hot, hot sun. I made some blood orange soda when I got home from my trip. I added some rosemary to stay healthy, steeping it, pulling the magic from its veins. I'll drink this batch the rest of the week and think of my time in California often. Back to the beaches, back to my dogs, and back to my relationship--however small a miracle to come back from the dead like it has.
Blood Orange-Rosemary Soda
- 1 1/2 cup fresh blood orange juice
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 24 oz club soda
- In a small saucepan, combine juice and sugar and heat on medium-high, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved.
- Allow to simmer until juice is reduced by half and is thick and syrupy
- Allow to cool, then funnel into at least a 30 oz container
- Fill remainder of container/bottle with club soda
- Add rosemary
- Refrigerate for at least half an hour
- Enjoy, garnish with additional rosemary or with blood orange