21 April 2018

mother nature

giant forest | sequoia nat park | march 29, 2018
badger, ca | march 29, 2018

grant grove | sequoia nat park | march 29, 2018

I owe much of who I am to my mother.

I could write about my need to organize things, my knack for financial control, my hard work ethic… but other than pushing me to be an accountant at the ripe age of 10 (spoiler: did not pursue this path) and my adoration of cooking, my mother embedded in me the love of travel. From the redwood forests to the waterfalls of Hawaii, the many roads of Spain and the edges of England, there’s one string that ties all of these trips together: it’s the vastness of my surroundings.  My memories of such escapades first glimmer at five years old. The mind hazily glimpses moments of tomato columbia jackets worn various ways while hiking through dense trees in Yosemite – petting moss on giant blankets of bark, learning about nurse trees which have fallen but give life to saplings. Redwoods as tall as buildings. I still feel life’s wonders when I stand under the umbrella of car-sized branches looking up at a multi-century old tree, in awe of its endurance. My mother is a giant sequoia –– strengthened by the fires that have burned her outer shell yet whose smoke opens opportunities and priorities otherwise unseen.

Mom and I have spent a lifetime on foot, in car, seeing olive trees growing in the countryside of Spain, drinking copious amounts of lattes together over a map, getting lost on foot and nearly peeing our pants in search of el baƱo. She’s there when I need a life-calming hug (only a mother’s hug can transfer waves of peace when anxiety runs high). She’s on the phone with me on drives back from the trees, when I have four more hours to go and need to stay awake. She puts up with me when I project to her my frustrations of circumstances which I can’t control, and accepts my apology hours later when the dust of uncertainty settles. I think of her when someone mentions The Sound of Music – how I hurt her when I said I didn’t like her rendition of “edelweiss” (I get my singing voice from her, too.)  I think of her when I order food at a restaurant and decide to alter a dish or two. I think of her when I take the day off to ski, wary of any sticks that should be present should I take a fall.

My mother is moving to Virginia in ten days, and I’ve been thinking a lot of what this means for our friendship. It scares me, not having the ability to go home for a hug at 11 pm. I know she’ll enjoy nature’s offerings at Sweet Briar, that she’ll read by the fire in the wooden walled library. But I want to be there next to her, digging my cold feet under her back for warmth. I’m homesick for my youth – early morning Starbucks runs on the way to volleyball tournaments; late night essays with bowls of popcorn; a mother-daughter trip across the globe. My mom and I once dreamed of renting a trailer to drive across some european country, and with each passing day I’m realizing that this is not really a possibility. Watching opportunities pass by like kodak moments in the passenger window terrifies me. I can be on the phone with her while doing so, but she can’t comment on my cartwheels or my balance on a painted curb from Virginia. Is this what growing up is supposed to feel like? A tad lonesome mixed with the rattling of a youth consumed by the fog of yesterday?

I should end on a hopeful note. My mother is going to love the work she does at Sweet Briar. She will be busy but surrounded by trees. She can sleep with the TV on or vacuum the house at 7AM without bugging anyone. She has a house I can road trip to, and while she will not be in the car with me getting there, she'll greet me with a glass of wine and a hug on Virginia's doorsteps.